Summer workouts crucial for Siena basketball

'There are lots of jobs open'
Siena basketball coach Jimmy Patsos will be looking to fill a lot of minutes open with the departure of four key seniors.
Siena basketball coach Jimmy Patsos will be looking to fill a lot of minutes open with the departure of four key seniors.

LOUDONVILLE — The only thing that’s certain for the Siena College men’s basketball program as its summer workouts get going this upcoming week is the uncertainty. 

“There are lots of jobs open,” Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos said. “I just know there are minutes open.” 

Gone are forwards Brett Bisping, Lavon Long and Javion Ogunyemi, and guard Marquis Wright. All multi-year stars for the Saints, those four players combined to play 4,339 minutes during the 2016-17 season — 63.6 percent of the team’s minutes, a percentage which undoubtedly would have been higher if Long and Wright had not combined to miss four games because of suspensions.

The program also saw forwards Willem Brandwijk and Jimmy Merrill depart, the former as a transfer and the latter as a graduate.

What’s left for the Saints after an uneven campaign that ended in overtime of the MAAC tournament championship game? Well, that’s what Patsos and his coaching staff will start to evaluate in the coming weeks during what amounts to the preseason’s preseason. Patsos said rising junior Nico Clareth and rising sophomore Ahsante Shivers are penciled in as the team’s starting wing players, but what will surround them is largely a mystery at this point.

But it’s June. That’s OK.

“There are lots of moving pieces, but I’m excited to coach this team because of that,” Patsos said. “There’s going to be a big learning curve.”

What has Patsos most excited about his 2017-18 team is the versatility of the bulk of his roster. With few exceptions, each player on the Saints’ projected roster can play multiple positions, a group that includes incoming freshman wing Manny Camper

“He’s got a little Scottie Pippen in him,” Patsos said of Camper, who the coach also likened to Long for his ability to influence a game in a variety of ways. 

Joining Camper in Siena’s freshmen class are perimeter players Christian Bentley, Jordan Horn and Roman Penn — who enrolled at Siena this past January — and forward Prince Oduro, who has not yet officially qualified academically.

Oduro won’t be with Siena during its upcoming workouts, as the Toronto native will represent Canada at this summer’s FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup in Egypt.

“That’s good, I’m totally happy about that,” Patsos said of what’s likely his top recruit getting the chance to play internationally this summer. “We fully support that.”

Of Siena’s returning players, Patsos sees rising sophomore Khalil Richard and redshirt junior Kadeem Smithen as able to play both guard positions, while sophomore Thomas Huerter and redshirt junior Kevin Degnan are set to contend for minutes at the forward positions. Patsos said he sees rising sophomore Sammy Friday and junior Evan Fisher as each pushing for a starting spot as the team’s ‘5.’ 

“But you can’t get caught up in positions so much,” Patsos said. “Guys can either play or they can’t play.”

With the season’s first game still months away, there’s plenty of time to find out which of his guys fall into which category. But after a season in which Siena built itself around four veteran players, Patsos wants to see how his program’s players look to mold their games around proven commodities in Clareth and Shivers.

“It’s about who is going to adjust,” Patsos said.

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

Categories: -Sports-, College Sports

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