Siena lands Gieler, adds power inside

It’s official, the Siena men’s basketball team has some rebounding help.

It’s official, the Siena men’s basketball team has some rebounding help.

Wolfgang Gieler, a junior college player from Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, Calif., submitted his national letter of intent, giving the Saints — in particular, power forward Alex Franklin — some badly needed support on the boards.

Gieler, a 6-foot-10, 255-pound center from Bonn, Germany, averaged 17.5 points and 13.1 rebounds per game for the Bulldogs last season and earned All-Western State Conference North Division honors.

“Wolfgang will give us added depth in the front court and help our rebounding a great deal,” head coach Fran McCaffery said in a press release. “He is a mature stud­ent-athlete who should be able to adjust quickly as a result of his exper­ience at the Div­ision I and jun­ior college level. He’s also a tremendous person who will contribute greatly to the Siena community.”

Gieler began his college career at the University of California-

Irvine in 2006-07, when he played sparingly.

In 13 games, he averaged 1.9 points and 1.0 rebounds per game in 13 games.

He piled up impressive numbers at Allan Hancock, including double-doubles in 19 of the Bulldogs’ 30 games, and had six games in which he pulled down at least 20 rebounds.

His field-goal percentage of 61 percent led the conference, as did his 16.8 rebounds per conference game.

Gieler is expected to bolster the Saints’ inside game, which relied heavily on Franklin, a second-team all-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference player who averaged 8.0 rebounds per game. Josh Duell has good size at 6-10, 255, but he’s more comfortable facing the basket on offense.

No one else in the Siena lineup averaged more than 4.2 rebounds, and the Saints were outrebounded by an average of 4.6 per game through the regular season and MAAC tournament.

Still, the Saints had one of the best seasons in the Division I history of the program, winning the MAAC regular-season title on a tiebreaker, and taking the tournament champ­ionship for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, where Siena upset fourth-seeded Vanderbilt in the first round in Tampa, Fla., before losing to Villanova.

Gieler has two years of eligibility at Siena, which has officially filled the two scholarships that were available for next season.

Owen Wignot, a 6-5 forward from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., signed his national letter of intent on Nov. 16.

With Gieler in the fold, expect­ations will be through the roof for Siena, which returns its starting five, next year.

The Saints lost just one player to graduation, 5-9 three-point specialist Tay Fisher, and his role could be filled by Clarence Jackson, who had flashes of being able to provide instant offense off the bench as a freshman this season.

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