A very interested observer at Tuesday's contest between Siena and Marist at Albany's Times Union Center was Tom Brennan, a college basketball analyst for ESPN.
Brennan was in town to get a look at the Saints, whose next game is at Pittsburgh and will be nationally televised by ESPN 2. Brennan will be working the game as an analyst, so his visit was mostly about doing his homework.
But there was a pleasurable secondary benefit for Brennan to be at the game.
The personable television personality previously coached for 19 seasons at Vermont, the first 16 of those resulting in a sub-.500 overall record.
But, the last three all resulted in league titles in the America East Conference, and trips to the NCAA tournament. In his last season there (2004-05), Brennan's top player was Taylor Coppenrath, a 6-9 mid-major level version of Larry Bird, and the Catamounts' storybook 2004-05 season included a first-round NCAA tournament upset of Syracuse.
Two freshmen on that Vermont team are now college seniors, and both were on the court Tuesday night in Albany.
Josh Duell, a 6-7 forward who averaged 5.5 points and 3.1 rebounds as a Catamount freshman under Brennan, is now a Siena co-captain. Bothered by a variety of early season injuries, Duell had his best game to date playing 17 minutes, contributing strong interior defense and scoring six points on a pair of 3-pointers.
Ryan Schneider, also a 6-7 senior forward, is Marist's leading scorer and rebounder this season. He averaged 4.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game as a freshman on Brennan's last Vermont team. Including Tuesday's game, he is now averaging 12.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per contest.
Brennan was able to spend some time with his two former players both before and after the game.