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Siena rises from cellar to penthouse in four years

When Fran McCaffery and Kenny Hasbrouck arrived at Siena College four years ago, the men's basketball program was coming off a 6-24 season.

How quickly fortunes can change in college basketball.

McCaffery, Hasbrouck and the rest of the Saints were at Colonie Town Hall Monday to receive the key to the town after a second consecutive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title and opening round win in the NCAA Tournament.

It was the least that the town could do after the Saints raised the national profile of the 3,000-student private college tucked off Route 9 between Fiddler's Lane and Spring Street.

It was a phenomenal opportunity for our players to experience a number of different things, said McCaffery. "Obviously, getting to play in the NCAA Tournament is something most players don't get to experience in their careers, and many of these guys got to experience it twice. And then, to beat Ohio State in the first round and take Louisville to the wire proved that we can compete with any team in the country."

The Saints accomplished several firsts this year:

First back-to-back league championships

First consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament

First single-digit seed (No. 9 in the Midwest Region)

First double overtime victory in an NCAA Tournament game

Tied school record for wins in a season (27).

All of this took place during a season in which great expectations were placed upon Siena from Saints fans to national magazines that predicted a second consecutive MAAC title.

"Everyone was after us," said Hasbrouck. "On the team, we didn't see (the predictions) as pressure. We put pressure on ourselves to get back to the NCAA Tournament."

"I told the guys, 'Understand, it's great to pick up these preseason magazines and see all the nice things written about us, but let's not forget all the hard work that it took to get us to this point,'" said McCaffery.

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