LOUDONVILLE — Nico Clareth was describing Bryant’s mindset heading into Sunday’s 1 p.m. road game.
The Siena College men’s basketball junior could have been talking about his own team.
“They’re a team that’s suffered a lot of losses,” Clareth said, “so they’re going to be hungry and ready to play.”
Siena, of course, has also suffered a lot of losses — but how the Saints will come out Sunday is a question. From Siena’s 2-8 start to the season, that’s probably the most disappointing part for the Saints, who head coach Jimmy Patsos openly admits haven’t play hard for 40 minutes on too many occassions so far this season.
“I’m proud of . . . 50 percent of the games this year,” Patsos said.
Patsos is quick to point out that’s unacceptable, even for a group giving so many minutes every game to freshmen. He hasn’t lost his optimism, though, about the season — “Let’s go. Let’s have some fun,” he said to start Friday’s practice — and has seen enough positive spurts to think these Saints can still make some noise in what appears to be a down season for the MAAC.
But . . .
“We’ve also felt sorry for ourselves and not competed against really good opponents,” Patsos said. “And that’s not OK.”
His players get that. The problem, sophomore Khalil Richard said, isn’t that the Saints don’t recognize the problem — it’s that they can’t pinpoint why their effort has lacked in a number of games this season.
“But when everyone has that right attitude that we’re going to play hard and as a team,” Richard said, “that’s when good things happen for us and it shows.”
Against Bryant (1-10), it’s likely Siena will change up its starting lineup after losing its last three games. Freshman Christian Bentley and junior Evan Fisher are candidates to move to the bench, while sophomore Sammy Friday could make his first start. Clareth or Richard could also move into the starting lineup.
Sophomore Ahsante Shivers missed Friday’s practice with a lower right leg injury, but he’s likely to play Sunday.
While Bryant has struggled this season, the Bulldogs — like Siena — have put together solid stretches of play. The Saints know they’re showing up Sunday to play against a team that played UAlbany to a halftime tie earlier in the Gotham Classic.
“No game is a breather,” Clareth said.
But Siena does get to take a breath coming up here. After its first 10 games included one game after another against winning programs, the Saints’ next several games come mostly against opponents with sub-.500 records.
“That’s a chance to get our confidence back going into league play,” Richard said. “And when we get into league play, we’re going to be ready.”
Siena has three non-conference games left before its MAAC opener against Marist. That’s enough time for the Saints to find some consistency ahead of their league slate.
“The No. 1 focus, I think, is let’s see if we can get more focused,” Clareth said, “because that’s what we’re looking to do going into MAAC play.”