Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Siena's Rossiter Keeps Coming Up Big

The memory is one of meeting a tall, skinny high school player early in the 2006-07 season who was identified as a signed Siena recruit, and wondering how this bone-thin individual would ever withstand the physical pounding related to playing close to the basket at the college level.

The individual was Ryan Rossiter, who was about 6-9 and weighed all of about 180 pounds at that meeting when Siena played a non-conference game at NJIT and Rossiter made the short trip from his Staten Island home to watch his future team.

And the worries were verified during Rossiter's freshman season when, at a few pounds heavier than his high school weight, he would regularly set up on the low block and, then, be subsequently pushed several feet further from the basket when he did not have enough lower-body strength to hold position.

Fast forward ahead to this season. Rossiter now weighs close to 260 pounds, has alleviated any early concerns about his ability to operate around the block, where he does his best work, and is effective enough to be the nation's No. 2 rebounder.

He averages 13.1 rebounds per contest, after pulling down 20 missed shots in the Saints 76-69 loss to Loyola Monday night. The only player rebounding more than Rossiter is Morehead State's Kenneth Faried, who averages 14.2 per contest.

In between Rossiter became the blue-collar inside presence, over the previous two years, that served as the perfect complement to high fliers Edwin Ubiles and Alex Franklin.

It has all been testament to Rossiter's work ethic, not only on the court but in the school's weight room ... work that has enabled him to add more than 70 pounds to his once too-slender fame since that first viewing five years ago.

It has enabled him to advance from being a player limited, due to his physical limitations, to just 11 minutes of playing time per game as a freshman to arguably the best "big" to ever play at Siena.

And, certainly, one of the better inside players the MAAC has ever seen.

Rossiter's work on the boards Monday night pushed his career rebound total to 1,045, notable because it pushed him past Lee Matthews (Class of 1993) as Siena's all-time leading rebounder.

And, already, Rossiter is now the conference's fifth all-time leading career rebounder. He trails only Lionel Simmons (La Salle, Class of 1990), with 1429; Jason Thompson (Rider, 2008), 1,171; Drew Henderson (Fairfield, 1993), 1080; and Juan Mendez (Niagara, 2005), 1053.

Siena has six remaining regular season games and a minimum of one in the MAAC tournament. Figure Rossiter to continue to average 13 rebounds per game for seven more contests (91 more) and that lifts his career total to 1,136, which would be the MAAC's third-best career total in its 30-year history.

If Siena can make a run to the post-season tournament's championship game, playing an additional two games to get there, Rossiter could approach the No. 2 mark on the conference's rebounding list.

Not bad for a formerly too-skinny kid who only saw enough court time to get 97 total rebounds as a freshman.

"He was phenomenal tonight (against Loyola)," said Saints' coach Mitch Buonaguro, about Rossiter. "There's not much more you can say about him. He's getting double-teammed the whole night and to have 23 points and 20 rebounds ... that's a phenomenal game."

For sure, Rossiter's work is being recognized by Buonaguro's peers around the league who are all but certain to make the Siena center this season's Player of the Year in the MAAC.

"I'll be surprised if Ryan Rossiter is not in the NBA next season," said Maryland coach Jimmy Patsos. "He's (likely to be) a second-round draft pick. I've seen guys like Brian Scalabrini (a former Boston Celtic now with the Chicago Bulls) have a lengthy career, and so could Rossiter. I'm not saying he's going to be a star in the NBA, but that guy (Rossiter) is just a terminator close to the ball. There's always a place on an NBA team for a guy like that."

"I try to go into every game with the mentality of getting every rebound that comes off,” said Rossiter, who was given a standing ovation by the 6,549 in attendance when it was announced, during a stoppage in play, that he had become Siena's all-time leading rebounder.

Rossiter, though, has become more than just an overly proficient rebounder this season. He currently averages 18.9 points per contest, which is the second-best average (to the 19.1 of Iona's Mike Glover) in the MAAC, and 40th-highest scoring average nationally.

And, on Monday night, Patsos recognized that, too.

"When we were in a time out and down eight or nine (Loyola was behind, 58-50 at the media time out with 11:19 remaining), everyone was looking at me like I would have some magic play," said Patsos.

"I just told them on't let Ryan Rossiter score. You don't let Kobe Bryant score. Don't let Dwight Howard score. Don't let Kyle Singler score. Don't let Jimmer Fredette score. That's my play."

Rossiter got five more points after Patsos delivered that message, but the rest of the Saints didn't help out enough on this night as Siena let its late-game lead slip away.

But what didn't slip away was the final statistical evidence that the once too-skinny Rossiter had become Siena's all-time best big man and one of the best ever to patrol the paint in MAAC history.

1 comment:

http://www.ehow.com/members/stevemar2-articles.html said...

I'm a Rider Broncs fan, but I must admit I am impressed with Ryan Rossitter. I've seen him play twice. He's a great player and it would be neat to see him play in the NBA.