Throughout the last four months at Siena with new head coach Jimmy Patsos have been an adventure, but Patsos and his staff have been up to the task of rebuilding a roster which went 8-24 last season.
Despite losing a commitment and a few upperclassmen, the new Siena staff has built a roster filled with young players ready to play Patsos’ up tempo style. Patsos changed Siena’s scheduled foreign trip, originally scheduled for Italy, to a trip to Montreal so he can feel out his new team.
“We’re happy, the trip to Canada was excellent,” Patsos said. “Thank God John D’Argenio our athletic director let us go on this foreign trip because we learned a lot.”
Freshman Marquis Wright, Patsos’ first commit as Saints head coach, led the way in most statistical categories and will be the starting point guard Patsos said. In their first two games, Siena played with a 24 second shot clock which put the ball in Wright’s hands with a winding clock. Patsos also said he was pleased with the play of junior Rob Poole and sophomores Ryan Oliver and Rich Audu playing in their fast, pressing style. The Saints lost Evan Hymes in their second of five games with a broken hand, Hymes is expected to be ready by the start of practice.
Patsos said that winning was not the most important part of the trip and that the experience in evaluating his group in game situations was invaluable.
“You’re just trying to play. We do a lot of different stuff, we press, we run, we run different sets,” Patsos said. “The trip was invaluable for us. It probably turned us from a rebuilding program, believe me our schedule is going to be really tough early, but I thought that the trip showed us that we’re not rebuilding that we can contend in the MAAC. Look I know Iona, Manhattan, Canisius and all that, but I think after the trip we can contend this year in the MAAC and that’s important for confidence.”
The Saints schedule, after opening up with the Albany Cup rivalry game against America East tournament champion Albany, is a gauntlet of tough games that include visits to Purdue and LaSalle as well as an opening game of the Old Spice Classic against Memphis.
The new coach at Siena is in familiar ground in the MAAC and his style of using an eight to nine man rotation will stay the same. Patsos has been looking for his group in Siena colors this year and believes the Canada trip helped shape the type of depth his team will have this season. Lavon Long will play “a ton” at the small forward and power forward spots while he is happy with the inside depth of Brett Bisping, Imoh Silas and freshman Javion Ogunyemi. Despite the injury, Patsos’ expectations for Hymes remain the same to be a fast player in his quick offense.
“I want to see when Evan comes back from his broken hand,” Patsos said. “I think he can do a lot of different things, play the one and two for us.”
“We got eight or nine guys they’re really a good group. I’ve always felt successful teams got along off the court, because they’re not afraid to talk and talk on D, have each others back, but the first month of the schedule is going to be brutal so we’re going to have to survive that and from there we’ll move on, but it’s all about the MAAC. I’m excited about the MAAC.”
Ryan Restivo covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.