Are two years enough to establish what would be considered a tradition?
In each of his two years as the Siena men’s basketball head coach, Mitch Buonaguro has forgotten to introduce one of his players at media day.
This time, it was junior forward Davis Martens who got the snub on Friday, even after Buonaguro went out of his way to bring a printed roster to the podium.
Perhaps Buonaguro was preoccupied with who will actually be on the floor when the Saints open the season, and who won’t be.
Martens, who is out for the season with a torn labrum, is one of those who won’t be. Siena also found out this week that promising sophomore Trenity Burdine, a projected starter at small forward, is another, at least for a month.
That leaves the Saints with a roster that includes six freshmen, two of whom are still waiting for an appeal to the NCAA to see if they can play this year.
It adds up to a level of uncertainty heading into the season, which will begin on Nov. 16 at home against Navy.
“Preseason polls, I’ve read them all, I’m a big reader of basketball magazines,” Buonaguro said. “I don’t put any stock in them. It comes down to where you finish. It’s not about where you get picked, and I’ve told the team that. We expect to have a very good season; we always do at Siena. What matters is what happens at the end of the game, not what people say about your team.”
“With six freshmen and new coaches, I’m sure it’s going to be hard for people to gauge what we have,” junior forward OD Anosike said. “So there will be a little bit of a surprise element, which can be good in some cases.”
Burdine, 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, received a second opinion on his injured foot this week and had it placed in a protective boot on Thursday.
He’ll be out for at least a month, and even when he comes back, it will take at least three weeks for him to regain lost fitness, Buonaguro said.
“It’s disappointing,” Buonaguro said. “He’s a great kid. I thought, this year, he was really going to step his game up, but he’s hurt.
“And there’s no guarantee after a month. Then you’ve got to get him ready. Plus, he’s a guy who’s got experience, which we’re low on. And he’s a small forward, so now you have to maybe go smaller with three guards, or play Poole a lot.”
Freshmen Rob Poole, from Haddonfield, N.J., and Davonte Beard, who graduated from the same high school that produced LeBron James, were expected to get more than
token playing time, just not as much early in the season as they likely will find themselves getting.
“It impacts us a lot,” sophomore point guard Rakeem Brookins said. “We need Trenity on the court. He’s a big body, he can shoot the ball, he can drive.
“Davonte Beard is a great player, and Rob Poole is a great shooter, so they’ll pick up that slack.”
Siena had its first official team practice on Friday.
The Saints are still waiting to find out if their African freshmen, Lionel Gomis of Senegal and Imoh Silas of Nigeria, will be able to play this season.
The NCAA initially took away all but one year of eligibility from the two, based on enrollment legislation that was adopted in April 2010, but wasn’t enacted until this past August.
It says that players must have completed their high school core curriculum requirements within a five-year period, or the international equivalent.
Due to circumstances involving their move from Africa to the U.S., Gomis and Silas each had their high school educations extend beyond the five-year window.
Last month, the NCAA reinstated two years of eligibility, but still said Gomis and Silas would have to sit out this year.
Given one more chance to appeal, athletic director John D’Argenio said the school submitted its case on Gomis’ case last week and expect to get a ruling by the middle of next week. Silas’ final appeal was submitted on Friday.
“A lot has been made about the issues with the NCAA and the two African freshmen, and we hope to get that resolved next week,” Buonaguro said. “A lot has been about the injuries, and we’re not going to make any excuses. Injuries are a part of college basketball, and we have a couple. So, we move forward.
“We’re not rebuilding. I’ve heard that comment, but we’re not rebuilding. I don’t want to hear that from anybody. We’re going out to be competitive and try and win. But I do think we’ll have to measure success this year a little bit differently each day because of the youth of the team.”
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