Siena has Bucknell’s attention

Javion Ogunyemi is 12 points away from becoming the fourth active Siena player in the 1,000-point club.
Javion Ogunyemi is 12 points away from becoming the fourth active Siena player in the 1,000-point club.

LOUDONVILLE — Bucknell has played, and beaten, MAAC foes Fairfield and Manhattan this season. So while Bucknell head coach Nathan Davis is not necessarily an expert on all things MAAC, he has a pretty good handle on a segment of the league as his team readies to play Siena College Saturday at Glens Falls Civic Center.

“And just watching them on film,” Davis said, “Siena is clearly the best of the three of those teams.”

That’s how MAAC coaches saw it before the season, too, judging the Saints to be the second-best team behind only Monmouth. While a 3-7 start to the season has some wondering if Siena will be able to make good on its preseason hopes of capturing its first league championship since the 2009-10 season, Bucknell’s second-year head coach said what his staff sees in the Saints is a team whose record is misleading.

“When you just look at their talent level, their physicality, the way they compete — all that stands out,” Davis said. “You have to remember they’ve played some really good people. They haven’t had many games where they’ve been a clear-cut favorite to win the game.”

Siena also won’t be a clear-cut favorite against Bucknell, which is off to a 7-3 start after winning last season’s Patriot League regular season title. Bucknell has won five of its last six games, while the Saints have lost four of their last five. Recently, though, Siena has played better. In their last nine halves of action, the Saints have outscored opponents 344-341; Siena has averaged only 12 turnovers per game in its last three contests; and, Siena’s defense has allowed 72.3 points per game in its last three game after allowing 77.1 in its first seven.

Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos said he remains optimistic about his team’s chances this season. Performing better in “critical situations” is his team’s focus moving forward.

“We have to close better,” Patsos said ahead of Saturday’s noon tipoff. “That’s on me as a coach.”

Redshirt senior forward Brett Bisping said he “couldn’t agree more” with Patsos that the Saints need to be better in late-game situations, but disagreed that Siena’s coaching staff should shoulder responsibility for the team’s early-season failures.

“We should take that on as players. We’re the ones out there,” Bisping said. “Coaches can prepare us as much as they want, but when it comes time to make the game-winning shot, when it comes time to get a stop, that’s on us. I think we need to step up as a team.”

Bucknell has proven its mettle at different points this season, including winning a road game against Vanderbilt of the SEC. To take Saturday’s game from Siena, Davis said his team will need to shut down the Saints’ multifaceted offensive attack.  

“You just go down the line. They all present problems for us,” Davis said. “That’s what makes them good.”


Siena senior forward Javion Ogunyemi heads into Saturday’s game with 988 career points.

Already this season, two other Siena players — senior forward Lavon Long and senior guard Marquis Wright — have scored their 1,000th career point. Meanwhile, Bisping scored his 1,000th career point last season.

Siena is the only Division I team this season with more than two 1,000-point scorers on its roster.


While Bucknell’s rotation consistently includes nine players, junior forward Zach Thomas and junior center Nana Foulland are the team’s only players averaging more than 10 points per game.

Thomas comes into the matchup with a per-game scoring average of 15.8, while Foulland is at 15.3.

Nine Bucknell players have appeared in each of the team’s games, with each averaging at least 7.3 minutes and no more than 29.4 minutes per game.


With a two-point margin each time, Siena has beaten Bucknell in each of the past two seasons.

Last season’s win came in an 83-81 overtime decision at Bucknell. Ogunyemi scored a game-high 24 points in that victory, while Bisping paired 16 points with 16 rebounds. Wright had 15 points.

In 2014, Siena won 73-71 at home. Wright had 24 points to lead the Saints in that matchup.


For the first time since 1994, Siena will play at Glens Falls Civic Center. While the venue is a bit of a bus ride from Siena’s campus, Long said he expects the Saints to feel at home.

“Forty-five minutes is nothing compared to all the traveling [we’ve done] this year,” Long said. “So I definitely see it as a home game still.”

Siena’s last game in Glens Falls came in the quarterfinals of the NIT, a game the Saints won 75-62 against Bradley.

“Glens Falls is cool. I like going there,” Patsos said. “It’s a cool place, good arena. It’s got our colors. [Playing there will be] fun to do.”

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Michael Kelly at 395-3109, [email protected], or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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