The Siena Saints have talked a lot about pushing the ball and running more this season.
It’s about time they started actually doing it.
That has been a point of emphasis in practice this week as Siena has prepared for today’s 2 p.m. game at Maine.
In five games, Siena boxscores show a total of six fast-break points, including none during a three-game stretch at the NUCDF Basketball Challenge in San Diego.
What’s disturbing about that is that, for two of those games, Siena finally regained the services of Rakeem Brookins and Trenity Burdine, after each missed last season due to injury and the first three games of this season because of suspensions.
Brookins, in particular, was supposed to put some turbo boost in the Saints’ offense, but so far, it hasn’t happened.
Senior forward O.D. Anosike continues to do his thing, averaging 15.2 points and 13.2 rebounds, and the Saints actually are shooting well from three-point range, but they need to add another component — a running game — to get their offense out of the doldrums.
The Saints are averaging 57.4 points per game, near the bottom of the 10-team Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
“We’ve been working on it, trying to make some adjustments to push it more and cut down on turnovers,” head coach Mitch Buonaguro said. “We’ve got to emphasize it more and get the ball out quicker, which we haven’t done.”
The 2-3 Saints have been off since going 1-2 at the NUCDF, pulling out the one victory on a late jumper by Brookins against Northern Kentucky.
Starting point guard Evan Hymes played well against Northern Kentucky, but totaled 22 turnovers in the Basketball Challenge, including 11 against Cal State Northridge. He’s averaging 5.6 turnovers per game, and his assist/turnover ratio is .54.
“In his defense, not all of them were his fault,” Buonaguro said. “On some of the plays, guys weren’t meeting the passes, so it was a combination of things. But he played well against Northern Kentucky. The third game [against San Diego], I think he’d like to have that one back, because he got a little sideways and needed to focus more. But I’m not worried about him.”
An encouraging development for Siena at the NUCDF was better three-point shooting.
The Saints were 28-for-61, almost 50 percent, in the three games.
The theory going into the season was that a more dangerous perimeter game would alleviate some of the non-stop double teams that Anosike faces.
That hasn’t happened yet, but at least the Saints are making teams pay for it.
“O.D.’s been getting better at kicking it out, and the guys are getting looks,” Buonaguro said. “It’s been a pleasant surprise. We expect that teams will keep doubling O.D. We went into the season expecting to play inside-out.”
Siena’s starting lineup against Maine (0-4) will be Anosike, Hymes, Brookins, Rob Poole and Imoh Silas, who has replaced the unproductive Davis Martens. Now that Burdine is back, as well, he’ll continue to play a regular role in the rotation.
“I’ve been very pelased with both [Brookins and Burdine],” Buonaguro said. “Certainly, Rahk gave us a big lift against Northern Kentucky and won the game for us with that jumper, and Trenity has been very consistent. He has good energy and has defended well.”
The starting time for Siena’s Dec. 4 game at St. Bonaventure has been moved from 7 to 9 p.m., to accommodate a live national broadcast on NBCSN. . . .
Siena has joined the field for the Old Spice Classic at the HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., to be held Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 1 in 2013.
Besides Siena, the field for the eighth annual event will include Butler, LSU, Memphis, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Saint Joseph’s and Washington State.
The 2013 Old Spice Classic will feature a bracket format with 12 games over three days. Each team will compete in one game per day, advancing through the bracket. The two teams that remain undefeated throughout will face off in a championship game on the final day of competition.
Siena played in the 2008 Old Spice Classic, losing to Tennessee, Wichita State and Oklahoma State.