Siena <a href=Saints" title="Siena Saints"/>
Ronald Moore is looking to go deep into the NCAAs on his last run.
Ronald Moore is looking to go deep into the NCAAs on his last run.
Key Game
The knock on Siena is that the MAAC isn't exactly a gantlet: The Saints' tried-and-true plan has been to roll through conference play and bank on a postseason splash. Siena can quiet its critics, however, by taking care of Georgia Tech -- and dangerous freshman Derrick Favors -- in Atlanta.
Fast Facts
COACH: Fran McCaffery (5th season)
2008-09 RECORD: 27-8
MAAC RECORD: 16-2 (1st)
Starting Lineup
PGRonald Moore*6' 0"Sr.8.7 ppg6.4 apg
SGClarence Jackson6' 3"Jr.8.3 ppg1.6 rpg
SFEdwin Ubiles*6' 6"Sr.15.0 ppg4.9 rpg
PFAlex Franklin*6' 5"Sr.13.6 ppg7.5 rpg
CRyan Rossiter*6' 9"Jr.10.0 ppg7.9 rpg
Key Reserve
GKyle Downey6' 2"Soph.3.5 ppg0.4 apg
*Returning starter

This article appears in the November 23, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated

Siena's recipe for mid-major success begins in an actual kitchen in Loudonville, N.Y. There Margaret McCaffery cooks her famous desserts -- most notably French apple cobbler with caramel sauce -- while fostering the warmth that has enticed recruits since her husband, Fran, became coach of the Saints in 2005. The team regularly stops by the McCaffrery's to eat, watch sports and receive impromptu mothering in a pinch. "We promise our players' parents that we'll watch out for them," says Margaret. Adds senior point guard Ronald Moore of the family atmosphere, "It's a reason a lot of guys choose to come here."

Thanks to Moore and the current batch of Saints, however, there's another reason to go to Siena: NCAA tournament success. The Saints' All-MAAC trio of seniors -- Moore, swingman Edwin Ubiles and forward Alex Franklin -- comprises the best recruiting class in school history and certainly the most battle-tested. Together they've won 70 games, two conference titles and two NCAA tournament games, including an epic, double-overtime defeat of Ohio State in the first round last March.

So this year, despite the loss of MAAC player of the year Kenny Hasbrouck, expectations are even higher. "The seniors elevated the program from the moment they arrived," says assistant Mitch Buonaguro. They all arrived without fanfare. Although Moore was lightly recruited out of Plymouth Whitemarsh (Pa.) High, he "has an incredible basketball intellect," says McCaffery, "and that rare ability to make three plays in the last minute and a half that'll win the game."

Moore, who drilled clutch three-pointers at the end of both OTs against Ohio State, is no longer a secret. In fact, opponents have been studying up on the Saints. Last year Buckeyes star Evan Turner walked by McCaffery and said, "Hey, White Magic." As McCaffery recounts, "I told my guys, 'Now they even know my college nickname.' "

At this rate his wife's recipes could be next.
-- Pablo S. Torre

Issue date: November 23, 2009

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.