Albany Cup Not Just Another Game

bisping albany cup


Often in sports, prior to a big game, coaches and players are heard saying that to them, “it’s just another game”.  Although understandable as a tactic to downplay the significance of a contest to lessen the potential pressure felt by the participants, it is in fact rarely truthful. It is not only fans that get hyped up for a rivalry game such as the annual Albany Cup. On the eve of his first ever game as head coach at Siena, Jimmy Patsos discussed the significance.

“I’m excited to coach that game,” said Patsos. “It’s going to be a great game. It’s a great atmosphere. That’s why you come here for the job. I’m excited to play in front of our crowd. I’m very lucky to be part of a game that has 10,000 people at the mid major level.”

For Siena, Patsos will not be the only one to experience this game for the first time. With 5 freshmen likely to be in the playing rotation this season, the newest Saints will be thrown right into the fire as a crowd of well over 10,000 is expected at the Times Union Center for their season opener, college career opener and first ever game vs. U Albany. In fact, Patsos has named rookies Marquis Wright, Lavon Long and Javion Ogunyemi as starters on Friday night.

“That’s why they came here,” Patsos said. “Marquis came here to play. Lavon Long, it came down to (Loyola) and Siena so he knew this program. They know about this big game.”

For Ogunyemi, this is a game with which he is especially familiar. As a standout from nearby Troy High, he has attended the game in the past and is well aware of the attention it gets in the community. Admittedly there will be jitters to start, but he looks forward to settling in and playing it out.

“It’s big because obviously I know the history of the game,” said Ogunyemi. “This is a game that Capital District fans are looking forward to. For me being from this area, this is big for me. To be honest I think at the beginning of the game I will be nervous because of the fact it’s a big game. It’s the game I’ve been waiting for, plus it’s my first college game. I’m just gonna try to play hard, run the offense and do the things I do.”

Patsos faces the reality head-on that this IS a big game and that Siena’s youth will be effected to some degree but he remains hopeful that success will come from it nonetheless.

“Everybody’s gonna make mistakes early cause they’re gonna be nervous,” admits Patsos. “Coaches are gonna be nervous. It’s a tough atmosphere. I think they are young and athletic but they’ve earned it in practice. The term I’ve always enjoyed is ‘freshman mistakes’ and you’ve got to live with those. We’re going to play fast and make mistakes but I hope our youthful athleticism shows up.”

For Wright, being designated as the starting point guard this summer and having the opportunity to play that position for the Saints early on is likely to give him a head start.

“He’s coming around,” said Patsos. “Montreal helped him. He learned in Montreal. He learned at Army (scrimmage) and Evan is going to help him too because he’s a quiet kid. Marquis is a good kid. He loves it. I’m just happy the freshman love it here. They like it here at Siena. That matters.”

Wright got a bit of a taste what it’s like to play in front of the Siena faithful for the first time in the exhibition game vs. NJCU last Saturday. With 8 assists and just 1 turnover he looked sure and steady in running the team, but he knows this game must be played on another level.

“It was a good experience coming out and playing good in front of the fans but we’ve just got to pick it up leading up to the game on Friday, said Wright. “Being more vocal, that’s what I have to work on and that’s what I’m getting better at. My team mates are also helping me out.”

One team mate in particular he will lean on for advice is Hymes, who has experienced the Albany Cup twice before including a 21 point performance as a freshman point guard.

“You just wanna go out and compete and play hard,” said Hymes. “It’s a big game around here. The young fellas have no idea, with how many people are gonna be there, so we just wanna encourage them and make sure they come out and play hard.”

Siena assistant coach Lucious Jordan will be experiencing the rivalry for the first time on the Saints side but is quite familiar with what it’s like to actually be on the court, as a former Great Danes standout. He recalls that despite ties with the opponents socially and familiarity playing pick up together in the summer, come game time it was all business.

“We were all friends off the court but when it came to that game we were warriors between those four lines,” said Jordan. “We always wanna say it’s just another game on the schedule but you can’t treat it like that.”

As a coach he has helped to prepare his players to assure that their intensity matches the magnitude of the game.

“I think it’s every player’s dream, especially college basketball, to play in that type of environment with that type of excitement. It’s just a battle. You wanna go out there and perform in front of your family and friends and all those fans from your school and the opposite school. You play for bragging rights. There’s nothing like it.”







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