At 5-foot-8, Evan Hymes usually needs to get some extra arc on his three-point shot.
As he steps farther away from the basket, simple geometry says that arc needs to be even a little higher.
He’s OK with that. Siena’s sophomore point guard has been tossing up shots well behind the three-point stripe since he arrived, and lately, it’s been one of the reasons the Saints have been able to grind their way into a little bit of momentum heading past the midway point in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference season.
Siena, 3-3 in its last six games, gets another crack at Manhattan at 7 tonight in a game that will be broadcast live on ESPNU from the Times Union Center.
Hymes played so well last weekend that he earned the MAAC co-player of the week, shared with Niagara’s Juan’ya Green, who nearly had a triple-double in a win over the Saints last Friday.
“It’s [award] more of a confidence booster for myself, but I’ve got to continue to keep working and try to get a win [tonight],” he said.
In the Niagara game and a win over Marist on Sunday, Hymes was 13-for-21 (61.9 percent) from the field, including 7-for-10 from three-point range, and made 18 of 19 free throws for 51 points.
Turnovers have been a problem for him this year, but he had five assists with just two turnovers in the Marist win.
Despite an unproductive game in a loss at Canisius, Hymes has been hot from three-point range in the last six games, making 16 of 30 (53.3 percent) to raise his percentage to 33.3 for the season.
He said it’s a product of staying after practice and shooting, not a specific number of shots, but until he feels like he’s dialed in.
“[Wednesday], we had a long practice, but I still stayed afterwards to get extra shots in,” he said. “The thing my father was telling me is what I’m doing now, I have to continue to do it even though I’ve had some success. You have to keep working.”
As evidence of how Hymes is focused on team goals rather than individual statistics, he actually found out about the player of the week award from his father, Darryl, who texted him the news on Monday.
It was also clear based on how glum Hymes was after the Niagara loss. He had 30 points and six assists in that game, for which he was universally applauded by head coach Mitch Buonaguro and his teammates, but it didn’t matter to Hymes.
He said, “just getting back in the gym and working” was the “trophy” he received for the MAAC player of the week.
Because Siena had virtually no bench last year, Hymes led the nation for minutes played by a freshman, and it took a toll by the time the MAAC tournament rolled around.
He’s still averaging 34.2 minutes this year, but having Rakeem Brookins back in the lineup has lightened the load to some degree, which will be especially important tonight against Manhattan’s relentless press. Hymes has also been through the wringer of a college season, and knows better what to expect and how to handle it.
“I’m trying to stay in the whirlpool, get lots of treatment, get some heat on my back so it won’t tighten up,” he said. “Not even the minutes themself, but the pounding and the physicalness of college basketball is a big shock to a college freshman.”
Siena is 3-7 in the MAAC and
5-16 overall, and faces an important opportunity tonight, even though there are still eight conference games left. The Jaspers (4-6, 6-14) and Fairfield are one game ahead of Siena in the standings.
The Saints will be without freshman guard Ryan Oliver, who was scheduled to have his knee scoped today for a possible torn meniscus, and he is likely out for the rest of the season, but Siena could get forward Imoh Silas, who practiced on Thursday, back from an ankle injury.
In the first meeting with Manhattan, Siena trailed by seven at halftime, then buckled against the Jaspers’ press in the second half at Draddy Gym.
“Me and Rahk will do a better job handling the pressure this time,” Hymes said. “We’ve been working on it all week, using the back dribble to get away from the traps, and our big men flashing to the middle. When Rob [Poole] gets it in the middle, just go and attack, when there’s three people pressing me and Rahk.”