The Pinkie Previews NCAA Second Round: (9) Siena Vs. (1) Louisville

straitpinkieCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2009

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 20: The mascot of the Louisville Cardinals performs on the court during a game against the Morehead State Eagles during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the University of Dayton Arena on March 20, 2009 in Dayton, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Date: Sunday, Mar. 22
Site: University of Dayton Arena (13,266) in Dayton, OH
Series History: UofL trails 0-1 all-time (0-1 in Loudonville)
Last Meeting: UofL 71, Siena 78 (Dec. 10, 1953 in Loudonville, NY)
National Rankings: UL No. 1 AP, ESPN/USA Today, (Mar. 16)

Louisville and Morehead State played each other for the second time this season on Friday, and pretty much played the exact same game. Morehead hung with the Cards for the entire first half, trailing by just two at the break, 35-33.

The second half was all Louisville, and number one seeds moved to 100-0 all-time against 16-seeds, as the Cardinals dominated the Eagles 39-21 in the half for the final 74-54 margin.

Samardo Samuels led Louisville (29-5) with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go with his seven boards. Samuels benefited from getting up the court quickly and into position before the Eagles were even set on defense.

Earl Clark also reached double digits, contributing 12 points to go with five boards and five assists.

Terrence Williams scored 13 points in tonight’s game to reach 1,521 for his career. The senior forward moved past former Cardinal, Nate Johnson (1996-2000), for 18th place on the all-time U of L scoring list.

Williams is one assist short (527) of second place on the all-time Louisville list. He also led the Cardinals with nine rebounds in the win, which gives him 938 for his career and places him seventh in school history.

Kenneth Faried, the OVC Defensive Player of the Year, had 14 points and 11 boards. Morehead’s lone senior Leon Buchanan led the Eagles with 17 points, while Maze Stallworth chipped in 14 points.

In the other Midwest First Round game in Dayton, the Siena Saints went toe-to-toe with the Buckeyes of Ohio State for 50 minutes before Ronald Moore hit his second three of the overtime periods (and second of the game) with 3.9 seconds to play.

Evan Turner then rushed the ball up the court following a timeout, but his attempt to tie it was off to the right and Siena held on for the 74-72 double overtime victory.

The Siena Saints pulled the first-round upset for the second consecutive year, taking out Vanderbilt last year and now the Buckeyes in 2009.

Siena (27-7) went 16-2 in MAAC play and played an out of conference schedule that included six NCAA tournament teams. The Saints defeated Cornell and Northern Iowa, and fell to Tennessee, Oklahoma State, at Pittsburgh and at Kansas.

Although the Saints lost those matchups, they grew from the experience of playing bigger, stronger players from bigger, stronger conferences.

“We didn’t have one game this year that we could sort of mail it in,” said coach Fran McCaffery. “I think that helped our focus and it made us a tough road team.

"This year, with the so-called target on our backs every night, they were able to focus and do the things necessary to win, especially at the end of the game. Obviously that’s what you need in this environment.”

Siena is one of the most balanced teams in the field. Four players average double figures with senior guard Kenny Hasbrouck, the MAAC player of the year, leading the way at 14.8 points.

6'6″Junior Edwin Ubiles is right behind Kenny putting in 14.6 points per contest. Junior forward Alex Franklin adds 13.6 points and 7.3 rebounds, while sophomore Ryan Rossiter (the tallest Saint at 6'9") averages 10.0 points a game and leads Siena with 7.8 boards.

Ronald Moore, the First Round hero, is the shortest player on the squad by three inches. Listed at a generous 5'11", Moore leads the Saints in assists—dishing out 6.3 per game.

And apparently he has ice water for blood, as he nailed a three with time expiring in the first overtime to send the game into the second OT, and then calmly drained the aforementioned three to give Siena the win.

McCaffery’s bench isn’t terribly deep and against Louisville he’ll need some of his reserves to come up big.


Bobby E’s Gamebreaker: FATIGUE!!!

Coming off a double overtime thriller that ended early Saturday morning, Siena is going to need to dig deep to find the stamina that will enable them to keep up with the Cardinals.

Louisville’s relentess defensive pressure wears teams down as evidenced by their last three games in which they either trailed at the half (final two BIG EAST tournament games) or led by just two (Morehead State), but went on to win big as their opponents succumbed to the pressure and folded in the second half.

If Siena comes out weak in the knees, and Louisville jumps on them from the start, the start will be the finish for the Saints and this one will be over quickly.