Posted on Nov 29, 2004

SCHENECTADY – A new era in Union College men's basketball began Monday night at the new Viniar Athletic Center. Manhattanville proved to be a rude guest, spoiling the Dutchmen's debut with a 72-69 victory before a crowd of 250.
Still, despite the loss, the night belonged to the state-of-the-art building that seats more than 1,000.
Boasting a bright wooden court with plenty of lighting, comfortable seating and all of the usual amenities, the Viniar Athletic Center drew raves from spectators, coaches and players alike who were used to the often cold, dark and spacious dimensions of Memorial Field House.

Brian Sardato of Union College goes up a shot


“This is beautiful. It's a terrific gift,” said Union head coach Bob Montana, who guided the Dutchmen to a 20-8 record and a second-place finish in the Upstate ECAC New York tournament a year ago.

 “It's kind of neat that it came from a former basketball player. To me, that makes it even more special.” Located southeast of Memorial Field House with connections to the field house's locker rooms and equipment facilities, the new facility will be used for practices, games and intramurals.

David Viniar, a 1976 summa cum laude graduate of Union, was a member of the 1974-75 basketball team that captured the ECAC Upstate New Yorkchampionship. A member of the Union Board of Trustees, Viniar received his Master's in Business Administration from Harvard and eventually joined the banking firm of Goldman Sachs & Co., where he becamea partner in 1992 and chief financial officer in 1999.

 Viniar's personal gift of $1.2 million was followed up last July by a grant of $2 million from the Viniar Family Foundation.
 “David understands the importance of athletics in a young person's education,” said Montana. “He is one of the finest examples of a student-athlete.”
Although he wasn't happy with the final result of the first game there, Union junior point g u a r d C h r i s M u r p h y w a s thrilled with the Dutchmen's new facility.
“That fact that Mr. Viniar donated $3 million to build this facility is great,” he said. “We wanted to show him how much this court meant to us. We're sorry we didn't win this game for him.”

Union opened up with an 8-0 spurt, and it looked like the Dutchmen were ready to run the Valiants out of the building. Union increased its lead to 22-10 on a three-pointer by Brian Scordato with 10:18 left in the first half, but Manhattanville stormed back behind the threepoint marksmanship of Rich Riss, who nailed four straight treys from well beyond the arc.

“I played against him in high school. It's no surprise he shot that way,” said Murphy.
Although the Dutchmen did a good job of doubling up defensively on 6-foot-11, 270-pound center Jerry Fiefie, the big man eventually got untracked and scored eight points in the final 5:34 of the half to help the Valiants take a 37-31 lead.
With Devon Bruce leading the way, Union took a 60-55 lead with 8:07 remaining, but the Valiants weren't done. Manhattanville scored eight consecutive points to take a 63-60 lead, and Riss canned another threepointer with 3:35 to go for a 65-61 cushion.
   Union countered with a driving slam-dunk by Bruce and a fast-break layup by John Cagianello after a steal to knot the score at 67-67.
   Fiefie's three-point play with 1:24 left gave Manhattanville a 70-67 lead. After Murphy made a pair of foul shots to cut the lead to one point with 43.3 seconds left, Donte Chisolm hit a runner in the lane. The Dutchmen called a timeout with 20.2 seconds left, but they had trouble finding an open shot. Murphy missed a three-point shot with 2.6 seconds left.
   Fiefie scored 16 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and blocked four shots for 3-1 Manhattanville. Riss finished with 21 points.
   Bruce and Scordato led Union with 19 and 13 points, respectively.
Chisolm 4-1-10, DiBetta 5-0-10, Benziger 4-0-11, Fiefie 7-2-16, Riss 7-1-21, O'Rourke 1-0-2, Fink 1-0-2. Totals: 29-65 4-9 72.
Scordato 4-3-13, Cagianello 2-6-10, Murphy 2-3-8, Bonner 5-0-10, Bruce 9-0-19, Ramey 0-1-1, Rahill 1-1-3, Mackey 1-2-5. Totals: 24-54 16-22 69.
Halftime: Manhattanville 37-31. Threepoint goals: Chisolm, Benziger 3, Riss 6, Scordato 2, Murphy, Bruce, Mackey.


ANA ZANGRONIZ Gazette Photographer Brian Scordato of Union goes up for a shot against Manhattanville during Monday night's game in the new multi-purpose Viniar Center.