What’s the most underrated local rivalry? Without a doubt, Niagara/Siena takes the cake.
The teams are always good, the games are generally well-played and close, and going into today’s game, the teams were ranked 1-2 in the MAAC (Siena entered 8-0 in conference play; Niagara was 5-2.) So naturally, when five dollar tickets fell into my lap to watch the matchup at Albany’s Times Union Center, I jumped at the opportunity.
Worth it? It would have been, had Niagara decided to show up.
First thing is first– Siena is good. How good? They’ve now won 10 of their last 11 and 12 of their last 14. They returned four starters from a team that beat a good Vandy team in the tournament last year.
It was clear right from the start that the Saints were the better team on Saturday. They shot 60 percent from the field and they dominated down low, scoring 56 points in the paint– most of which came on Benson Egemonye, who had a good day offensively (8-13 from the field; 18 points) but an atrocious day defensively.
So what did we learn? Niagara’s still a pretty good team, but there’s no chance they get past Siena in the MAAC Tourney, on the Saints home floor no less. Maybe next year, Purple Eagles fans.
Siena plays in the ~15,000 seat Times Union Center in downtown Albany, which is waaaayyy too big for any MAAC team, so last year Siena brass decided to put tarps over all end zone seats, electing to sell only the 8,000 or so seats along the sidelines to make for a smaller atmosphere. A good idea for most games, but what’s the logic in turning away people at the door when there are plenty more seats to sell. According to Albany Times Union beat reporter Pete Iorizzo, Siena actually turned people away when they “sold out” of the 7,980 tickets originally made available. Am I missing something? Why in the world would you turn someone away at the door when you can pack another 7,000 in? Sounds pretty foolish to me…