The drama that unfolded in and after the Siena-Manhattan game
But Fran McCaffery did that last night. It’s the second time he’s done it, in fact.
Siena defeated Manhattan 78-61 in the quarterfinals of the MAAC tournament yesterday, and the Saints head coach wanted to avoid any incidents in the post-game handshake line (perhaps the Steve Alford-Jonathan Tavernari incident was in the back of his mind?).
The reason for this was, during the game, it was clear Manhattan’s players were just begging for Siena — conference powerhouse for the better half of the past decade — to be baited into a scuffle or two. Jaspers players could be seen finishing off shots (even while trailing) and cupping their hands to their ears in an act of braggadocio.
The on-the-ball guys at Siena Saints Blog depicted the following:
However, what drew the most attention was a hard foul against O.D. Anosike in the second half where after he fell to the ground, guard Darryl Crawford stepped back on his knee. The starters had to be escorted to their benches and Anosike didn’t return to action. While McCaffery said later he didn’t think the injury was too severe, it did not stop the 8,914 fans at the Siena-heavy Times Union Center from booing Crawford every time he touched the ball.
Below, the SSB’s video of McCaffery chastising reporter Mark McGuire for asking about why McCaffery did what he did after the head coach said this: “The reason I sent my starters to the locker room was to avoid any possible incident that would affect their safety. That’s my No. 1 concern. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”
McGuire responded with a column that went after Manhattan much more than McCaffery, though he did write that McCaffery overreacted by sending his starters to the bowels of the arena before the final buzzer.
Manhattan’s Brandon Adams had one more shot for the Saints afterward.
“I think he tried to show us in a certain light, as if we weren’t good sportsmen,” the Jasper senior Brandon Adams said. He added that Siena took part in the game’s physical nature.
“I think it’s on both sides,” Adams said. “You know when you’re at the top of the MAAC you have the ability to complain a little more and sway refs and officials and media in your favor.”
McCaffery, who I interviewed for a podcast earlier this season, seems like a nice enough guy. In fact, other writers I’ve talked to have spoken highly of him. His frustration over the Manhattan-Siena dynamic bubbled all game. He said what he wanted to say on the matter, asked for no questions about it, then the first question he gets is about his decision to yank the players. I don’t blame him for lashing out at the reporter. It’s Manhattan. Did he really want to deal with such drama so early in his conference tournament?
Blame falls on the Jaspers’ players and coaches. They were the No. 9 seed with nothing to lose. They acted like it.
Siena plays Rider today in the semifinals.