Siena Re-Signs Fran McCaffery: Are The Saints the Next Gonzaga?

Ari Kramer@Ari_KramerSenior Analyst IIApril 8, 2009

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 20:  Ronald Moore #25 of the Siena Saints is hugged by head coach Fran McCaffery after beating the Ohio State Buckeyes 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)

With the plethora of vacant coaching jobs this offseason, Siena fans nervously searched every possible news source to find out where their beloved coach would end up for the 2009-2010 season.

Capital 9 News relieved Saints Nation of its anxious anticipation, announcing Fran McCaffery and Siena had agreed on a contract extension as of Tuesday evening. The specifics of the deal have not been released, but Siena will host a press conference on Wednesday to officially welcome McCaffery back to the small college in Loudonville, NY.

Having McCaffery walk the sidelines in front of the Siena bench is vital to the future success of the Saints' basketball program.

Ordinarily, a mid-major that wins tournament games in two consecutive seasons will suffer when its coach bolts for a lucrative deal from a big-time program. As the coach leaves, so, too, leave the players and recruits. More often than not, a mid-major that loses its coach needs to endure a stretch of rebuilding years.

With McCaffery as its coach, Siena will not need to rebuild like it did in the early years of McCaffery's reign. McCaffery has built a reputable program in upstate New York.

Inheriting a team that went 6-24 in 2004-2005, McCaffery knew hours of recruiting and a lot of hard work laid ahead of him.

Jack McClinton, the three-time All-ACC guard for Miami, was a freshman on the 6-24 team, and McCaffery was unable to persuade the talented guard to stay with the rebuilding program. With McClinton out of the picture and a few decent returning players, McCaffery more or less needed to start from scratch.

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The new head coach hit the recruiting trail, signing Kenny Hasbrouck, who became a four-year letter-winner and was named the MAAC Player of the Year in 2008-09.

After one season, the Saints were once again a winning team, with a 15-13 overall record.

By 2006-2007, McCaffery coached Siena to 20 wins and earned the Saints a spot in the MAAC Championship.

The year after that, they upset fourth-seeded Vanderbilt in the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State was their tournament victim in 2008-2009.

McCaffery brought in talented recruits every season, building his team to be strong for many years. Edwin Ubiles, Alex Franklin, and the clutch Ronald Moore will all be back in Loudonville for their senior year.

Ryan Rossiter is the most fundamentally sound player in the MAAC, and Bill Raftery loves him for that. The Staten Island native will be a junior next season. Also in Rossiter's class is the sharp-shooting Clarence Jackson, who will assume the void left by Hasbrouck at shooting guard.

This year's freshmen didn't receive too much playing time, but Kyle Downey and Owen Wignot stepped up when they were needed.

Three good recruits are already committed to play for McCaffery next season.

It's not just McCaffery's knack for signing talented basketball players that makes him a valuable coach. He also knows how to win—he nearly out-coached Rick Pitino in the second round of this year's tournament.

Obtaining all this information really makes you think the coach, who also took Lehigh and UNC-Greensboro to the NCAA Tournament, is building a mid-major powerhouse at Siena.

This team went 13-5 in MAAC play in 2007-2008 before trampling over the bulk of their competition this season en route to a 16-2 league record.

Hasbrouck and the injury-plagued Josh Duell are the only notable graduates, so it is easy to conceive that the Saints will once again be the juggernaut of the MAAC.

As long as McCaffery stays in Loudonville, talented recruits will sign on to the program and the Saints will win lots and lots of games. It's looking like Siena will be a threat for years to come.