Tonight's MAAC tournament men's championship game will either be a continuation of a stretch of the best four-year run in conference history, or the beginning of, maybe, a new era of extended success.
Siena is the team trying to continue its domination of league play in tonight's 7 p.m. championship game against Fairfield, and a victory by the Saints tonight would confirm that program's position among the MAAC's all-time elite.
Here's what Siena has accomplished since the current senior class of forwards Alex Franklin, Edwin Ubiles and point guard Ronald Moore joined the program:
- Its overall record of 96-37 accounts for the second-highest victory total by a conference team over a four-year stretch. Only former conference member La Salle, which won 100 games (100-31) from 1986-87 through 1989-90, has won more games over a four-year stretch.
- Siena is one of three MAAC teams to reach the league's post-season tournament's championship game in four straight seasons. Manhattan (1991-92 through 1994-95) and Iona (1981-82 through 1984-85) are the only other teams to do that.
- If Siena wins tonight, it becomes only the second MAAC men's team to win the post-season tournament title (and an NCAA berth) in three consecutive seasons. Only former league member La Salle (1987-88, 1988-89 and 1989-90) has done that so far.
On the other hand, Fairfield's future looks bright no matter the outcome of tonight's game.
- The Stags have one of the all-time best freshmen on their roster, 5-foot-11 point guard Derek Needham whose 16.3 points-per-game average is fourth best among MAAC players this year. Needham is one of four players in conference history to average at least 15 ppg. as a freshman. The only others are Saint Peter's Keydren Clark, La Salle's Lionel Simmons and Rider's Jerry Johnson.
- Although Fairfield loses standout senior big man Anthony Johnson after this season, it has three expected starters recovering from injuries. Forwards Greg Nero and Warren Edney have missed all of the current season and swingman Yorel Hawkins has missed the last 13 games. All could play next season and if all three return the Stags will likely be the preseason pick to win the 2010-11 regular-season title.
It certainly makes for an interesting championship game tonight, and will answer this question:
Does the present prevail, or does the future begin a little early?