Meet The Freshmen Class

The clock struck “5”. The whistle sounded, and the 2011-2012 season had officially begun. It signified the beginning on the first official practice of the year. It also started the basketball career of 6 members of the freshman class who we have dubbed the “Saintly Six”. For the next few hours they would be led through a well choreographed and productive practice. They stretched, they ran, they shot, they learned and they worked. They were led by head coach Mitch Buonaguro. They were motivated and corrected by assistant coach Craig Carter. They were instructed by new assistant coaches Tobin Anderson Ben Davis and Tyler Simms. And they were pushed and driven by the example of their upper classmen team mates. They know the history, they know the tradition and they know the expectations. As they met at center court they were given their first mission, “Get Better Everyday”.

Shorty before practice, we talked with the newest Siena Saints. Here is what we learned.

 Davonte Beard 6-2 guard, Akron Ohio/ St. Vincent-St Mary

Why Siena?“The number one thing is it’s more of a brotherhood here.  Everyone works together.  Every one works hard. I knew that they had a very good basketball program. They made it to the tournament a couple years before I came.  It’s a good tough conference. Hopefully it’s gonna be a fun year.”

Adjustment to college“It’s pretty difficult.  I wasn’t really used to doing all that running. The lifting was kind of equal to my high school, but the running, I’ve never done anything like that before in my life. I was exhausted after the first day. I didn’t even really want to get up and move. I just wanted to stay in the middle of the court and just sit there.”

So far, the freshmen have established a good relationship with the upperclassman.“They push us a lot. They make sure we do what we’re supposed to on the court and also in the classroom as well. They push us a lot and show a lot of leadership”.

What will excite fans about his game? “I like to shoot the ball. I like to drive to the hole, kick it out to my teammates to make plays for them….my shooting ability from 3 will probably excite them.”

Expectations“Of course I wanna win a MAAC championship. I want us to win a lot of games. Hopefully we get better as individuals and better as people along the way”.

On Coach B’s high expectations for him, “It’s exciting to hear a lot of that stuff that about me but I’m just here to work hard and do what ever the coach needs me to do”.

Free time“I like to stay in the gym, make sure I’m working on my game, and make sure I don’t have any disappointments”.

Favorite place to eat“I’m kind of a fast food guy. I hit McDonalds and Wendy’ up a lot.  We also have a Denny’s right on Wolf Road I like to go to”.

Game circled on the calendar“Every game, I’m excited about every game and hopefully we can get the job done”.

Has he grown tired of answering questions about Lebron James, having gone to the same high school? “I’ve been at his high school for four year and everyone’s always asking me, ‘How’s Lebron?’ I get tired of it after awhile but it’s always gonna be there.  I’m used to it by now and hopefully I’ll make a name for myself one day and won’t have to answer that question anymore”.

We suggested that maybe one day they will be asking Lebron what it was like to go to the same high school as Davonte, he smiled and replied, “Exactly”.


Marcus Hopper 6-8 forward, Queens, NY/ Holy Cross High School

Why Siena?“What made me choose Siena was that they went to the NCAA’s 3 years in a row and  when I went  on the visit it felt right. Everybody was like a family to me so I just had to go there,  plus green and gold were my high school colors too”.

Adjustment to college“It’s been 10 times harder.  The weight room and running in high school was like this a little bit.  My head coach in high school and Coach B are like the same way but it’s 10 time harder”.

What will excite fans about his game?“I’m like a forward, big man, but I can shoot 3’s like nobody expects”.

Game circled on the calendar“Georgia Tech, plus I have friends on every team in the MAAC. I’ve either played with them or against them so that’s my favorite part”.

Free time“Free time? I like to take naps…. I do get tired from school, basketball, and study hall so sometimes you got to get a nap in”.

Favorite place to eat Ted’s fish fry

Expectations on the team“To get better and better everyday because we have a young team and we have to focus more on defense”.

Imoh Silas 6-8 Center Lagos, Nigeria/Holderness School

Why Siena “My main goal during my recruiting process, I always wanted to go to a school that had a good educational reputation and Siena had what I wanted. They have a good basketball program and a good history. To be honest I think I heard about Siena last year.  Adam Chaskin, who was here before, told me to look at it and come take a visit, see what it’s like. I really did my research and I really liked it and I was like wow! I never knew there was a school called Siena it’s actually good!  I did my research, and learned a lot about the program’s educational side and also basketball side”.

Your game“I’m a defensive player. My offense is coming along so I’m trying to get better offensively but I take pride in my defense”.

Adjustment to college“It’s been way different. I never thought I was gonna do a lot of this stuff.  The conditioning was ridiculous but it’s been fun.  After you do something like that you feel great about yourself, like you’ve done something, you worked hard, so I really like it”.

Free time“I like watching TV and also I play drums”.

