Fran McCaffery's five years at Siena have been the best in its 70-year storied history. He led the Saints on an incredible run that ended with three straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances. In so doing, Siena became the only program in the country to win its regular season and postseason title the last three years.
McCaffery's Saints owned a 112-51 record in his five years with the program. After orchestrating the fifth greatest turnaround in all of Division I in his first year, McCaffery led Siena to a 20-win season and a MAAC Championship game appearance in his second. In 2007-08, Siena took the biggest step forward under his direction, earning the MAAC Regular-Season and Tournament Championship as well as an NCAA Tournament First Round win over Vanderbilt. In 2008-09, Siena repeated the feat, winning the regular-season title outright before capturing the Tournament crown at Times Union Center. The Saints went on to defeat Ohio State 74-72 in double overtime in one of the Tournament's most exciting games.
This past season, McCaffery led Siena to its fourth straight 20-win season, something never before done in program history. Siena ran away with the league title, clinching the No. 1 seed in the Tournament on February 8 with four conference games remaining. The Saints came from behind in each of their three MAAC Tournament games, culminating with a 72-65 overtime win against Fairfield in the MAAC Championship. Siena's bid for a third consecutive NCAA Tournament First Round victory was ended by No. 4 seed Purdue in Spokane, Wash. Down 15 points with five minutes left, the Saints rallied to within three points with one minute remaining, but eventually fell 72-64. For his efforts, he was named the NABC District I Coach of the Year.
The 2009 MAAC Coach of the Year is the third winningest coach by percentage in league history (68-22, .756). He is the only coach to guide a MAAC program to two NCAA Tournament wins.
In 2008, McCaffery became just the 31st coach (15th active) to take three different programs to the "Big Dance", and he is the first to do so with three programs from one-bid leagues (conference's that sent just one team the year his program advanced). He also boasts a 100% graduation rate among student-athletes he has recruited who have exhausted their eligibility during his tenure.
In 2008-09, the program enjoyed unprecedented success. McCaffery challenged the Saints with the most difficult schedule in program history and Siena responded by equaling a program-record with 27 wins. For the second straight year, the Saints captured the hearts of college basketball fans across the country by advancing to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament with a breathtaking 74-72 double-overtime win over Ohio State in Dayton, Ohio. In the Second Round, Siena nearly missed an upset of epic proportions, leading top overall seed Louisville late in the second half. Siena became a household name as the team performed against the country's elite under the spotlight of 10 nationally televised games. Siena claimed its second straight MAAC Tournament title and finished the season ranked 28th in the USA Today ESPN Coaches Poll and 19th in the final RPI. The Saints received votes in the Associated Press top-25 poll eight times and in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll six times during the season.
The 2007-08 season will also go down as one of the most memorable in Siena basketball history. The regular-season featured a home win over No. 20 Stanford, a third straight victory over cross-town rival UAlbany before over 13,000 fans in the annual Albany Cup and a BracketBusters Saturday win at WAC Champion Boise State. The Saints also rallied to earn a share of the MAAC regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the MAAC Tournament with late season wins at contenders Rider and Marist as well as a Senior Day home victory over Niagara. But it was Siena's postseason run that would turn the season into a breakthrough year.
After rallying from 17 points down in a semifinal win over Loyola, Siena pounded Rider in the MAAC title game on its home floor to earn the MAAC's automatic bid. Less than two weeks later, McCaffery put together the perfect game plan and Siena led from start to finish in an 83-62 rout of SEC power Vanderbilt at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla. Many considered the victory the greatest in school history, challenged at the time only by the program's 1989 upset of Stanford in the NCAA First Round. Despite a Second Round loss to Villanova, McCaffery and the Saints had made a statement the college basketball world could not ignore: Siena Basketball has arrived.
McCaffery inherited a depleted Siena team that was picked last in the 10-team MAAC in 2005-2006. Instead, the Saints finished conference play in fourth place, earning a bye to the quarterfinals of the MAAC Tournament.
Siena showed steady improvement under McCaffery's tutelage in 2006-2007, posting a 20-12 overall record and tying for third place in the MAAC with a 12-6 finish.
McCaffery's Saints were the highest scoring team in the league, and they peaked at the right time, winning seven of their last eight regular-season games and advancing to play for the league Championship with a semifinal upset of top-seed Marist.
McCaffery has orchestrated the turnaround with stellar recruiting and bold vision. His first recruit - senior Kenny Hasbrouck - graduated as the most important player in program history. He was named MAAC Rookie of the Year as a freshman, MAAC Second Team and All-Tournament team as a sophomore, CollegeInsider.com Mid Major Player of the Year, MAAC First Team and MAAC Tournament MVP as a junior and MAAC Player of the Year, MAAC Tournament MVP, NABC All-District and MAAC First Team as a senior. He recently signed with the Miami Heat after a successful stint with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League.
