Chambersburg graduate earns NCAA tourney berth

March 12, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

Michael Buhrman can confirm the old adage that the most unexpected surprises are usually the best ones.

Buhrman, a junior center for the Siena College men's basketball team, endured a rough season. He played for his third coach in three seasons, Rob Lanier. His playing time was cut. The Saints, normally a top-tier team in their league, finished the regular season six games below .500.

Then, last weekend happened. Siena caught lightning in a bottle and won four straight games on its home floor to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Tonight, at 7, Siena and Alcorn State will meet in the NCAA Tournament play-in game at Dayton Arena. The winner will play East Region top seed, Maryland, on Friday.


"After the season we had ... we had some high expectations and didn't play up to our potential," said Buhrman, a 1999 Chambersburg High graduate and former first-team All-Area selection. "Finally, the last four days it all worked out."

After a first-round win over St. Peter's on March 1, the seventh-seeded Saints made their statement in the quarterfinals against No. 2 seed Marist. Trailing 18-4, Siena slowly chipped away at its deficit the rest of the way for an 82-76 victory.

"It was a little strange," said Buhrman, who averages 11 minutes a game in the Saints' up-tempo system. "We had lost our last three in the regular season, two of them at home. But we knew we could fix everything that was going on.

"We just said, don't let this be our last game."

It wasn't. Upsets dominated the conference's tournament, and Siena got past sixth-seeded Manhattan in the semifinals before pulling away late from fourth-seeded Niagara March 4 on ESPN to advance to the "Big Dance" this week.

"We are happy to be in it, yeah," Buhrman said. "But we'd rather not play in (the play-in), it kinda ruins it. Growing up as a kid, my dad went to Richmond, and it's something you always dream about, getting to play one of the top teams in the country."

So if and when you see Siena in this week's opening round playing Maryland or whoever, take a peek for No. 15 in green.

Yeah, the guy living a dream.

"I've talked with Adam Underkoffler (a former Chambersburg teammate), but not much of anyone else," Buhrman said. "And a couple of people over the computer, but I just haven't had the chance with everything."

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