Moore's job: Trim Rose
Siena guard primary defender against Memphis' No. 2 scorer
By PETE IORIZZO, Staff writer
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Ronald Moore spent the summer playing basketball with his cousin John Salmons of the Sacramento Kings, and his brother Chuck, who played at Vanderbilt.
Their workouts also included players like Temple forward Mark Tyndale, a professional prospect, and Mardy Collins, a guard for the New York Knicks.
"That did a lot for my confidence," Moore said.
Moore finds out Thursday just how much it did for his game.
Siena's sophomore point guard faces his stiffest test of the season, perhaps even of his college career, when Siena plays at No. 2 Memphis.
The Tigers (11-0) boast one of the most talented freshmen in the country in point guard Derrick Rose, whom scouts project as a top-five pick in the NBA draft, should he elect to turn pro after this season.
Rose arrived at Memphis from Chicago as one of college basketball's most ballyhooed recruits, ranking among the top five players by almost every major scouting service. He has met every expectation, leading Memphis in assists and ranking second on the team in scoring with 15.5 points per game.
"He definitely has a future in the NBA," league director of scouting Marty Blake said.
Moore, who ranks fourth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with 4.91 assists per game, said he embraces the challenge.
"I'm definitely very excited," Moore said. "If I can do well against a guy like that, I can make a little name for myself."
Moore and Rose share one similarity -- both are billed as playmaking, pass-friendly point guards. But there are differences in size -- Rose is 6 feet, 3 inches and weighs 190 pounds, while Moore is 3 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter -- and strength.
Rose is a fearless penetrator, too, with a penchant for the acrobatic did-you-just-see-that sort of finish around the basket. Even his shooting, thought to be one of his few flaws, is coming around; he's made 7 of his past 14 3-pointers, raising that shooting percentage to .367.
"He forces a lot of stuff," said Siena assistant coach Adam Chaskin, who is compiling a scouting report on Memphis for the Saints. "He puts up some shots that make you say, 'You've got to be kidding me.' But it's part of what makes him great, because he hits a lot of them."
Moore continues to be a smooth operator of Siena's offense. His shot selection still needs improvement, evidenced by his .369 shooting percentage. But his low-turnover, high-assist production is a boon to the Saints' up-tempo style.
Moore won't be left alone to handle Rose. Teams have varied their defenses against the Tigers, with everything from a triangle-and-two approach by Southern California to a man-to-man look from Arizona. Siena figures to employ more of the latter, meaning Moore will get help.
But Moore still will be the player at the top of any defense, the one who decides if he should take a step back to guard against Rose's penetration or stay in his face, taking away his shot.
"If Rose starts making 3s, I don't know how you guard the kid," Chaskin said. "If you get too close, he goes right by you."
As a freshman at Wake Forest, Siena coach Fran McCaffery said he guarded former North Carolina point guard Phil Ford, who also won a gold medal with the United States 1976 Olympic Team.
"I played pretty well, stole the ball from him," said McCaffery, who faced Ford three times. "I still remember it, though I doubt he does."
Based on that experience, McCaffery said he'll offer Moore this advice: Enjoy the challenge, savor the memory, and, most important, play your game.
"Ronald Moore has the attitude you need," McCaffery said. "He's not afraid of anybody."
Iorizzo can be reached at 454-5425 or by e-mail at email@example.com.