Outmanned in Memphis
No. 2 Tigers roll past Saints with relentless 3-point attack
By PETE IORIZZO, Staff writer, Albany Times Union
Friday, January 4, 2008
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Within minutes of the final buzzer, the Siena men's basketball team decided to look forward, to talk about lessons learned for future goals, to harp on ways to improve and small measures of success.
Looking back painted a far less pretty picture.
The preceding 40 minutes of game time offered a beautiful display of college basketball -- from near-flawless 3-point shooting and relentless rebounding to suffocating defense -- that led only to a hideous final score.
No. 2 Memphis, the highest-ranked opponent ever to face Siena in the regular season, pummeled the Saints in every measurable manner. The final result was a 102-58 rout Thursday at FedExForum.
The loss marked Siena's worst in 19 years, since Syracuse scored a 123-72 victory over Siena in the 1987-88 season. No wonder the Saints elected not to dwell on defeat, but rather to seek solace in where the experience of having played the ultra-talented Tigers might lead.
"That's the type of team we're going to need to play and compete against if we win this MAAC championship like we want to," senior captain Tay Fisher said. "I'm glad we had this opportunity. If we can win this MAAC championship, we're going to see this kind of team again."
Should that situation arise, Siena surely hopes for a more palatable outcome. In improving their record to 12-0 and winning their 39th consecutive home game, the Tigers led by as many as 46 points.
Memphis posted overwhelming statistics in almost every major category. The Tigers grabbed 60 rebounds, including 26 on offense, made 15 3-pointers and shot 52.8 percent from the field.
"If they're shooting like that, I don't know if there's any team in the country that can beat them," Siena center Cory Magee said.
The Tigers entered the game coming off tightly contested wins over nationally ranked foes Georgetown and Arizona. This was no contest. Memphis led 49-24 at halftime, a lead Siena never threatened.
Memphis was led by 20 points from reserve guard Jeff Robinson, but it was a superlative 19-point effort from starting guard Chris Douglas-Roberts that turned the game early. Douglas-Roberts made all five of his first-half 3-point tries and finished with 19 points.
He was a catalyst behind Memphis' 11 first-half 3-pointers. The Saints, playing a zone defense and guarding against the Tigers' relentless penetration, afforded clean looks from beyond the arc -- and Memphis made almost all of them.
Three-pointers on three consecutive possessions midway through the first half turned a 10-point Memphis lead into a 41-20 advantage, a defining swing that spelled the beginning of a rout.
"We needed a game like this," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "This thing has been a grind for us."
Siena instead turned to the grind ahead. The Saints sought positives in a team-high 18 points from Kenny Hasbrouck as well as 14 points from Edwin Ubiles and Tay Fisher. Also, Magee collected 10 rebounds and seldom-used forward Steven Priestly grabbed four boards in 18 minutes.
The Saints face Saint Peter's on Sunday in a return to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play -- or, more aptly, a welcome return to more suitable opponents.
Collectively, you just hope we can learn from this," Siena coach Fran McCaffery said. "You hope if we're in this situation again, against a team of this caliber, we play with a little more composure."
: Siena landed its second and final recruit of the season Thursday when 6-foot-10 center Wolfgang Gieler, a junior college player from Allan Hancock (Calif.) College, gave his oral commitment, Hancock coach Ralph Gorton said.
Gieler, who averages 19.5 points this year for Hancock, can play for Siena next season and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Iorizzo can be reached at 454-5425 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.