Game Preview: Siena at Iona

men's 2014-15 team picture

Update late Friday afternoon: According to a released statement from Iona, A.J. English will serve a one game suspension for his involvement in an altercation vs  St  Peter’s. As a result he will not play in Friday’s game against Siena.

Siena heads to New Rochelle on Friday night to take on first place Iona. Tip off is scheduled for 7 pm for a game to be broadcast on ESPNU. This is the 104th meeting between the two teams with Iona leading the series 56-47.

In the first matchup this season in early January,  Iona out-scored the Saints 29-14 down the stretch on its way to an 86-72 victory at Times Union Center. Each team placed four players in double figures. Rob Poole led Siena with 21 points. Lavon Long finished with 16, Marquis Wright and Javion Ogunyemi added 11. David Laury led the Gaels  with his double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds. AJ English added 17 points and Isaiah Williams and Schadrac Casimir each had 14.

Siena enters the game with a record of 9-12 overall and 6-6 in the MAAC following a 79-72 win over Rider on Monday night.

Rob Poole leads the Saints averaging 15.3  points per game (7th in MAAC). He is coming off a season-high 27 points in the win over Rider. He’s averaged 17.8 points and made 50% (23-46) of his three-point tries in 2015. Poole is 2nd in the MAAC in FT percentage at 83.7%.  He is 14th in scoring all time at Siena (1,393) behind Doug Poetzsch (1,398) at 13th and Fred Shear (1,400) at 12th. Poole is 5th all time in three pointers (199) behind Marc Brown (224).

The Saints had just five turnovers against the Broncs, tying a season-low. The Saints had at least 15 turnovers in seven of their previous eight games.

Marquis Wright is second on the team in scoring (12.9 ppg.)in the MAAC in assists (5.0) and assist/turnover ratio (2.0). He now ranks 14th all time in assists at Siena (303 in 58 games) behind Kenny Hasbrouck (331 in 129 games).

Siena ranks third nationally with 18.7 free throws made per game. There have been an average of 54 free throws attempted in Siena games this season, the most in Division I.

Jimmy Paige has averaged nine points, 22.5 minutes and shot 78% from the field the last two games. Paige averaged 1.9 points, 8.5 minutes and shot 35% from the field in the first 19 games.

Opponents have made 39.3% of their three-pointers against the Saints this season, the highest percentage allowed in the MAAC and the 14th highest in Division I. MAAC teams are shooting 41% from distance against Siena.

Lavon Long is third for the Saints in scoring averaging 11.8 points and leads the team in rebounds with 5.1 rpg. He has reached double figures in eight of the nine games he’s played this calendar year. Long is averaging 13.6 points while shooting 57% from the field and 63% (5-8) from three-point range in 2015. He scored a career-high 20 points at Manhattan last Friday.

Note: Coaches will be wearing blue puzzle pieces as part of the Coaches Powering Forward for Autism initiative taking place nationally this weekend. It is tied in with the Autism Speaks foundation an organization committed to raising awareness that is  important to Siena coach Jimmy Patsos whose nephew is autistic.

Iona enters the game with a record of 16-6 overall and 9-2 in the MAAC good for 1st place. They are a perfect 9-0 this season at home. The Gaels are coming off a 68-61 overtime win against St. Peter’s on Saturday. A heated postgame incident took place following the game and although no punches were thrown, Iona’s second leading scorer, A.J. English was shown to have pushed aside an official attempting to break up the dispute. As of early Friday morning, still no word has come down regarding any punishment for any of the players involved.

The Gaels are led by 6-9 senior forward Laury who averages 21.0 points (7th nationally) and 9.3 rebounds (2nd in MAAC) per game. English, a 6-4 junior guard averages 20.7 points (9th nationaly) and Casimir, a 5-10 freshman guard, averages 13.8. Iona is playing without Isaiah Williams (14.2 ppg.) who has missed the last 5 games due to a foot injury.

 Iona boasts four of the top 11 scorers in the MAAC with Laury (1st), English (2nd), Williams (9th) and Casimir (11th).

As a team the Gaels rank fourth nationally in scoring (82.3 ppg), fourth in three-point field goals made (10.2/g) and ninth in 3FG percentage (41.1%).

Game preview comments:

Siena coach Jimmy Patsos

“Normally I’d say score with them but we may change a little bit with the different lineups that we’re gonna have in there. You learn. St Peter’s was really patient with them and they don’t want to play patient. They want to score a lot of points. Cluess is an excellent coach. They really play fast. That’s how it’s gonna be.”

“We have 8 games left. We’re here. We have 8 games in a month and then we’re back in Albany. So, it’s time to start doing a lot of the little things.”

“We showed a lot of patience against Rider. We want to build on that. It’s a new week and a new game. With the Siena Saints this year, you never really know what to expect so I’m ready for everything.”

Rob Poole

“That’s what they’re good at. They’re studs. They’re all-stars. Those guys are scorers. If you can score back on them it really helps.”

“I think they’re one of the best shooting teams probably in the country. They made 11 threes versus us the last game. That’s a lot of points. If we can get them to make 6 or 7 or I don’t know 8, I mean we have a chance to win. They’re gonna make threes so we just have to keep playing defense and just know they’re gonna make them and try to limit them.”

Lavon Long

“I think it’s more don’t be afraid for them to drive. It’s okay if they drive.  A lot of people play the three point line scared ‘cause they don’t want to come up too strong. But, maybe come up a little stronger and have faith in your help.”

Iona 2014-2015 Results:

11/14/14 CLEVELAND STATE  W, 78-73

11/18/14 at Wofford  L, 73-86

The Roundball Showcase – Campus Sites

11/21/14 at Wake Forest  W, 85-81

11/23/14 at North Texas W, 78-58

11/26/14 DELAWARE STATE  W, 126-76

11/30/14 at No. 25 Arkansas  L, 77-94

12/7/14 at Monmouth*  L, 89-92

12/10/14 RIDER*  W, 74-67

12/13/14 INDIANA STATE  W, 91-84

12/20/14 at George Mason  L, 81-86

12/23/14 FLORIDA GULF COAST  W, 86-67

12/28/14 at Drexel W, 81-62

12/30/14 at Massachusetts  L, 82-87

1/4/15 at Siena* W, 86-72

1/6/15 QUINNIPIAC*  W, 81-73

1/10/15 CANISIUS*  W, 79-76

1/13/15 FAIRFIELD*  W, 74-58

1/16/15 at Niagara*  W, 80-79

1/18/15 at Canisius*  L, 74-78

1/22/15 at Rider*  W, 78-6

1/25/15 vs. Niagara*  W, 87-64

1/31/15 SAINT PETER’S*  W, 68-61 OT


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