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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Pete Iorizzo, Albany Times Union - Siena hopes to be The King in Memphis

Siena hopes to be The King in Memphis
January 2, 2008 at 7:05 pm

by Pete Iorizzo, Staff writer
Albany Times Union

Greetings from Memphis, where Elvis and endless barbecue live. To borrow a line from Marc Cohn, I’m walking with my feet 10 feet of Beale.

Well, not really.

I’m tired, actually. Our flight left Albany at 6 this morning and arrived about 10:30 a.m. Central Time, with a stopover in Detroit along the way.

So I can only imagine how the Saints feel. Siena, which took the same flights, went through a spirited two-plus hour workout at FedExForum, the 17,000-seat arena in downtown Memphis, late in the afternoon.

The team got a chance to enjoy some of the city, too. They planned a dinner at a local BBQ join after practice. Their dinner choices were ribs or steak.

I know I’m planning on the ribs later.

And on that note, here’s your blog advance, Southern style:

The Game: Siena at Memphis, 9 p.m. EST, FedExForum

Radio/TV: WROW 590 AM / Time Warner 3

Probable starters:

Siena (7-4): So. G Ronald Moore, 6-0 (11.2 ppg, 5.0 apg); Jr. G Kenny Hasbrouck, 6-3 (16.6 ppg, 2.7 apg); Sr. G Tay Fisher, 5-9 (8.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg); So. F Edwin Ubiles, 6-7 (17.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg); Fr. F Ryan Rossiter, 6-9 (2.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg).

Memphis (11-0): Fr. G Derrick Rose, 6-3 (15.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg); Jr. G Antonio Anderson, 6-6 (7.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg); Jr. G Chris Douglas-Roberts (17.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg); Sr. F Joey Dorsey, 6-9 (7.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg); Jr. F Robert Dozier, 6-9 (10.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg).

Matchup to watch: Joey Dorsey vs. Siena’s post players

Make no mistake – every matchup in this game is key. Siena can’t afford to be dominated at any one position. If Chris Douglas-Roberts pops off for 25, Siena will be in trouble. If Derrick Rose scores 20 and dishes 10 assists, the Saints have big problems.

So you could argue every matchup bears watching.

But let’s zero in on Dorsey.

One coach who’s seen Dorsey play quipped, “He looks like he should be playing defensive end for the Giants.”

He’s 6 feet, 9 inches and almost 300 pounds.

Dorsey isn’t a dominant scorer – he averages only 7.9 points – but his shooting percentage is an unfathomable 73.8 percent.

Dorsey doesn’t force anything, which makes him a terrific fit for Memphis’s offense. He passes very well out of the post and averages 9.4 rebounds, which keeps alive a lot of possessions.

He’s blocked 24 shots, too.

Rebounding-wise, this is the biggest test yet for Ryan Rossiter, to say the least. If nothing else, he shouldn’t be intimidated by anyone he sees the rest of the season after battling Dorsey.

Siena will win if … pigs fly, hell freezes … pick your cliché.

But that’s not really what this game is about.

This is about Siena’s players getting a chance to face the No. 2 team in the country, to guard and score against some of the best at their positions in college basketball.

The Saints might as well relish the chance to play in front of 17,000-plus fans and handful of NBA scouts against a team many think can win a national championship.

Sure, Siena should be play to win.

But they also should remember to enjoy this, the final score be damned.

Memphis will win if … well … Memphis will win the game.

Siena had better make some 3s to stay in this game.

Memphis coach John Calipari said he was worried about Siena’s ability to break its press, because it puts so many ball-handlers on the floor. I suspect the Saints will go right at the press, looking to use their quickness to get behind it.

Some 3-pointers, some easy buckets in transition, Siena can be in this thing. I don’t necessarily foresee a big-time blowout.

Did you know: Memphis has won 38 consecutive home games. Its last home loss came Dec. 20, 2006, against Arizona.

Prediction: Well, you know where this is going.

I’ll give Siena the benefit of the doubt. Siena hasn’t been blown out many times in the Fran McCaffery Era, although you can argue they haven’t played a team of this caliber, either.

Still, I think the Saints can have enough success against Memphis’ press and make enough shots to keep the score within reason.

I think this will be very high-scoring, maybe reminiscent of last year’s loss to Maryland. In fact, it’s sort of ironic – 80 percent of the teams Siena faces try to slow down the Saints; this time, Siena will be the team wanting to limit the number of possessions.

Saints lose by 15, which I bet covers the spread in Vegas.

Memphis 91, Siena 76

(My record: 7-4)

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