Without overtime, there are only 40 minutes in a college basketball game.
That might not be quite enough to satisfy this year’s Siena College basketball team.
One might think that with a veteran roster returning from a CBI championship, this year’s group of Saints would be comfortable with their playing time.
Second-year head coach Jimmy Patsos expects there to be plenty of battles for PT, even though the core players from last season will remain in key roles.
“Brett [Bisping], Rob [Poole], Lavon [Long] and Marquis [Wright] will most likely be the starters again, but there are a lot of battles for the other spot, as well as the bench,” said Patsos, who plans on using at least 10 players in every game.
“For example, a guy like Javion [Ogunyemi] has been working his butt off, and he’s very improved. Ryan Oliver is a 6-foot-5 guy who is very smart and can really shoot the ball.”
Patsos, who held court at Friday’s annual media day, said players like Maurice White and Evan Hymes will also be in the mix.
“And Imoh is Imoh,” he added about Imoh Silas, the team’s 6-9 defensive ace in the middle.
Perhaps the most intriguing addition will be 6-5, 221-pound redshirt sophomore Patrick Cole, a transfer from Coppin State.
Despite lots of talk about Cole perhaps moving into the starting lineup, Patsos said not so fast.
“Can he help us? Of course, but as of right now, he won’t start,” said Patsos. “We want to see what happens when we give him a chance to play.”
Patsos, who loves to use horse racing analogies, said that Cole is a 3-year-old and not a 2-year-old colt.
“We’ve got to see what he does. I think he can be a great closer. He’s one of the few players we have who can create his own shot.”
Several Siena veterans said they don’t mind the competition.
“It’s going to be good to have all the new kids,” said Poole, a 6-6 senior guard who was the Saints’ leading scorer last year at 14.6 points per game. “I think we have nine or 10 guys who can really play. As far as chemistry goes, that’s what we find out in practice. We find out what the new guys can do, and then we establish good chemistry.”
Poole was asked how the talented Cole would fit into the lineup.
“He does a lot of things on the court. He can create a shot and go hard to the basket. That means a lot more open shots for me on the perimeter,” Poole said.
Silas, one of the best shot-blockers in Siena history, said he is ready for the competition on his own team for playing time.
“It will be a lot of fun,” he said. “We all help each other on this team, and coach Patsos knows what he’s doing. I’ll do whatever he asks me to do. I love to rebound and block shots, and I’ll do that whenever I get into the lineup.”
Bisping, a junior forward who averaged 11.6 ppg and excelled in the CBI tournament, echoed his teammates about playing time.
“It makes us all better when we compete for playing time in practice,” he said.
Michael Wolf, a 6-9 sophomore forward; Jimmy Merrill, a 6-10 sophomore from Columbia High School; Cameron Gottfried, a freshman guard from Raleigh, N.C.; Jimmy Paige, a 6-4 freshman swingman; and Willem Brandwijk, a 6-8 freshman forward from The Netherlands, are also competing for playing time, along with junior guard Mike Wilson.
Siena once again faces a demanding schedule with plenty of games on the road in the first half of the season.
“It takes toughness to win on the road. We learned that last year,” said Bisping.
Siena hosts Gannon in an exhibition game Nov. 8 at the Alumni Recreation Center and then opens the season at UMass Nov. 14.
Patsos said there are discussions — in the very early stages — about a possible home-and-home series with Syracuse, although it would most likely be a 2-for-1 deal. “We’re willing participants,” he said.
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