COHOES — The Siena College men’s basketball team already has an international influence, but it’s going to get a taste of the country soon when it leaves for a 10-day, three-game tour of Italy from Aug. 18-28.
The Saints have six international players, including three freshmen. One of those players is 6-foot-2, 170-pound point guard Zekeriya Yigit Tekin, from Istanbul, Turkey. He has experience playing on club and professional teams in Turkey. Watch some of his video clips and one thing that jumps out is the high speed at which he plays.
“Yes, but I need to control my pace. I like fast game,” Yigit Tekin said Wednesday at the Daniel P. Hytko Court, the first completed project of the Siena Court Rehabilitation Project, at which Siena’s men’s and women’s basketball teams appeared.
“He’s a pure point guard,” Siena coach Carmen Maciariello said of Yigit Tekin. “He has high IQ, knows how to play, great instincts. He really just has a great feel for the game. Talking about defensive rotations, he doesn’t even know what we’re saying, and he’s doing it naturally without us having to tell him.”
In the U18 European Challengers last August, while playing for Turkey, Yigit Tekin averaged 5 points and 2.8 assists per game.
Maciariello said the biggest thing the college will need to work with Yigit Tekin on is learning more English.
“Because being a point guard, you’ve got to be able to direct traffic,” Maciariello said.
“My favorite part is assists. I like to play with the team. I like to feed my guys,” said Yigit Tekin, who noted that he wants to work on improving his shooting skills and his defense.
“He does understand,” Maciariello said. “I talk to him and I give him the thumbs-up. But to grow him, we need him to talk more. But we’re really happy with him as a player and as a person, really great kid. And it’s about him studying the English language. Mom’s an English teacher back in Turkey, so that helps. He understands more than he can speak.”
One thing that always translates is a smile, and when asked what he thought about Siena’s chances after having some practices with his teammates, that came out.
“We’re a very good team,” he said. “I’m so excited to play with my team.”
CLEARED FOR DUTY
Two important players for Siena have recently been cleared to practice and play. Sophomore guard Jared Billups, who had wrist surgery in April, was cleared on Tuesday and practiced for the first time Wednesday. Also, Guilderland’s Andrew Platek, a graduate student who missed most of last season after needing Achilles surgery, also has been cleared to play.