When the buzzer sounded Manhattan coach Barry Rhorrsen and his Jaspers stood ready, only problem was Fran McCaffery’s Saints weren’t coming to shake their hands.
The Siena coach ordered his players back into the locker room after Siena’s 78-61 win over the Jaspers Saturday night. McCaffery was so insistent that when he found Kyle Downey still sitting at the end of the bench he told him leave the sideline immediately.
In the post game press conference Coach McCaffery claimed it was to protect against any form of altercation between the two team’s players, but refused to go into greater detail.
“The reason why i sent my starters to the locker room was to avoid any possible incident that would affect their safety,” McCaffery said. “That’s my number one concern, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.”
The potential incident McCaffery was hoping to avoid stemmed from a growing tension amongst the players. Throughout the game Manhattan’s Rico Pickett was making gestures toward the Siena bench and was jabbing with the starters during breaks in the action. Ryan Rossiter was clearly frustrated by constantly getting tangled up with the Jaspers’ big men.
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.
When asked if the physical play and trash talk had an effect on the team, Owen Wignot said that the best response is success on the court.
“When you really start rolling you can kind of just put it to the side,” Wignot said.
Alex Franklin said that he wasn’t surprised at his coach’s decision.
“Coach is just looking out for our safety,” Franklin said.
Dirty play has been a concern for McCaffery all season and it is an issue he has addressed on more than one occasion this year. Meanwhile, this isn’t the first time McCaffery has sent his players into the locker room early. McCaffery did the same thing last year during Siena’s 83-71 win over non-conference team Holy Cross when the game grew chippy.