The brief respite from the road is over. Mt. St. Mary's one-game home stand is complete. Now the Mounties are back on the road, still with that albatross of a losing streak around their neckes. A seven-game losing streak, the first six on the road and the final one in the most gut-wrenching of fashions on two foul shots with 2.5 seconds to Vermont on Wednesday night.
And now the Mount must face 9-4 Siena - a team that has been to the 2nd Round of the NCAA tournament each of the last two years. A team that is favored to win the MAAC again this year. (The Mount is 1-1 against the MAAC this season). The Saints have won their last three games and seem to be settling into a nice groove.
Siena won a pair of games earlier in the week - a 92-75 win over St. Joseph's and then an 11-point conference win over St. Peter's on New Year's Eve.
6-5 inch senior forward Alex Franklin leads four Saints in double figures averaging 15.5 per outing. He also does a nice job on the glass pulling down 8.2 rebounds per night and will be a chore for the Mount to handle. Clarence Jackson and Edwin Ubiles are the two best long-range shooters on the team and both average double figures despite averaging less than 30 minutes per outing.
The balance serves Siena well and the offense keeps them rolling in games. Ryan Rossiter is a force inside at 6-9, and leads the team with 9 and a half rebounds per game. His contribution is key and the Mount must try to limit his impact.
Jeremy Goode had 20 in the loss to Vermont on Wednesday. The Mount offense was much better in that contest, but must continue to get better. This is an extremely important week for the Mount. Games on Thursday and Saturday follow at Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart. Having dropped their first two conference games, the Mount needs to get going in the NEC. They'll need to gain some confidence in Albany and hope that carries over.
Siena has scheduled the past few seasons to have the opportunity to make the NCAA if they do not win the MAAC Tournament. With that in mind, they signed a home and home deal with the Mountaineers not expecting the Mount to be an RPI anchor. But they certainly didn't expect the Mount to be 3-9 at this point either with an RPI over 200. Siena's RPI sits in the low 100's.
Ultimately, this is probably a team that has a little bit too much talent for the Mount to deal with at this point in the season. I do expect that the Mount will continue to improve in this game. However, getting a win on the road seems highly unlikely. I'd say 76-67 in favor of Siena.