The Collegiate Basketball Invitational is one of the several “mini” postseason tournaments that often sharpen its participants for vastly improved play the next season.
But according to first-year Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos, whose team beat Stony Brook, 66-55, in the opening round, the future is now.
Patsos agrees that the CBI is a great experience for his young players as they build for next year, but he’s more concerned with how his Saints handle this version of Penn State in a tourney quarterfinal tonight at 7 in the Times Union Center. The game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.
Penn State is the first Big Ten opponent to take on Siena in the Times Union Center. Both teams are 16-17.
“Yeah, the CBI usually does help your team the next year, but I’m not worried about that now,” said Patsos. “Marquis Wright and some of the other freshman guys will get some great experience, but I’m just as interested to see how Rob Poole, Brett Bisping, Imoh Silas and Evan Hymes play in this game.
“Penn State is a Big Ten team. They’ve got a $30 million budget for athletics. They are maybe not Michigan, Ohio State or Michigan State, but they are still a Big Ten team, and they are very good,” Patsos said.
Patsos is expecting the Nittany Lions to rely on their outstanding backcourt of DJ Newbill and Tim Frazier.
“They’ve got a great 1-2 punch. Their set of guards is as good as any,” he said. “It should be a very interesting matchup.”
Newbill averages 17.8 points per game, while Frazier adds 15.2 ppg and has 179 assists.
Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers, the former head coach at Boston University, is looking forward to the meeting.
“We’re a Big Ten team, and I’m sure Jimmy will have them ready to go for us,” Chambers said. “He’s got a young team. He’s a first-year coach at Siena, and it was the same thing for me back when I was at BU. You want to get to know them and build relationships. That’s why you’re doing this [the CBI] now, and that’s why I did it in my first year at BU. It definitely helps.”
Chambers guided the Terriers to the semifinals of the CBI in the 2009-10 season, and they ended up winning 20 games in back-to-back seasons, including a trip the NCAA tournament in 2010-11.
“There are a lot of advantages and no disadvantages to being here [in the CBI],” Chambers said. “This is Tim Frazier’s last go-around. Frazier and Newbill have been great for us. Their leadership, No. 1, and their pride in our program make them special.
“Their combined average is in the top five or top three of the Big Ten. They can score in a variety of ways. Tim broke our assist record, and Newbill is an efficient scorer. They also do other things. They don’t just score the basketball. They are complete players.”
Siena, which owns a 14-11 all-time record in national postseason tournaments, has won five of its last six games. The Saints are 11-4 at home.
Poole tops the team in scoring (14.8 ppg), followed by Bisping (10.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Hymes (9.2 ppg), who comes off the bench. Wright (8.7 ppg) is the first freshman to lead the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in assists in at least 20 years.
The winner advances to the semifinals Thursday at a site to be determined.