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Game Preview: Siena vs. Canisius

men's 2014-15 team picture

With just four regular season games remaining, Siena looks to improve their position in the MAAC standings as they take on Canisius Thursday night at the Times Union Center. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. This is the 94th meeting all-time between the two teams with Siena leading the series 51-42.

The meeting with the Golden Griffins earlier this season was one which the Saints would prefer to forget. First the game was delayed for over an hour after a basket collapsed and shattered on a Willem Brandwijk dunk in pregame warmups. Secondly Siena was playing without both Rob Poole and Lavon Long due to injuries and the result was a 83-49 loss for the Saints.

Siena enters the game with a record of 10-15 overall, 7-9 in the MAAC and currently in a tie for 7th place with St. Peter’s. Despite having lost five of their last seven games they are just one game behind Canisius and Quinnipiac who are tied for 5th place at 8-8. They hope for a repeat of last season when the finished 4-0 in their final four regular season games to secure a 5th seed and first round bye in the MAAC Tournament.

“Every game is big down the stretch” said Siena coach Jimmy Patsos. “Four games left, you can maneuver a lot in the standings. Canisius really took it to us last time we played them. I’m looking forward to see how our guys react. We played them really tough all three times last year but we didn’t beat them. The last time we lost by 30 points and that’s never okay. It’s up to the players to handle that.”

The Saints are coming off an 83-64 loss to Monmouth on Saturday. It was their worst loss at the Times Union Center in 30 games.

“We keep doing like one step forward and one step back” said Patsos. “At this stage you’ve got to make a little stand and last year at this time is when we made our stand.”

Rob Poole leads Siena and ranks T-8th in the MAAC averaging 14.7 points per game. He is struggling a bit from distance as of late hitting just 5-21 (24%) from three-point range over the last three games. Poole is 1 of just 5 active players in the country with 500 rebounds, 200 three-pointers, 200 assists and 100 steals. He ranks 11th all-time in scoring at Siena (1,440) behind Ryan Rossiter (10th, 1,457). He is 5th all-time in three-pointers (207) behind Marc Brown (224).

“It’s a big game,” said Poole. “We’re one back from 5th. This isn’t just any other game. We lost by 30 (last game) and it could put us in 5th so it’s probably the biggest game of the year.”

Marquis Wright is 2nd on the team in scoring (13.2 ppg). He has become a more consistent scorer as he has reached in double figures in six straight games for the first time in his career and has scored in double figures in 9 of the last 10 games.Wright is now second in the MAAC in assists (4.8). He is third in  assist/turnover ratio (1.8) and steals (2.0). Just a sophomore, Wright is 14th all-time in assists at Siena  (320) behind Kenny Hasbrouck (13th, 331).

Evan Hymes is one of just 8 players at Siena all-time to have scored 1,200 points and tallied 300 assists. He is just 24 points away from becoming 1 of 5 to have 1,300 point and 200 assists. Hymes is 23rd in scoring at Siena (1,276) behind Corey Osinski (22nd, 1,288). He is 10th in assists (347) behind Kevin McGraw (352) and 11th in three-pointers (175) behind Jeff Robinson (178).

Lavon Long is third on Siena in scoring with 11.3 points per game and is tied for the lead on the team in rebounding with Rob Poole pulling down 4.8 boards per game. Long has been battling the effects from injuries to both feet as of late. He has been held to single digits in scoring in four of the last five games after reaching double figures in 8 straight. Long leads the nation with 4.05 fouls per game and his 21 career disqualifications due to fouls is the most in Siena history.

Long hopes to see a response by the team that matches the importance of this key game against a team that blew them out last time, “Just an anger. An anger that should have been building up since that day. I just feel like everyone’s gonna come out with an intensity like no other because of how that game went.”

Javion Ogunyemi is averaging 9.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game after averaging just 1.9 points and 1.8 rebounds his freshman season. He scored in double figures for the 13th time this season on Saturday. Ogunyemi ranks 3rd in the MAAC in field goal percentage shooting 53.8%.

Freshman Jimmy Paige has begun to emerge for the Saints, averaging 65 points, 4.8 rebounds and shooting 67% from the field over the last six games. He averages just 1.9 points and 1.8 rebounds and shot just 35% over the first 19 games this season.

With just two regular season home games remaining the Saints are looking to reestablish a home court advantage at the Times Union Center, site of this season’s MAAC Tournament. They are just 5-7 there this season.

Canisius enters the game 13-12 overall and 8-8 in the MAAC after defeating Saint Peter’s 69-55 on Sunday ending a four game losing streak.

The Golden Griffins are led by 6-3 sophomore guard, Zach Lewis a averaging 13.7 points per game. Josiah Heath a 6-9 senior forward is averaging 8.6 points and a 6.2 rebounds per game. Heath averaged 17.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 blocks per game last week against Rider and Saint Peter’s and is averaging 12.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in the team’s last five contests.

The Golden Griffins will be playing without 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Phil Valenti the teams second leading scorer (10.6 ppg.) who is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. Valenti led Canisius with 22 points in the first meeting with Siena. Jermaine Crumpton, a 6-6 redshirt-freshman forward is also out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot he suffered on Feb. 8. Crumpton was averaging 8.4 points per game in conference games ranking 2nd in the MAAC amongst freshmen.

Canisius comes into the game at Siena shooting 39.6 percent from the field as a team this season. That ranks ninth in the MAAC and 314th in the nation. In the Griffs’ last two outings, the team is shooting 48.9 percent (45-for-92).

The Griffs are struggling from three-point range shooting just 24.6 percent (32-for-130)  in the last seven games. Opponents are shooting 41.1% from distance at the TUC this season, on pace to be this highest percentage the Saints have ever allowed since moving full-time to the arena in 1997. Last year they allowed opponents to shoot just 30.3 from beyond the arc.

Canisius 2014-2015 Results:

NOVEMBER (2-3)

15 Vermont W, 64-60

18 at Lehigh  W, 63-51

22 at St. Bonaventure  L, 59-53

26 at Cornell  L, 67-60

29 BUFFALO #  L, 72-57

DECEMBER (5-1)

3 at Saint Peter’s *  W, 60-57

6 at Niagara *  W, 77-64

13 at UMass  L, 75-58

18 STONY BROOK  W, 60-59 (OT)

21 HOLY CROSS  W, 67-48

30 UMKC  W, 67-55

JANUARY (5-4)

2 MONMOUTH *  L, 73-68

4 MANHATTAN *  L, 63-60

8 at Marist *  W, 67-52

10 at Iona *  L, 79-76

16 SIENA *  W, 83-49

18 IONA *  W, 78-74

22 at Fairfield *  W, 64-50

24 at Rider *  L, 59-46

30 QUINNIPIAC *  W, 63-57

FEBRUARY (1-4)

1 MARIST *  L, 75-67

6 at Manhattan *  L, 78-69

8 at Monmouth *  L, 44-40

13 RIDER *  L, 60-59

15 SAINT PETER’S *  W, 69-55

 

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