Momentum, not seeding, is the primary focus for first-year Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos.
The fact that the Saints already locked up the important fifth seed — and first-round bye for next week’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament in Springfield, Mass. — without having to win today is secondary to Patsos, who just wants his team to keep a positive attitude when it hosts Monmouth in the regular-season finale today at 2 at Times Union Center.
The Saints will honor their only senior, Steven Cruz, before the game, in the team’s annual Senior Day.
“We haven’t had goals about where our position is in the standings all year,” said Patsos, whose Saints are 10-9 in the MAAC and 14-16 overall. “But that doesn’t mean I’m not very proud of the fact that we did finish fifth and that we do have a bye. I think I’m more happy about the fact that we’ve won more close games down the stretch. They tend to even out, but we had been losing more than we had been winning the close ones, and we’ve been in a lot of close games this year. We’re about .500 in the close games now, and I’m very happy about that.”
Patsos said there is plenty of motivation against Monmouth.
“Remember, we lost to them in another close game at their place,” he said. “But whatever happens, I’m proud of this team. The players have accomplished a lot this year. Now we can get prepared for the tournament. But I will say one more thing. We wouldn’t be where we are without our fans. We owe them a good game [today].”
After beating Quinnipiac on the road, 72-70, Thursday night, the Saints are riding a three-game winning streak. The Saints’ last six contests, and eight of their last nine, have been one-possession games in the final minute. Siena is looking for its first four-game winning streak since the 2009-10 season.
Leading scorer Rob Poole (15.0 points per game) needs just three points to crack the 1,000-point mark for his career.
Freshman point guard Marquis Wright, one of the top contenders for MAAC rookie of the year honors, is leading the conference in assists (5.5 per game) and is second in steals (1.7 per game).
Brett Bisping is second on the team in scoring (10.1 ppg) and first in rebounding (6.2 rpg), while junior center Imoh Silas is fifth in the MAAC in blocked shots (1.6 per game). Freshman Lavon Long, the reigning MAAC rookie of the week, produces 9.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game as the other starter.
Monmouth (5-14, 11-19) beat Siena, 63-59, on Jan. 2.