Niagara Gazette

Sports

March 19, 2008

MEN'S BASKETBALL: Siena's Fisher rewarded for staying put

Siena College is back in the NCAA tournament for the first time in six years in large measure because Tay Fisher believes a man should live up to his word.

Fisher matched his career best by hitting six 3-point shots en route to 21 points in a 74-53 win over Rider in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament final that earned the Saints an automatic berth.

It was a familiar sight for Niagara fans, who watched Fisher make every shot he took — four 3s and six free throws — in the Gallagher Center in January as the Saints wrestled control of the MAAC from the defending-champion Purple Eagles.

As the 13th seed in the Midwest region, Siena will face No. 4 seed Vanderbilt in Friday’s opening round. The Saints have been a popular upset pick this week, predicted to win by multiple analysts from ESPN and Sports Illustrated, among others.

Fisher is the lone senior on coach Fran McCaffery’s squad and the only player to have endured Siena’s 6-24 season four years ago. McCaffery replaced Rob Lanier after that 2004-05 campaign and was faced by a mass exodus of the freshmen that came in with Fisher.

Jack McClinton transferred to Miami (Fla.). Albert Fisher (no relation) wound up at Kent State and Kojo Mensah went to Duquesne. Tay Fisher was the only one to stay.

“I understood the other guys leaving and I thought about it,” Fisher said. “But I came to Siena to stay for four years, not one. I wanted to make an impact here for myself and for the program. Once I make a commitment I stick with it.”

To McCaffery, Fisher became an essential building block.

“Tay was the one guy in the whole group who was rock solid from the beginning,” McCaffery said. “He came to me and said, ‘Coach, I believe in you, I’m going to help you. I’ll do everything I can to help this team win.’ ”

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