Game Preview: Siena Hosts Penn State In CBI Quarterfinal



Siena continues play in the College Basketball Invitational Monday night as they play host to Penn State of the Big Ten Conference in the Quarterfinal round. Tip off at the Times Union Center is scheduled for 7 pm in a game to be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network. Scott Graham and former Siena head coach John Griffin will be on the call.

Siena coach Jimmy Patsos is excited to have the opportunity to host a BCS team in postseason play.

“It’s impressive,” said Patsos. “That’s a BCS, Big Ten school. They beat Ohio State twice. That’s a team with resources. They’ve done well. The questions is, do we want to keep playing and do our fans want to see a Big Ten basketball team? For us, I like it cause we haven’t beaten a BCS school.”

Both teams enter the matchup with a record of 16-17 following CBI opening round wins. Siena defeated Stony Brook 66-55 on Tuesday to advance while Penn State moved on following a 69-65 win over Hampton on Wednesday night. It will be just the second time the two teams have met with the first meeting coming in the 2000 National Invitational Tournament when the Nittany Lions came out on top, 105-103.

“This is tournament play,” said Penn State coach Pat Chambers. “We’re going to Siena. I’ve seen it on TV. It’s gonna be nuts. It’s gonna be crazy. That’s what I envision. We’re a Big Ten team going in there. Jimmy’s gonna have them ready to go. It’s gonna be a great challenge.”

With the win on Tuesday, Siena (16-17) doubled last season’s win total while earning their 14th national postseason tournament win. The Saints are 11-4 at home so far this season averaging 6,325 fans per game. Penn State averaged 6,257 fans per home game.

Siena is led by junior Rob Poole who is averaging 14.8 points per game. Sophomore Brett Bisping has emerged throughout this season and has led the Saints over the last 11 games averaging 14.3 points and 7.6 rebounds. He averaged just 3.2 points and 2.6 rebounds as a freshman.

Freshman point guard Marquis Wright leads the MAAC in assists (5.5, 29th nationally) and ranks second in steals (1.7). His 182 assists ties for the sixth most in a single season at Siena. He is the first freshman to lead the MAAC in assists in at least 20 years. He is third in the country for all freshmen behind Kahlil Felder of Oakland (6.4) and Tyler Ennis of Syracuse (5.6).

Lavon Long is third on the team in scoring with 9.4 points per game and has scored in double figures in 17 games. He along with Wright were named to the All-MAAC Rookie Team.

Junior Evan Hymes has been the spark off the bench all season for the Saints averaging 9.2 points per game. He is averaging a team best 17.7 points per 40 minutes and has scored 15 or more points eight times this season. Hymes has committed 60 fewer turnovers than last season.

With an enrollment of 3,000 Siena is the second smallest school still playing Division I Basketball (VMI enrollment 1,600 in CIT). Penn State has an enrollment of 43,831.

The Saints have averaged 69.8 points per game after averaging a Division I low 60.0 points last season. They have scored 70 or more in 13 games after doing so just four times in 32 games a season ago.

Penn State enters the game with an overall record of 16-17, finishing 6-12 in the Big Ten. They boast two wins over Ohio State and one each over Nebraska and Mount St. Mary’s, all NCAA Tournament teams as well as victories over St. John’s, Indiana, Purdue and LaSalle.

The Nittany Lions are led in scoring by 6-4 RS Jr. guard D.J. Newbill who averages 17.8 points (2nd in Big Ten) and 6-1 GS guard Tim Frazier who is second on the team in scoring with 15.4 points per game while averaging a Big Ten best 5.4 assists.

“Their leadership number one makes them special,” said Chambers of his talented backcourt. “Their pride in our program makes them special. They can score in a variety of ways. Tim broke the assists record this year. TJ Newbill’s been a really efficient scorer and they defend and rebound and do other things. They don’t just score the basketball. They’re really complete players that have done a great job of playing with one another this year.”

Newbill and Frazier were picked to the All-Big Ten second and third teams respectively.

“Frazier and Newbill are as good as anybody out there,” said Patsos. “That’s as good a one-two punch in guards as we’ve seen.”

The Nittany Lions finished the regular season first in the Big Ten in two-point percentage defense (45.1) in conference action after holding eight B1G opponents to shooting percentages at or below 40%.

Penn State Pat Chambers explains that controlling the pace is key for the Nittany Lions.

“We never know if we’re gonna get that third scorer, said Chambers. “I know we can get stops. So, we’re always gonna give ourselves a chance if we can be in the 60’s. I know that for sure, as long as we’re defending and rebounding.”

“I’ve always said we have to score 70 points to win, Patsos said. “That means it’s gonna be a nip and tuck game.”

Following the CBI Quarterfinal round, the winners of the four matchups (Penn State at Siena, Radford at Old Dominion, Texas A&M at Illinois State and Princeton at Fresno State), will be re-bracketed for the semifinal round.

“The MAAC’s representing,” Patsos said. “I thought what Manhattan did was great. I thought they really handled Louisville well (NCAA). Canisius had a tough loss at VMI (CIT). Buzzer beater, Yale beats Quinnipiac (CIT). Offensive rebound, Iona loses (NIT). Now we’re representing. We’re the last (MAAC) team playing.”


  1. Smith

    March 23, 2014 at 10:02 am

    No offense, but you have an obsolete Big Ten logo and you have a Penn State logo from a separate campus.

    • 4guysadmin

      March 23, 2014 at 10:53 am

      Thanks for the catch. It\’s been removed. We can update to the correct logos later today. Presently on the road to Albany from Buffalo.

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