This is the first time I’ve seen the Siena Saints live and in person under head coach Jimmy Patsos. While getting a look at the Saints, I also got another look at the Fairfield Stags during Siena’s 64-56 victory at Webster Bank Arena on Sunday. Instead of John’s five thoughts, I’m going with three lasting thoughts from Sunday’s game.
1) Teams are closing in on Marcus Gilbert – Fairfield sophomore Marcus Gilbert has established himself as a potential all-MAAC player, but the trade off that goes with that is team’s will start to close in on shutting him down. Head coach Sydney Johnson said that he struggled to get going, especially in the second half when he only got one shot up. “I thought he was a little bit off in terms of his focus,” Johnson said. “We faced some other teams that had a specific game plan to take him out of it, I didn’t feel like that was the case, I felt he was just a little bit off.” Sunday was just the sixth game when Gilbert scored less than 10 points in a game, all of those have been Stags losses. In order for Fairfield to make the next step, they will need Gilbert to become a consistent second option. Senior Mo Barrow, despite coming off the bench, appears to be the most consistent scoring option, but those third and fourth options need to emerge to give Gilbert a break from being the focal point.
2) Patsos wants more from Evan Hymes – It’s clear that the one player Jimmy Patsos wants to get the most out of is Evan Hymes. During the first half, Patsos in the coaches box he could be heard across the way yelling at Hymes: “Evan, you’re not playing hard, Evan, walking around” after a play where Brett Bisping couldn’t handle an interior post up pass and a scramble for the ball resulted in an alternating possession arrow. Later in the first half, after losing the handle on a pull up jumper with under three minutes left, Patsos could be heard saying “Evan, I’m not taking you out, I’m not taking you out.” However, after playing for a majority of the first half the junior saw just two minutes of playing time in the second half in favor of Oliver.
Hymes tied a season-low 13 minutes on the day, his previous low set at Manhattan when Patsos publicly called out his team’s effort in the 90-68 loss to the Jaspers. In order for the Saints to make a push further into MAAC play they will have to get more out of the junior on the road. Hymes, whose already scored 956 career points in two-plus seasons, can become a scoring two guard and has to if Siena wants to make a run in March.
3) Marquis Wright is not Ronald Moore and that’s a good thing – Freshman point guard Marquis Wright might get the comparisons to Ronald Moore because he starts as a freshman, but they are different. Wright may be undersized but he can make plenty of plays. Siena plays a different zone defenses than last year, even though they do have some 2-3 zone in the mix, but Wright’s active hands make a huge difference. Wright drove for two layups, one to cut the lead to 35-33 and another after grabbing a Justin Jenkins missed three-pointer near the top of the key and driving coast to coast to put Siena up 37-35 and complete a 12-2 run.
The freshman is quick and athletic, hunting for steals on defense. He picked the pocket of Stags senior Mo Barrow as he drove left down the right baseline in the final three minutes of the game. “I feel like he brings a sense of calmness to the court,” Brett Bisping said of Wright. “He’s not exactly an emotional player, but he’s someone you can trust with the ball to make plays.” There’s only been three games this season where the freshman has not had a steal in a game.
“Marquis, that’s my Isiah Thomas and I want him to score it,” Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos said of Wright. “He’s crafty, he’s quick, he’s not as quick as you think, he’s got to work on his pull up jumper like Isiah.” The best stat for Wright today was his two fouls and he hasn’t fouled out since Siena’s home game against Iona, which they lost a lead on the Gaels once the freshman fouled out.
Ryan Restivo covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.