Saints’ Wignot expected to play tonight against Mountaineers

Siena heads into a game at Mount St. Mary’s at 7 tonight comfortable in the knowledge that its fresh

Before he started his postgame comments on Wednesday, Siena head coach Mitch Buonaguro cracked open a can of caffeinated energy drink.

“My wife just gave me this; she said it would keep me awake,” Buonaguro said with a chuckle.

Even so, Buonaguro must have slept easy after Siena opened the season with a 65-56 victory over Navy at the Times Union Center.

Not only did the Saints win, but they did so despite losing two starters to injury, and another for most of the first half due to foul trouble.

Siena heads into a game at Mount St. Mary’s at 7 tonight comfortable in the knowledge that its freshmen will hold up their end, as they did against the Midshipmen.

The Saints got some good news on Friday when senior forward Owen Wignot said he expects to play after banging his head while driving to the basket early in the Navy game. Wignot, who missed two games last season with concussion-like symptoms, went to the lockerroom and didn’t get back on the floor.

He did some running at a morning practice, and Buonaguro said Wignot will be able to start tonight.

“I’ll check with him [today], but he is feeling better,” Buonaguro said. “I actually looked at the film, and we played pretty well. There weren’t a lot of negatives. With Owen and Evan [Hymes] out and being down to six guys, that was a hell of a win.”

The freshman Hymes, starting at point guard for injured Rakeem Brookins, left the game in the second half with leg cramps, and another freshman, Davonte Beard, took his place and played well despite the fact that he’s more comfortable at shooting guard.

“I’m elated with the win,” Buonaguro said afterward. “We looked like a team that was able to do the stuff that we worked on. We moved the ball, very few turnovers.

“[OD] Anosike had one point, Wignot didn’t really play and those are two of our best players, and we still won the game by nine points. It was a pleasant surprise.”

Anosike picked up his second foul five minutes into the game and sat the rest of the first half.

He attempted just two shots and scored his only point on a free throw in the second half.

It wasn’t the start to the season that the 6-foot-8 junior had envisioned, but he was happy with the win.

“I was just trying to stay positive,” Anosike said. “Obviously, it was frustrating to have two fouls early. I knew if we hung around, we’d have a good chance to pull it out. I had a tough time getting into an offensive rhythm. When I got the ball in the post, they were really crowding me and sending a double on me or a big man down hard on me. It was encouraging how my teammates picked up the slack.”

Mount St. Mary’s (1-1) is coached by Robert Burke, who was a Siena assistant under Paul Hewitt for three seasons from 1997-2000.

He suspended two players, senior guard Lamar Trice and sophomore Kristijan Krajina, indefinitely last week for violating team rules.

Trice was named the Northeast Conference’s most improved player last season after averaging 13.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

“He’s their best guy,” Buonaguro said. “They’re very athletic, with good backcourt scoring. Marquette was a tough opener for them, and then they blew out Hartford.”

Mount St. Mary’s opened with a 91-37 loss to Marquette, then beat Hartford, 63-50.

Siena received two national letters of intent, from Richard Audu, a 6-4 guard from Regional Elite Development Academy in Orangeville, Ont., and 6-8 Brett Bisping of Morton High in Illinois.

“Richard is a very physical player who will give us another threat on the perimeter,” Buonaguro said. “We were happy to get Brett, because he’s a skilled big guy, he’s intelligent.”

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