A Seat in the Bleachers: Anosike avoids a PR disaster

“You do not talk about Fight Club” is the first and second rule of Fight Club. You don’t dare utter

“You do not talk about Fight Club” is the first and second rule of Fight Club.

You don’t dare utter the term “no-hitter” in the dugout when your pitcher is working on one.

If you say, “Let’s get two” in the lockerroom before the first game of a double-header, you’re liable to get a bar of soap bounced off the back of your skull.

And you don’t talk about a game, any game, in advance, when there’s another one still looming on your schedule.

But us self-serving reporters, we have pesky deadlines and time management issues, so I asked OD Anosike to break every rule in the book last Friday and just give us a wee taste of what was on his mind for Monday’s Albany Cup matchup against UAlbany.

At the time, he and the Siena Saints still had a game against Loyola to play on Saturday, a very important Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game that should’ve dominated Anosike’s every waking thought and perhaps his most active REM sleep, too.

But, trying to kill two birds with one stone, since a Monday advance was due on Sunday, we diverted Anosike’s attention from Loyola, Loyola, Loyola just long enough to get him to indulge our request by saying, “We’re Siena; they’re UAlbany. Regardless of what’s happened this year, regardless of what’s happened last year, we still feel that we’re the favorite.”

Anosike didn’t get in trouble for saying this, but it did draw some attention and was duly noted by everyone, presumably the Great Danes, too.

And it was a potential PR disaster for the Saints’ junior forward and best player, because all evidence was to the contrary.

For one thing, it would’ve been easy for some observer to comment that he had no business saying it and should’ve simply erred on the side of diplomacy and vanilla and said all the “right” things, Albany’s a great team, it’ll be a great game, etc.

For another, Siena came into the game with a five-game losing streak, including the one to Loyola, while the Great Danes have a team that’s in the top three or four in the America East.

For another, UAlbany beat the Saints last year, and then Siena graduated one of the best players in school history, Ryan Rossiter.

Anosike backed up what he said and then some, though.

After a slow start to the season, he is playing as well as he ever has, and Monday’s 64-60 victory was the best of his career, 21 points, 18 rebounds, two emphatic dunks at the start of the second half as the Saints woke up from a 19-point deficit late in the first half.

He fielded the inevitable question about the “favorite” quote, paused a beat and said:

“I spoke out a little too early, probably, having a game before that. But I was still confident. I was confident with the little I knew of Albany, and the lot I knew about our group here.

“I was going to try to come out and play my game. I wasn’t going to take this game personally. I was going to play it like a normal game. Obviously, it’s not, but that’s what I was trying to do.”

Head coach Mitch Buonaguro answered that question, too, by laughing and saying, “I wish OD would tweet less,” and perhaps the biggest shock of the night was that the 56-year-old coach even knows what Twitter is.

Anosike was careful to point out that, though the quote had some shelf life on Twitter, it didn’t actually originate on that platform via Anosike’s own account.

“Coach has a lot of trust in me,” he said. “With the tweeting, I don’t think I said it on Twitter, so I’m going to have to relay that to coach. I think he’s under the perception that I did, but I didn’t.

“Coach is a pretty hip guy. Being around us, we help him out with that stuff a little bit.”

The night started for Anosike with the second wardrobe malfunction of the season.

He forgot to pack his jersey for the Georgia Tech trip and wore No. 50 instead of No. 1.

The Saints broke out new yellow jerseys for the UAlbany game, and his name was spelled “Anisoke,” to go hand-in-hand with UAlbany head coach Will Brown’s off-kilter “Anna-SEEK-ay” pronunciation (it’s “Anna-SICK-ee”).

“I was hoping nobody would realize that, but obviously, there was a technical issue, and we’re going to have to get on top of that immediately, and I think wearing yellow jerseys will be suspended until we get new jerseys,” Anosike said. “I picked it up, saw the mistake, and, you know, what are you going to do?”

Hey, everybody makes mistakes.

Hindsight is 20-20, so Anosike’s claim of Siena favoritism turned out to be spot-on.

It was no exaggeration to say that he dominated inside against the Great Danes.

“Every once in awhile, it’s good to see one of your leaders show some confidence,” senior guard Kyle Downey said. “It just shows the confidence he has in us.”

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