Sports Illustrated hit my mailbox today, and there it is: Siena rated the No. 20 team nationally by the magazine in its College Basketball Preview issue.
It is believed to be the highest preseason rating ever accorded a MAAC team by SI. I'm not sure how long the publication has been picking a preseason Top 20, but it was not doing so back in the late 1980s, when La Salle surely would have cracked that group.
But, clearly, this year's Siena team has become the most-hyped since those days when the Exlorers reigned in the conference.
So, what does it mean? A few posts back this blogger had some unkind words for another publication that picked Siena as No. 15 nationally.
The thoughts for SI are similar. Sports Illustrated is considered to be one of the finest publications, if not the best, of its kind. But rating Siena No. 20 nationally ... its credibility takes a hit here.
(Side note ... the SI writer who produced the page-long Siena preview, Pablo S. Torre, did also make a positive reference to Margaret McCaffery's famous deserts, most notably French apple cobbler with caramel sauce. By all accounts, that particular dish served by head coach Fran McCaffery's wife, is second to none).
Here's one telling point about Siena. It has just one starter taller than 6-foot-7. Of the 19 teams rated higher, all but one have at least two starters taller than 6-7. The only other program that doesn't is Michigan, which has two likely future NBA players on its roster as well as one of the top freshmen nationally.
Among teams rated behind Siena is Georgia Tech, at No. 21. We'll see about how those two teams stack up when Siena plays at Georgia Tech on Dec. 2. If the Saints pull off the upset that night, then we'll revisit the debate about how how Siena should be ranked.
But, consider this: SI rates Georgia Tech the third-best Atlantic Coast Conference schoo, behind only North Carolina (No. 7) and Duke (No. 12).
Does anyone believe that Siena is better than all but two ACC programs?
Of course, it is all great publicity for the small Loudonville, N.Y.-based school as well as for the conference. Included in the preview is a nice picture of the Saints' senior point guard Ronald Moore.
How many MAAC players ever appear in pictures featured in a national magazine?
And, this might well be the best MAAC team since those La Salle glory days.
Best MAAC team ever? Definitely not. The 1989-90 La Salle team had one future NBA all-star (Lionel Simmons), another NBA first-round draft choice (Randy Woods) and a second-rounder (Doug Overton).
All the preseason hype and, now, great visibility in Sports Illustrated is the stuff that should be treasured by the Siena program and its players for a lifetime.
But your humble blogger just wonders is the Saints are being ranked about 10-to-15 places too high.