ALBANY — The Siena Saints have been showing up late for games the last three times they’ve played.
They’re in uniform for the opening tap, but it seems like they don’t start playing well until the second half.
With their remaining Metro
Atlantic Athletic Conference schedule studded with teams in the top half of the standings, the Saints can’t afford to keep getting off to slow starts.
They play host to Marist at
7 tonight at the Times Union Center, and they’ll have a tough time winning if they don’t get into a groove much sooner than they have been.
Siena got away with it in a 64-51 win at Iona on Jan. 27, but it took the Saints almost 12 minutes to score five points in a blowout loss at Loyola on Jan. 24, and although they came back to within eight against Rider on Saturday, they gave up 59 points and fell behind by 25 at halftime. The game was pretty much over at that point, an embarrassing performance on a
nationally televised game on ESPN2 that left a bitter taste in the Saints’ mouths.
It was the kind of loss that the Saints said they need to learn from, and in a hurry, since they face Marist again on Friday and Rider two days later.
“You don’t want to forget about a game like this,” forward Josh Duell said after the 89-75 loss to Rider. “You kind of have to, but you’ve got to learn from it, and come out against Marist and play 40 minutes hard. We’ve been putting together a good 20 minutes, but now, we’ve got to put back-to-back 20 minutes together.”
“If we came out in the first half with the focus we had in the second half, it’s a totally different game,” forward Alex Franklin said.
Without using words like “cocky” or “complacent,” junior guard Kenny Hasbrouck suggested after the Rider loss that the Saints had started to believe that they were good enough to show up for games and win without full intensity.
When they flip the switch, the Saints have played great, like when they ran Iona off the floor in the second half, and even in the second half against Rider before the comeback fizzled out in the last four minutes.
Against these good teams, though, that won’t be nearly enough.
“We played hard in the second half because we were down by 25 points already,” Hasbrouck said. “We need to play our hardest throughout the game, instead of waiting until we’re down and turn it on, because you won’t win like that. There’s too many good teams in the league.”
That includes Marist, which, at 8-3, is tied with Siena for second in the MAAC behind 10-2 Rider.
Loyola and Niagara are each another game back.
RED FOXES ON A ROLL
The Red Foxes are 14-8 after losing to the Broncs at home on Wednesday, only Marist’s second loss in its last 10 games.
If there’s any consolation for the Saints, it’s that they won’t have to wait long for a chance to wash the Rider loss off of them.
“We’ve got to remember this game, because we have to know we can’t do this, there’s no way we’re going to win like this,” Hasbrouck said. “We have to try to put it behind us. I’m not going to put it behind me, I’m going to use it for motivation. Any way you look at it, we’ve got to come out and play our hardest against Marist.”
“Every game’s important in this league,” Franklin said. “It’s good that we don’t have to hold this loss with us for a week, we’re going to go out there and try to take it out on Marist.”
“I can only assume that we’re not doing a good enough job getting them ready, whether it’s preparation, or if it’s a situation where you struggle like that at the start of games like we have, you’ve got to then go back and break down
everything you do,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “Whether it’s game prep or conditioning or shooting — that’s what we’ll do.”
Siena and UAlbany will find out today who their opponents will be for the ESPNU BracketBusters game to be played on the road on Feb. 22 or 23.
The BracketBusters pits potential NCAA tournament hopefuls against each other.
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