Long and Ogunyemi Looking To Help Siena Finish Strong

lavon long

As the regular season winds down for Siena, the team is looking for ways to end, what has been a disappointing season, on a high note. Sophomores Lavon Long and Javion Ogunyemi see these next two games as an opportunity to do just that as the Saints head into the MAAC Tournament which begins next week at the Times Union Center.

“Get your record up and good games, good practice games,” said Long of Friday’s game at Quinnipiac and Sunday’s game at Monmouth. “A good way to see how we’re gonna hold up in the playoffs.”

“We can’t finish second like everybody thought we would at the beginning of the year and we can’t finish fifth,” said Ogunyemi. “But, we can still finish 6th with 2 wins and a couple losses from other people around the league. So, I guess our mindset right now is to try to win these next 2 games and try to finish the best we can.”

As the team’s third leading scorer (10.9 ppg.) and leading rebounder (5.0 rpg.), Long is an important piece for the Saints and his presence on the court is key. It is no secret that fouling has been an issue for Long as his 4.09 fouls per game is leading the nation. He admits it is something he is aware of, but continues to work on.

“I definitely think about it,” said Long. “It’s just more so what I’m trying to guard for at the time. If they’re hitting shots, I’m gonna have to play up but at the same time if they’re good at driving I’m gonna have to play back. It’s just a balancing act of which I’m going to do at the time.”

As a sophomore, Long is still learning and while this season has not been what he and his team had wished for record wise, there is still a lot to play for and improve on the rest of the way.

“I learned that one, you have to put halves together and two, no matter how hard you play there’s certain things out of your control,” said Long. “You just have to play through it, put your head down and grind.”

After a patch of a few games where he had been held to single digits, Long came out with an inspired game on Saturday against Manhattan scoring 12 points and pulling down 10 rebounds with 3 assists. It was just the third double-double by a Saint this season. Perhaps most importantly, he played with great energy, something the coaches look for from Long.

“They tell me all the time I need to be active and aggressive in order for my team to act accordingly, be like a role model,” Long said. “So, I feel like it’s my job to do just that.”

In addition to playing hard, Long focused on making the game fun again and credits that to his improved play.

“I just came out and had fun. Just working hard doesn’t seem to fit me so I thought being a clown would help. Doing little extra stuff, taking to people on the line saying, ‘I’ll give you a lollipop if you miss.’ Stuff like that, it actually worked once.”

Ogunyemi has been Siena’s most improved player and has averaged a team best 13.2 points while shooting 72% from the field over the last 5 games. He scored a career-high 18 points while shooting 8-9 from the field on Saturday.

“I think we’ve been playing hard lately these last couple games,” Ogunyemi said. “We’ve just been coming up short. I think the effort is there and everybody’s will is still there to try to win.”

Despite the team’s record, Ogunyemi  knows that anything can happen come tournament time.

“Sometimes the most dangerous teams going into the playoffs are sometimes not the best teams,” said Ogunyemi. “They’re the teams who finally come together and get wins. That’s all it takes really.”

With Long and Ogunyemi playing well, the Saints always seem to have a fighting chance.


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