Ronald Moore is looking to go deep into the NCAAs on his last run.
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