Marchello Vealy appeared Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse in the body of Siena’s Clarence Jackson, and suddenly the game that was in the bag became the game that threatened the long homecourt winning streak.
You remember Marchello Vealy. He was the Oral Roberts player who stepped out of oblivion for one game, buried seven of eight three-point shots to spark an upset of Kansas University, and then returned to oblivion forevermore.
Jackson entered the game with a .228 long-range accuracy percentage, averaging less than one made three per game. In this one, Jackson fired in four three-pointers in seven attempts. Overall, Siena hit 10 of 21.
But Siena did not match the upset feat of Oral Roberts because Cole Aldrich didn’t let it happen.
On paper, this was a game Aldrich should dominate. Siena had a lot going for it, namely winning experience, with all five starters back from a team that upset Vanderbilt in a first-round game last March in the NCAA Tournament. What Siena didn’t have was an answer for Aldrich, the 6-foot-11, 245-pound, sure-handed sophomore from Bloomington, Minn.
Aldrich answered the call, producing 24 points with 13 rebounds (four offensive boards) and four blocked shots in the 91-84 victory. In the process, Aldrich left his hard-to-please coach marveling at one particular knack of his.
“The thing that Cole does as well as anybody that I’ve coached, maybe ever, is reading offensive rebounds,” Bill Self said. “He will not let his man block him off. His effort on the offensive glass is phenomenal. It is far better than anyone else on our team and is the best in the league. He is leading the league in offensive rebounds per game, with a guy named (Oklahoma’s) Blake Griffin in our league.”
Aldrich is an easy guy to wish well. He’s friendly, funny, smart and has a way of keeping his head from swelling, even in an atmosphere in which he constantly hears and reads people talking and writing about what a terrific basketball player he is. As a basketball fan, Aldrich isn’t a whole lot different from the rest of us. Ask him what player comes to mind when he thinks about a great offensive rebounder, and he answers with a predictable name.
“Dennis Rodman,” Aldrich said. “He was a little different, but when he stepped on the court, he gave it his all. That’s what I try to do all the time.”
Any plans to copy Rodman fashion-wise?
“I don’t think I’m going with the green or red or black hair or anything like that,” Aldrich said.
What about wearing a dress to a game? Rodman did that once while playing for the Bulls.
“That’s not quite my style,” Aldrich said.
Tattoos, mohawks and earrings, aren’t his style, either.
Relentlessly pursuing offensive rebounds, as did Rodman, now that’s more like it.
The key to it, Aldrich said, is, “trying to figure out where the ball is coming off. Once you think it’s coming off a certain way, it’s all effort, going after it and trying to rip it away.”
Great hitters have the ability to see what pitch is coming right out of the pitcher’s hand. It’s no different for great offensive rebounders.
“Right after it leaves the shooter’s hand,” Aldrich said. “Just by playing basketball so much you can kind of tell where it’s coming off.”