Expectations for the 2011-12 Saints

There is not a lot of optimism amongst the fan base surrounding this year’s team. To take a look at messageboards and to listen to the conversations among fans, a person would think that Siena has not won in 15 years and the sky is falling. This is not to say that I do not share some of this same pessimism, on the contrary, I too share my doubts about the outcome of this season in the wins and loss column. Ultimately, I, like most Siena fans, expect a team that will compete for a MAAC title year in and year out. At the same time, a look at history will show that all teams, even great high major programs, have down years in which retooling is necessary. Not every era seamlessly passes to the next. Even mighty programs like Syracuse (02, 07, 08), North Carolina (02,03,10), and Kentucky (09) miss the tournament every now and then, as evidenced in the last decade, and need to retool.

This season for the Saints needs to be just that, a retooling. A prolonged dwelling in the middle of the MAAC is unacceptable for the Saints. With the winning tradition, budget, and facilities that Siena possesses, there is no reason to accept being out done by the Iona’s of the world on a consistent basis, it cannot be tolerated.

Didn’t Coach Buonaguro say we weren’t rebuilding? Yes, he did, and i agree with that statement. Rebuilding implies a focus squarely on a future that could be seasons away. It requires a tear down to the foundation and a prolonged effort in reconstructing a team in a brand new image and tradition. Siena is not rebuilding. If it were you would see a starting 5 consisting of many more freshmen than the one you are likely to see on opening night (Evan Hymes due to injury). You would see more wholesale changes. Siena does not need to reconstruct its image, it just needs a short period to usher in the next great era of Siena basketball.

Next year, Siena must return to prominence, and I believe it will. Looking at the roster the Saints will have next season gives me every reason to believe that the they will be serious contenders. A healthy Brookins, seasoned Beard, eligible Silas, a hungry Anosike, amongst others will combine to give the Saints the season we all expect, but that’s next season, and it feels a lifetime away right now.

This year is one snake-bitten with injury and bad luck before we even started the season. Davis Martens out for the year. Imoh Silas and Lionel Gomis ruled ineligible. Rakeem Brookins and Trenity Burdine out with injuries. Five of thirteen scholarship athletes on the sidelines leaving only eight, four of whom are freshmen, to carry on. That information is daunting and worthy of pessimism, but I still think that these Saints will surprise the faithful. No, we likely will not win 20 games, and no we likely will not be MAAC Champions, but i think these Saints will give us a reason to cheer and be optimistic for this future.

I truly believe this team could surpass last season’s win total if the Saints can get Burdine and Brookins back on the court before they get into the meat of conference play. That is a big if though right now, and without them we are likely looking at a 10-12 win season, but I’m ready to be surprised. Make no mistake, this team has talent, the question is how quickly can the freshmen adjust and learn the college game. Ultimately, the experience they earn due to being forced into major playing time, can and likely will pay large dividends at the end of the season and beyond.

This team is not lacking experience either. OD Anosike, Kyle Downey, and Owen Wignot have all been through the grind of a season before and know what it takes to get back to the top of the mountain. From everything i have seen and heard in speaking directly with them and in other media reports, they are hungry to win and eager to prove the critics wrong. There is no lack of effort to win on the part of this team, no lack of desire.

This season will be a trial for the team and the fans. I look forward to watching this team develop and grow, this is how success needs to be measured this season. I want and hope for wins. I want to be surprised. I have faith in this year’s team, they will give us all a reason to cheer, and who knows, maybe the Saints can shock the MAAC again like they did 2002. I’m willing to believe.

One Comment

  1. Anonymous

    November 8, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Siena will be fine. I expect each player to play hard on every offensive and defensive possession. There is nothing else as a fan that you can ask for. As the great coach Pete Newell once said; to win basketball games 2 things must happen – 1) you must take better shots than your opponent (and that speaks to your offense) and 2) you must take more shots than your opponents (and that speaks to your defense). This is a very young group that is just going to improve each and every game. They will get battered and bruised at times, but that is part of the deal. All programs struggle from time to time. Fans, as well as the players, must take any negative and work to turn it to a positive. Can't wait for the 16th!

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