Siena To Play At MSG

Siena has officially announced that the January 3 matchup between the Saints and Iona Gaels will be played as part of a double header with the Big East at Madison Square Garden. Following is the official release:

Iona College, Siena College and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Madison Square Garden announced that the Gaels and Saints will play their MAAC contest at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” on Jan. 3 at 9:00 pm. The game will be a part of a doubleheader with the Big East’s St. John’s and Louisville.

“This game will serve as a great opportunity for our seniors to play at such a historic venue as Madison Square Garden in their last season of college play,” said Cluess. “We’re delighted that Siena and the MAAC have agreed to participate and we’re excited to get on the floor and play at the Garden to start the 2012 MAAC portion of our schedule.”

“I was elated,” Buonaguro said of his reaction when the deal was struck. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for our program to play in the world’s most famous arena, not only for our team, but our alumni and tremendous fan base. We will certainly relish the fact that (these opportunities) do not come along very often.”

“Playing conference games in Madison Square Garden is a priority in the MAAC scheduling goals and the efforts of Iona College to move forward with showcasing league basketball in the venue is much appreciated within the conference,” added Rich Ensor, Commissioner of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

The matchup will be the third all-time between Iona and Siena at Madison Square Garden. The Gaels defeated the Saints 68-58 on Dec. 6, 1952 in the first contest, and Siena won the following year 56-54. In the more recent game, Siena Hall of Famer Bill Kirsch (who coached at the school from 1972-1982 overseeing its transition to Division I in 1976-77) sunk an historic buzzer-beater to win the game. At the time, sportswriter David Eisenberg described the shot as “the most sensational basketball shot in Madison Square Garden history, a three-quarter courter from 60-feet out.”

Iona has won five of its last seven games at MSG including back-to-back conference wins over Manhattan on Jan. 30, 2008 and Jan. 24, 2009. During the stretch, the Gaels took down then No. 23 North Carolina 65-67 in the opening round of the ECAC Holiday Festival on Dec. 27, 2002. One of the Maroon & Gold’s most memorable wins in program history came at the Garden, a 77-60 win over No. 2 Louisville in on Feb. 21, 1980. The Cardinals would not lose another game that season en route to an NCAA Championship.

Siena has not played at the Garden since dropping a 56-51 decision to MAAC member Manhattan on February 4, 2001. The Saints made a memorable run to the NIT semifinals at MSG in 1994 behind Tournament MVP Doremus Bennerman who set a NIT record with 174 points in Siena’s five games, including 51 in the third place game victory over Kansas State. Siena played in the 1999 ECAC Holiday Festival at MSG, losing to Fordham and Rutgers after entering the Tournament on the cusp of the Associated Press Top-25.

It will serve as the 97th meeting between both squads with Iona holding a 50-46 advantage after its MAAC Championship quarterfinal round win over Siena last March. The Gaels snapped a 10-game slide to the Saints with wins in each of the last two meetings.

The Gaels open up their 2011-12 campaign at the Puerto Rico Tipoff on Nov. 17 against the Big 10’s Purdue. With Iona appearing at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 3, the squad’s stretch of games away from home extends to nine games beginning with the MAAC December weekend to open the month and six non-conference games in its opponent’s building. Siena’s season opens November 16 at home against Navy.

The matchup will feature the MAAC’s two most accomplished programs. Iona has won more MAAC Championships than any other school (7), while Siena boasts more conference championships (5) and postseason appearances (9) than any other league member since joining the conference in 1989.


One Comment

  1. Anonymous

    September 13, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    In 1952, when Bill Kirsch threw in the 60 footer, Iona was led by Richie Guerin. Guerin went on to have an All-Star career with both the Knicks and the Hawks. After his playing days were over, I believe he was the head coach for the St. Louis Hawks.

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