His second class (first full class) is widely regarded as the best in program history. Edwin Ubiles, Alex Franklin and Ronald Moore finished their four-year careers with a 97-38 (.719) overall record, three MAAC Championships in four title game appearances, three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and two NCAA Tournament First Round victories. Ubiles is a two-time MAAC First Team, NABC All District First Team and MAAC Tournament Team selection and the 2007 MAAC co-Rookie of the Year. Alex Franklin, a two-time NABC All District selection, earned 2008 and 2009 MAAC Second Team and MAAC Tournament Team honors. He won the 2010 MAAC Player of the Year award (Siena's second straight) and the 2010 MAAC Tournament MVP. Ronald Moore, the pulse of the team, earned 2009 MAAC Second Team and 2010 MAAC First Team honors as well as a spot on the 2010 MAAC Tournament Team. This past season he was named a Bob Cousy Award finalist for the nation's top point guard. He became the MAAC's all-time assists leader in the 2010 MAAC Championship game, surpassing Marist's Jared Jordan (813).
In total four Saints were named to either the First or Second All-MAAC team in 2009, newcomer Kyle Downey was an All-Rookie selection and Clarence Jackson was named MAAC Sixth Man of the Year.
McCaffery was introduced as Siena 14th head men's basketball coach on April 1, 2005. For over 20 years, he has enjoyed great success coaching Division I basketball and developing student-athletes on and off the court. McCaffery has recruited and coached several players who have gone on to play basketball professionally, some at the highest level.
McCaffery came to Siena from UNC-Greensboro, where he posted a 90-87 record in six seasons. In his first year at the helm, Greensboro compiled a 15-13 record overall and a 9-7 Southern Conference mark, good for third place in the North Division. It was the 18th-most improved record nationally among NCAA Division I teams.
In McCaffery's second season, he guided the Spartans to unprecedented heights with a 19-12 record and the 2001 SoCon Tournament Championship. The Spartans defeated Chattanooga, 67-66, in the finals and received the SoCon's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The following year (2001-2002) McCaffery led the Spartans to their first 20-win season since joining the conference. It marked the first time the program claimed a share of the SoCon North Division title as well. After falling to eventual tournament champion Davidson in the conference tournament semifinals, the Spartans were awarded a berth into the 2002 NIT, where they lost to eventual champion Memphis.
In his final year in Greensboro, McCaffery brought the Spartans to the brink of the NCAA Tournament before a SoCon Championship game loss to Chattanooga. He led UNCG to a victory over Davidson in the semifinals, defeating a team that had been 16-0 in conference play. A big part of that success was SoCon Freshman of the Year Kyle Hines. Hines set UNCG and SoCon records for blocked shots, and also broke several other UNCG single-game and freshman single-season marks.
McCaffery spent the 11 years prior to his arrival at Greensboro at the University of Notre Dame as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, working on the staffs of Richard "Digger" Phelps and John MacLeod.
Among the players he recruited to play for Notre Dame were Pat Garrity, CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year in 1998, and Troy Murphy, the Big East Player of the Year in 2000 and an eventual first-round NBA draft pick. Garrity was also a first-round NBA draft pick and the Big East Player of the Year in 1997. In addition to Murphy and Garrity, McCaffery was involved in recruiting NBA First Round picks LaPhonso Ellis (1992 Draft, #5 Denver), Monty Williams (1994 Draft, #24 New York) and Ryan Humphrey (2002 draft, #19-Utah Jazz).
He helped the Irish to NCAA Tournament appearances in 1989 and 1990. Notre Dame reached the NIT finals in 1992, losing to Virginia in overtime, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the event in 1997. At 26, McCaffery was the nation's youngest Division I head coach when he was hired Sept. 11, 1985, at Lehigh. McCaffery capped his three-year tenure with the Engineers with a 21-win season and an NCAA berth in 1988.
In three seasons as head coach at Lehigh, he compiled a 49-39 overall record and guided the team to the NCAA Tournament in 1988. At the time he was the youngest head coach to reach the NCAA Tournament. His Lehigh teams had two winning seasons in three years and the 1987-88 squads' 21-10 record remains the best in program history. Lehigh had just four winning seasons in the 55 years prior to his arrival.
McCaffery was assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Lehigh from 1983-85 and helped the team to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1985. As recruiting coordinator, he helped sign Darren Queenan '88, who remains Lehigh's all-time leading scorer. Queenan was second in the nation in scoring in 1988, and went on to play in the USBL.
McCaffery was assistant varsity coach and head sub-varsity coach at his alma mater Pennsylvania during the 1982-83 season. At Penn, he worked for Craig Littlepage who is now the director of athletics at the University of Virginia.
McCaffery lettered three years as point guard on the men's basketball team at Pennsylvania as one of the first transfers to play for the Quakers. He earned a bachelor of science degree from The Wharton School of Finance and Commerce in 1982. In 1985 he received his master's degree in education from Lehigh.
In three seasons as a player he helped lead Penn to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances and Ivy League titles and one berth in the NIT. As a senior in 1981-82 he led the Ivy League in steals and assists and was voted the team's most inspirational player.
Recruited as the successor at point guard to Skip Brown at Wake Forest, McCaffery played one season at Wake Forest, 1977-78, helping the Demon Deacons to a 19-10 record. Nicknamed "White Magic," he started 11 of 28 games as coach Carl Tacy's team finished runner-up in the ACC Tournament to eventual NCAA runner-up Duke. Wake defeated UNC Chapel Hill twice in three meetings and won five of the eight games it played at the Greensboro Coliseum.
McCaffery, a Philadelphia native who attended LaSalle High School, and his wife Margaret have four children: sons, Connor, Patrick and Jonathan and a daughter, Marit. The McCaffery's have been actively involved in Coaches vs. Cancer in the Capital Region and beyond.