Albany Cup Preview: Siena vs. UAlbany

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Siena faces crosstown rival UAlbany on Saturday in the annual Albany Cup Game. The premier capital region basketball event features a double header with the women’s teams. Tipoff of the women’s opener is scheduled for 5 pm, followed by the men’s game at 7:30.

“This is a great test for us,” said Siena coach Jimmy Patsos, ”I love the Albany game. It’s one of the best mid-major games out there. There’s a cup that goes along with it. Now, we have no cup. So, you have to go get it and earn it against Will Brown’s two-time NCAA team.”

This is the 54th meeting overall between the two teams with Siena leading the series 32-21. The Saints have won 9 of the last 13 games since the renewal of the rivalry however the Danes have taken the last 3 out of 4. UAlbany won the most recent meeting last season, 74-62. The average attendance for the 13 Albany Cup games is 10,968.

“This is a rivalry game,” Patsos said. ”You can wipe all the things off the board. We’ll have more people than USC/UCLA. It’s great for the community. This is why you coach.

Siena enters the game with a record of 3-5 overall and 1-1 in the MAAC following a 21-point win over Quinnipiac and a 80-68 loss at Rider last weekend.

Siena is 2nd in the MAAC and 33rd in the nation, averaging 77.1 ppg this season after averaging 69.3 last season and just 60.0 ppg. two years ago. They have scored over 80 points three times already this year after doing so just three times in the last two seasons. The Saints scored over the 80 mark three times last season, two of which came in overtime games and zero times in 2012-2013.

The Saints will be without junior Brett Bisping who underwent surgery on an injured toe on Friday. Bisping who had started in the last 37 straight games for Siena is expected to miss at least the next eight weeks.

Siena is led in scoring by 6-1 sophomore point guard Marquis Wright who averages 14.7 points per contest. His 5.3 assists per game and 3.4 assists to turnover ratio lead the MAAC. Wright has been exceptional over the last three games averaging 18.7 points, 3.7 assists, 3 steals and 3 rebounds. He shot 65% from the field, 44% from three point range and committed just 3 total turnovers in the three games last week.

Senior captain Rob Poole is second on Siena in scoring averaging 14.3 points.

“We want to win a lot,” said Poole of the matchup with the Danes. ”I won it freshman year and the past two years, Albany had a really good team and went to the NCAA Tournament. It will be a great win if we can get it. We just have to go out there and play hard. I think it’s a great rivalry for the city of Albany. They’re just tough. They’re a tough team. Coach Brown does a good job of making those guys tough. They rebound the ball. They’re big strong guys.”

Sophomore Lavon Long, recently named a team captain and junior Ryan Oliver are each averaging 10.2 points for the Saints. Long leads the team in rebounding with 6.0 boards per game. He holds a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio this season after having 46 assists and committing 70 turnovers last season. Oliver leads the MAAC in 3-point percentage (53%) and is 2nd in FG percentage (59%). He has nailed 16 of 30 from beyond the arc while the rest of the team has shot 23-81 (28.4%) from distance.

Siena will rely on increased contributions from big men Javion Ogunyemi and Willem Brandwijk in the absence of Bisping and Imoh Silas who was lost to a season ending knee injury. Ogunyemi is averaging 6.3 points this year after tallying just 1.9 ppg. as a freshman. Brandwijk will be making his fourth start in this, his freshman season. He had his best performance in Siena’s last home game, scoring 12 points.

“We lost to them last year and it’s been sitting on our minds for a year. It’s very frustrating,” said Ogunyemi. ”Rowley and Hooley, they’re very good players and their team is very well coached. As a group we have to accept the challenge and try to contain them. We just want to focus on bringing the cup back this year.”

“There is going to be a lot of people there which is of course very exciting,” said Brandwijk on playing in his first Albany Cup Game. ”It’s a great rivalry game. Great atmosphere and I just can’t wait to play in the game. It’s really cool.”

“The team, of course we really want to win this game very bad,” Brandwijk continued. ”You hear it on campus too from other students like’ ‘Hey we’ve got to win this year’. I think we’re all ready and we know what our job is. They’re gonna be tough and also they’re gonna be ready to play. We have to be ready and be able to fight back. It will definitely be a great game. They have a lot of good things but we also do. They have weaknesses and we have weaknesses. It’s whoever’s gonna attack that part the best. I think the best men will win at the end.”

Pat Cole has been a key contributor off the bench averaging 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists over the last three games for the Saints.

Former team manager Ryan Kelley has been added to the Siena roster as a walk on. The 6-3 sophomore forward will wear the number 14.

Fouls continue to be a theme in Siena games as their 25.3 fouls committed per game is the second most in Division I. The 24.0 free throws made per game by opponents is the highest in the country. However, the Saints 19.3 free throws made per game places them 12th in the nation.

The Great Danes enter the game with a record of 2-6 after dropping a 61-58 decision at Bucknell. It was their 4th straight loss. They have also suffered losses to Providence, UNLV, Holy Cross, St. Francis (Pa) and Quinnipiac. Their two wins this season were over NJIT and at Colgate.

UAlbany is coming off the 2013-14 season with a record of 19-15 overall and 9-7 in the America East, good for 4th place. They won the conference tournament to advance to their second consecutive NCAA Tournament last season. The Danes lost three starters from a year ago and have nine newcomers on the roster. They were picked to finish 3rd in the America East Preseason Poll.

The Danes are led by 6-6 senior forward Sam Rowley and 6-4 junior guard Peter Hooley.  Both were chosen to the All-America East 2nd Team last season. Rowley leads UAlbany in scoring and rebounds averaging 13.8 points and 8.8 boards per game. Hooley a preseason All-America East 1st teamer, averages 13.0 points and a team-high 2.6 assists.

Evan Singletary, a 6-1 junior point guard transfer from Moberly Area CC. rounds out the double figure scorers for the Danes, chipping in 11.1 points per game. Freshman Greig Stire, a graduate of nearby CBA, is averaging 10.3 minutes for UAlbany.

“Hooley’s as good of a competitor as I’ve ever seen,” Patsos said. ”Hooley’s tough. He just keeps coming. He keeps bringing it. Sam’s a great rebounder. He knows how to play. Singletary’s good, Baltimore point guard, really good. We know him. Stire down the street probably thinks we should have recruited him and I would have if he didn’t commit two days after I got the job.  I know Strire’s gonna want to play.”

This is the final year of the current contract between the two teams and much has been made from both sides as to the potential conditions of any future deal.

“This is one of the great rivalry games in the country,” summed up Patsos. ”To get 10,000 people or above, the schools are this close. They both want to win and there’s an actual cup on the line. It’s exciting. This is great for the players and the fans. There’s no doubt this is an important game in the community and I really hope that it remains that way.”

Fans are asked to bring an unwrapped toy to the game to benefit Toys for Tots and in exchange they will receive a voucher good for $5.00 off a future Siena home game.



UAlbany 2014-2015 Results:


15 at Providence  L, 60-64

19 NJIT W, 65-48

22 QUINNIPIAC L, 73-76 (OT)

26 at Colgate W, 75-71

29 at UNLV  L, 59-75


3 HOLY CROSS  L, 57-74

6 at Saint Francis (Pa.) L, 69-79

8 at Bucknell L, 58-61

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