Game Preview: Siena At Radford

men's 2014-15 team picture

Siena heads on the road to face Radford Friday night. Tipoff at the Dedmon Center in Richmond, Va. is scheduled for 6 pm. It is the fourth meeting between the two teams with Siena leading the series 3-0. In their most recent matchup two seasons ago (Feb. 24, 2013), the Saints rallied, from 8 points down with less than a minute to go, to force overtime. They went on to win 65-57.

Siena is playing short-handed after a series of blows dealt to the team. Siena announced on Friday morning that RS sophomore Patrick Cole has been suspended from the team. In addition, the Saints will be playing without Lavon Long who is day-to-day with an ankle injury, Brett Bisping who is out at least until Feb. (toe surgery) and Imoh Silas who was lost for the season with a torn ACL.

The game is available to watch (free) online via the Big South Network.

Siena enters the game with a record of 3-5 following back-to-back losses to Rider and UAlbany. They are looking to avoid their third straight loss since such a streak occurred in the 2013 Old Spice Classic.

The Saints are led in scoring by sophomore point guard Marquis Wright who is averaging 13.8 points per game. he leads the MAAC in both assists (5.4) and assist/turnover ratio (2.9).

Senior Poole is the only other Saint averaging in double figures with 13.6 points per game. He is looking to get on track shooting wise as he is averaging just 37% from the field overall and 28% from three-point range.  Last season Poole shot 41% from the field and 36% from three.

When asked what his team needs from him, Poole replied, “Just be a senior. Produce, step up and do what coach asks me and what my teammates need me to do.”

Wright and Poole rank 9th and 10th respectively in scoring in the MAAC.

Already shorthanded in the front court, Siena will be playing without their third leading scorer and leading rebounder Lavon Long, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in practice on Wednesday. Long who is averaging 9.9 points and 5.8 rebounds, is officially listed as day-to-day but will not make the trip to Radford.

Rebounding has been a struggle for the Saints as they have been out rebounded in 6 straight games after winning the battle of the boards in their first two games vs. UMass and Vermont. In contrast, last season they out rebounded their opponents in 24-38 games.

“If we don’t start rebounding it doesn’t matter who we play, we’re not going to win,” said Siena coach Jimmy Patsos. “We have to rebound the ball better. Somebody has to step up. Second shots lead to fouls. Second shots lead to open threes. If nobody steps up then the results will be the same.”

Ryan Oliver will step into the starting role in place of Long. Oliver is averaging 8.9 points per game and has shot 16-32 from beyond the arc.

Radford enters the game with a record of  6-4 following a 92-54 win over  Johnson & Wales – N.C. They finished the 2013-2014 season 22-13 overall, 10-6 in the Big South. They advanced to the second round of the College Basketball Invitational, a tournament won by Siena, by defeating Oregon State.

“They won twenty games last year,” said Patsos. “They beat Oregon State on the road (last season) and they just beat Virginia Tech. They’re picked second in their league.”

A veteran squad, the Highlanders start 3 seniors, a junior and a RS-junior.

Preseason All- Big South First Teamer Javonte Greene, a 6-4 senior forward, is first in both scoring (13.0 points) and  9.0 rebounds (9.0) for Radford.

Siena Director of Basketball Operations, Garrett Kelly served as DOBO and video coordinator for the Highlanders in the two seasons prior to coming to Siena.

Radford 2014-2015 Results:

11/14 at Richmond L 46-64

11/17 at James Madison L 71-74

11/20 Howard  W 61-52

11/23 Catawba  W 88-52

11/26 at TCU  L 50-74

11/28 vs. North Carolina A&T  W 65-57

11/29 at Texas A&M Corpus Christi  W 57-46

12/7 at Virginia Tech  W 68-66

12/13 at Georgetown  L 49-76

12/16 Johnson & Wales – N.C.  W 92-54


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