Siena vs. Saint Peter’s: Saints begin league play without Wignot

Siena got a quick gulp of fresh air, and now will jump into the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference p

Siena got a quick gulp of fresh air, and now will jump into the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference pool at 7 tonight, when the Saints play at defending conference tournament champion Saint Peter’s.

Head coach Mitch Buonaguro gave the Saints Sunday off before returning to practice on Monday, and the four days between games represents the biggest gap in the schedule, so far.

Starting senior forward Owen Wignot continues to make progress after getting hit in the head in the season opener just over two weeks ago, but he will not play tonight.

“We’re obviously excited to start league play, and with the hectic pace, five games in 11 days, it was nice to get a little rest here,” Buonaguro said. “I’m optimistic that we’ll play well.”

Siena (2-3) has had just one bad game, a 72-44 loss at Georgia Tech, but is staring at a three-game losing streak and a bench that continues to be about as thin as it can get, with just two scholarship players, assuming Wignot doesn’t play.

Three starters, OD Anosike, Kyle Downey and Brandon Walters, are averaging over 35 minutes per game.

Freshman point guard Evan Hymes is averaging almost 32 minutes, and it would probably be a little higher if he hadn’t left early in the second half of the season opener with leg cramps.

“It’s a challenge in how you approach practice and give guys time off,” Buonaguro said. “We’ve got Kyle Downey and OD playing the whole game against Vermont, and we only went with six guys. I’m concerned with the freshmen wearing down. Hymes has issues with cramping, and [Rob] Poole didn’t feel well this weekend. Now we’ve got three games in five days, so it’s an issue.”

After tonight’s game, the Saints play two at home, against Loyola on Saturday and UAlbany on Monday.

Anosike had a breakout game at Vermont on Saturday, with a career-high 24 points and 10 rebounds.

He was instrumental in an eight-point run in the final minute and a half that pushed the game to the brink of overtime before the Catamounts prevailed, 64-62, on Matt Glass’ tip-in with a tenth of a second left.

“That’s as good as OD’s played,” Buon­aguro said.

“I was just feeling it offensively,” Anosike said after the game. “I could feel it in warmups that I was going to have a big game. The coaching staff drew up some plays for me, and my teammates did a great job throwing the ball to me. I’m just blessed that I was able to finish it out.”

“We’ve put a lot of work into Siena,” said Saint Peter’s head coach John Dunne, a former Siena assistant. “They play with a lot of enthusiasm, and with the exception of Georgia Tech, they’ve been keeping games close, even if they don’t win them.”

The Peacocks are 1-4, having beaten just Binghamton, 66-43.

Saint Peter’s is coming off a 63-54 loss at Seton Hall in which the Peacocks put together a solid defensive effort for the second game in a row, something Dunne has been waiting to see.

“We had decent performances against Seton Hall and Binghamton, but we took the first three games off, unfortunately,” he said. “The young guys don’t yet know the intensity and focus you need on the defensive end. I’m really happy with the last two outings, defensively.”

Many of the players from last year’s team, which upset Iona in the tournament championship game, are gone, but Saint Joseph’s transfer Chris Prescott has stepped into the leading-scorer role.

He’s averaging 14.6 points a game.

“He’s been a little up and down,” Dunne said. “He’s had some good shooting nights and some not-so-good nights. He’s also had some foot problems, so he’s only practiced about 10 times.

“We still need him to shake the rust off, get his legs under him and learn our system and the intensity we want on the defensive end. But he’s tough-minded, and continues to improve day by day.”


Former Siena player Clarence Jackson, who graduated in the spring after an injury-plagued senior season, has signed to play pro ball in the Ukraine. …

Nine former Siena athletes will be inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame Saturday afternoon before the women’s-men’s double-header at the Times Union Center.

The class of 2011 includes Katy Sturgis Robinson, Hank Wysocki, Dwayne Archbold, Gunta Basko, Nicole Mayer, Liene Jansone, Robert Bigley, Noel Cox and John Lannan.

Categories: College Sports

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