Siena will walk a thin line between hitting the boards hard as part of an aggressive, high-energy game plan and trying to stay out of foul trouble when the Saints host rugged Quinnipiac in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener for both teams tonight at 7 at Times Union Center.
The 2-3 Saints came up just short in their last game at Fordham, despite a career-high 31 points from sophomore point guard Marquis Wright. Siena’s frontcourt players struggled in that game, and they must elevate their play against the 3-2 Bobcats, who are one of the best rebounding teams in the country.
“We have to rebound the basketball,” said second-year head coach Jimmy Patsos. “We’re looking for 40 minutes of basketball from everybody. This is definitely a big game for us. The Fordham loss was tough, but we keep moving forward. Quinnipiac is a good team with four seniors.”
Patsos said the Saints need to enjoy the entire game more, and he’s hoping for a better effort from the whole roster.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” he said. “We don’t deserve anything. The most effort stat is rebounding, and they [the Bobcats] are an effort team.”
Foul trouble continues to plague Siena, which was one of the national leaders in that statistic a year ago.
“We foul too much. You have to pick your spots when you foul,” Patsos said. “I think playing a zone helps.”
Lavon Long (10 ppg, 6.4 rpg), a 6-foot-7 sophomore swingman, said the Saints will be ready for the Bobcats.
“We will play 40 minutes against Quinnipiac,” he said. “It’s all about being smart. We have to attack, but sometimes, it’s better to back off a little. This is our first league game, so it’s very important.”
One of the Saints who has struggled recently is 6-8 junior forward Brett Bisping, who was one of their key players a year ago.
“We’ve shown spurts when we’ve played tough, but we need to play all 40 minutes. We need to play with more emotion,” he said. “These kind of games are fun, and we always play hard in front of our home crowd. The more people we have who are playing well, the better off we will be.”
Siena’s most consistent player so far has been Wright, who ,along with his breakout scoring effort at Fordham, has 29 assists vs. just nine turnovers. Siena is 16th in the nation in fewest turnovers at just 10.4 per game.
“This is a big game because it’s the MAAC opener,” said Wright. “We have to bring toughness, energy and intensity right from the start. It’s very important to take care of the ball.”
Wright (14 ppg) said that people shouldn’t expect him to score the way he did against the Rams. “I hit some layups early, and the guys just told me to keep shooting,” he said.
Quinnipiac is paced by preseason All-MAAC first-team selection Ousmane Drane (17 ppg, 11 rpg), a 6-9 senior forward, and second-team pick Zaid Hearst (19 ppg, 7 rpg), a 6-4 senior guard.
The Bobcats are outrebounding their opponents by 16 per game.
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Categories: College Sports