CBI Finals Game 2 Preview: Saints Return to The ARC In Search Of Championship

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After a thrilling 61-57 come from behind victory on Monday in Fresno California, Siena returns home to face Fresno State in Game 2 of the CBI Championship series on Wednesday night. Tip off at the Alumni Recreation Center is scheduled for 7 pm. With a 1-0 lead in the 3-game series, a win for the Saints (19-17) would secure the CBI Championship, a 20-win season and the programs first winning season in 4 years.

Siena will look to continue their tremendous defensive effort after allowing Fresno State to score just 57 points after they averaged over 70 throughout the season. They have limited opponents to an average of just 53.5 points per game in the first four games of the CBI tournament.

The ARC will be electric in Game 2 as Siena plays its first non-exhibition game on campus in 17 years. For the Saints who normally play their home games in the Times Union Center, a 15,000 seat arena, the opportunity to play in the cozy confines of the ARC is going to be a special night.

“It’s gonna be a crazy environment,” said Brett Bisping. “There’s been a bunch of people waiting in line for tickets for an hour or two. It’s gonna be packed. It’s gonna be loud. That’s gonna work to our advantage I think.”

“I can’t wait to play here,” said Rob Poole. “The students always talk about it. They’ve always asked for a game here. And we’re gonna give it to them. It’s gonna be fun. They get to hang out at the dorms and walk right down. It’s gonna be a fun time.”

“It’s gonna be amazing,” said Ryan Oliver. “It’s gonna be a great atmosphere. The students will be here to support us, right here on campus. It’s gonna be a tough atmosphere which will be good for us.”

“It’s gonna be a tale of two cities,” said Siena coach Jimmy Patsos. “The only thing I don’t like is that I hope people understand around the country that the Times Union Center is a great place to play. With that being said, it’s good for us to play here. It’s great for the fans. A lot of the older players from other eras are all excited that we’re playing here. It’s good for the kids to be on campus. They want to play in front of their friends.”

Patsos and his players, who practice regularly in the on-campus gym, are looking forward to experiencing a real game in the ARC for the first time after hearing about what it was like back in the day when games were played there. Staff, former players and fans have filled them in on what to expect.

“I got “Hammer” (longtime trainer Greg Dashnaw) every day telling me. John Williams (1980-84) and Tom Roginski (1979-83) my friends from Washington played here. (Former Siena Head Coach) John Griffin was talking about how great it was to play here just a week ago. Griff said you should have seen it when…. (athletic dept. secretary) Sybil (Cowan), him and I were out here just talking about it and now we’re gonna play here. It’s pretty wild. We’re just lucky to be playing.”

“It’s gonna be cool to see how it is,” Poole said. “Hopefully it’s packed and you can’t move. It kinda reminds me of back in high school. It’s gonna be good.”

“Everyone uses the word crazy to describe it,” Oliver said. “They tell me it was a crazy experience so I’m just looking forward to it.”

Fresno State will have to overcome what is sure to be a sellout partisan crowd in order to force a deciding Game 3 on Saturday.

In the midst of their 12th postseason tournament appearance (NCAA 1989, 1999, 2002 and 2008-10 and NIT 1988, 1991, 1994, 2000 and 2003), Siena is now an impressive 17-11 all-time in those tournaments.

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