Transition“It’s been wonderful. New Hampshire was more of more of a quiet place but I still adjust to it. From Africa it’s way different, especially the cold. I’m not a cold person. I like winter ‘cause I play basketball but I’m not a cold person.  I don’t like  snow  … I like watching it but not being it and I don’t shovel”.

Goals“Get better as a player, work on defense, good at rotation, and be able to run the floor a lot to just to be able to become a good player. I’m in a good place. That’s what I’m happy about….”

When asked about the questions surrounding his first year of eligibility Imoh responded, “whatever happens you are getting a good education and that’s my main priority. So, whatever decision they come up with,(NCAA)I’m fine with it. I’m on a good team and I get to practice and get better.”

Favorite place to eat “I don’t go out a lot …the school wrap shop is actually good”.

Lionel Gomis 6-8 forward Dakar, Senegal/Blair Academy

Why Siena? He said he liked Coach B a lot when he was recruited.  When he came to visit he really liked the players and felt like he could fit in well. He saw some games and saw the program as a good fit. He began playing basketball in 2005, the year his mother died. He saw basketball as a way to get a good education and attended the Seeds Academy in Senegal. From there he went to Blair Academy in NJ.

Adjustment to collegeInitially things were a bit rough when the NCAA ruled that he would only have one year of eligibility, but after an initial appeal he was granted an additional two years. Although the most recent appeal for a fourth year was unsuccessful he remains positive. He said he really likes the area so far and that there is so much to do here as compared to Senegal and even compared to around Blair Academy where he went to high school. He has found his favorite pizza joint, Paesan’s and said pizza is something he would eat every day if he could.

His game“My game is not where it needs to be but I keep working at it. I play good defense and I am a good rebounder. I’m working on offense, posting up, kicking it back out, and squaring up”.

ExpectationsHe said that with the addition of the 6 freshmen that hopefully they will “get Siena where it needs to be”. He is looking forward to that first win and to get more wins because more wins means more fans.

Favorite food Paesan’s pizza …. “I would eat pizza everyday if I could”.

 Rob Poole 6-5 guard Haddonfield, N.J./Paul IV

Why Siena?“It is gorgeous here honestly   ever since I was a young kid I always wanted to live in upstate NY.  I’d always go on vacation in Lake Placid, always wanted to come to school up here and when Siena offered I was like why not.”
Rob went on to elaborate on when he first learned of Siena.

“I had friends over to watch the  Ohio state game and I had no idea who Siena was …and I told them if I could play at a school like that that could beat Ohio St., I would have no  problem. I came to watch the Mount St. Mary’s game and that place was packed. It was pretty cool to see such a small school. You’re not used to having a huge fan base like that”.

Adjustment to college“Oh god it’s tough. We never really did conditioning in high school that much.  We just ran a couple sprints and suicides.  Here, you’re running, and got to make times. If you don’t make times you got to do them again and you wanna throw up when you’re done”.

Fans look forward to“I can shoot the ball a little bit. I like to hustle I like to dive on the floor for basketballs. I wear wacky clothes I guess I wear long high socks I wear a sleeve underneath let my hair grow out a little bit. I like Kyle Korver I’m not as good a shooter as he is but that’s kind of the way I play.”

Game circled on the calendar “Probably the Iona game at Madison Square Garden.  I never played in a big arena my entire life …where I come from basketball is not that big, in south Jersey.  I never played in front of more than 400 fans”.

Dog pound, hoping to see it packed “I never really played in front of a student section so I don’t really know how it feels so hopefully they will come out and support us”.

Seniors “They are great guys there all hilarious I cant stop laughing when I’m around them they just  keep me laughing all the time”.

Free time “I like to take walks I like to walk around the campus its pretty around here so take a nice walk and go juggle”.

 Favorite food “Probably the subs shop because the cafeteria food, I can’t eat that too many times in a day”.

Evan Hymes 5-8 guard Durham, N.C./Kestrel Heights Charter

Why Siena?“I just felt I had best opportunity here; to graduate in four years and the basketball program is great. I saw Siena on TV when they played Ohio St. and a couple times after that”.
What sealed the deal? “It would have to be the Times Union Center.  It was great. It was huge. They said the fan support here is great and they love the basketball program”.

Adjustment to college “Since I’m fast already the game is what’s a bit different it’s a little bit faster. Conditioning wise you have to be in a lot better shape than high school. Coach B expressed to us to push the ball a lot and run so the conditioning is the main part that is a bit different.  I had to come in and work hard. It’s culture shock so I decided to come in with a mindset to get better everyday”.

Relationship with upperclassmen “It’s good.  Downey is leading us.  The seniors are making sure we’re on time and keeping the tradition of good basketball at Siena”.

Expectations“I push the ball, pressure the ball on defense.  I’m just here to learn from Rahk ‘cause he had a great season last year and him being an upper classman, I’ll just learn from him”.

Game circled on the calendar “It would have to be Iona at Madison Square Garden”.

Free time “I like to chill around and watch TV.

Favorite place to eat McDonald’s


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