Why all the venom?
I can’t help but be amused – and mostly impressed – with the dialogue that’s taking place in the comments section between Rider and Siena fans.
For the most part, there’s been a healthy back and forth with valid viewpoints on both sides.
Here’s my basic evaluation of where Rider stands as a program in relation to Siena: As I wrote in my last post, Rider is a legitimate threat that should be taken seriously. If nothing more, there’s a realistic chance if the teams met in the MAAC title game, Rider could win.
The Broncs have also won 38 games over the past two seasons and will reach at least 40 barring a complete meltdown. I understand they’ve done so against an embarrassingly weak non-conference schedule, but there are dozens upon dozens of teams that play weak schedules and don’t win close to that many games.
What I don’t quite get is the venom coming from a small group of Siena fans (which I’m guessing doesn’t represent the fan base as a whole) toward Rider.
Earlier this year, during one of my Q & A exchanges with Pete Iorizzo of the Albany Times Union, I pointed out that it was clear to me some Siena fans aren’t too fond of Rider.
I got a comment from a Siena fan who said Saints fans don’t view Rider any differently than they do Saint Peter’s: as just another low-tier MAAC program unworthy of Siena’s respect.
I understand the lack of respect, and in a way, it’s justified. It’s true that Siena has been the most successful MAAC program since it joined the league and that Rider has accomplished relatively little over the past decade.
But it’s simply not true that these Siena fans – who, again, as far as I can tell aren’t representative of the fan base as a whole – care as little about Rider as they do about Saint Peter’s and Loyola.
If that was the case, they’d be writing venomous messages about John Dunne, obsessing over Saint Peters’ attendance figures, and foaming at the mouth over Dunne’s post-game comments.
(A quick note on the attendance figures and Tommy Dempsey’s record, since I know that’s a gripe some folks have: Regarding the attendance figures, I am certain Rider isn’t the only MAAC team that inflates attendance numbers for some games. If you’re going to fault them for what they’ve done, fault them for making it so obvious that they’re doing it. Also, know that the coaching staff has virtually nothing to do with that practice. … The record distortion is stupid, and Dempsey’s record as an interim coach should count. There’s absolutely no question about it. … To me, though, that doesn’t warrant that kind of venom. It’s simply not close to being on the same level as abusing players or committing NCAA violations. If you have that attitude toward Dempsey, what do you have to say about someone like Kelvin Sampson?)
So I need help from some Saints fans.
To those who appear hung up on Rider’s shortcomings, why do you care? If Rider is such a low-grade program unworthy of your respect, why let Dempsey’s comments bother you? UConn and Pitt fans don’t think Rutgers has a legitimate men’s basketball program, so there’s no way any of them are going to be bothered by anything that Fred Hill says.
To other Siena fans out there, what does the rest of the fan base think?
My impression from talking to Siena fans and members of the Albany media is that most of the fans are too focused on their team becoming one of the best mid-major programs in the country – for which they should be extremely proud – to care much what Dempsey says or does.