Siena coach Jimmy Patsos knew their coach Sean Woods hit the shot for Kentucky in the 1992 NCAAs that put the Wildcats ahead of Duke with 2.1 seconds to play — until Christian Laettner nailed one of the most famous game-winners in basketball history.
Patsos also knew Morehead State (19-12) is scrappy, and can rebound, and that the Eagles finished third in the Ohio Valley Conference, just like his Saints finished third in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Fitting they were playing each other tonight in the CBI at Times Union Center (7 p.m.) rather than the NCAAs or NIT.
“We came in third place,” Patsos said. “We are in the third-place tournament.”
So by Monday morning he knew of the Eagles coach, and where they finished, and that they reminded him of Manhattan and . . . well not much more. Siena did not know their first round College Basketball Invitational opponent until after 9 p.m. Sunday night, so coming up with a detailed scout in time for a midday Monday practice required late hours — and mostly hoping you play your ‘A’ game.
“This is a real test,” Patsos said. “I like that we don’t know who they are.”
Ever since Siena got knocked out of the MAAC Tournament by eventual champion Iona more than a week ago, it has been practicing not knowing which tournament it would play in, let alone its opponent. And there was a transition period, as the players had to get over the fact the Saints (21-12) were not going to the NCAAs, and likewise were not going to be invited to the tournament dubbed the Not Invited Tournament (NIT) that is still coveted by mid-majors.
“We wanted to go the NCAAs, that’s what we wanted to do, but right now we are excited to be playing basketball,” said Brett Bisping, who in 2014 was named MVP of the CBI when a 15-17 Siena team went on a 5-1 run and won the title. (The final round is a best-of-three format). “It’s always good to be playing this time of year.”
Patsos said a postseason tournament such as the CBI can give invaluable experience to his younger players such as Nico Clareth, who just experienced his first MAAC Tournament.
“In a way it’s a little bit of practice for next year,” he said.
And for freshmen like Clareth and others, there is still an air of postseason basketball, even if it is not the top-tier tournament.
“It’s very intense. Everything changes,” Clareth said. “Everybody plays one level up.”
Even veteran players have something to gain. Junior Marquis Wright doesn’t have to wait until next season to avenge his 2-for-11 shooting performance in the 81-70 MAAC Tournament loss to Iona.
“It’s always a great feeling to play more games,” said Wright,” who missed two months of the season with a stress fracture in his foot. “This tournament will help us for next season.”
The game will air on Talk1300 AM with Robert Lee and Tom Huerter. The game could be the last for Huerter, the former Siena player and longtime color commentator, as he is stepping away from the mic after this season to watch his sons Kevin (Maryland) and Thomas (Siena) play basketball. . . .
The game can also be viewed via online video webstream (pay-per-view) at SienaAllAccess.com.
Categories: College Sports