- Jackie Benitez Leaving Siena
- Siena Beats Monmouth: What Happened At Half Time?
- Postgame Comments Following Siena Semifinal Win Over Monmouth
- Siena Marches Into MAAC Semifinal With Win Over Fairfield
- Postgame Comments Following Siena Win Over Fairfield
- MAAC Tourney Preview: #4 Siena vs. #5 Fairfield
- MAAC Tourney Preview: #4 Siena Women vs. #5 Iona
- All MAAC Teams Announced
- Men’s and Women’s MAAC Championship Brackets
- Siena Tops Marist On Senior Day
Ryan Oliver Proving His Worth
- Updated: February 18, 2014
Siena coach Jimmy Patsos knows that in order to compete with the top teams in the MAAC, his team will need to be able to increase their production of offense. He speaks of finding that “one more guy” to step up and fill the role of an added piece as teams make adjustments and key-in on the Saints’ regular contributors. For Patsos, Ryan Oliver can be that guy.
Oliver appeared in 17 games last season, averaging just over 13 minutes while scoring 2.2 points per game before being shut down due to a knee injury that would require surgery. He admits it was a season of adjustment.
“Last year I was just getting my feet wet and making the adjustment to college basketball from high school,” said Oliver. ”This year I’m more confident. I’ve just been working on my game. Making an open shot, playing defense, rebounding, basically giving a spark to the guys who have been playing a lot of minutes.”
A much heralded 3-point shooter, Oliver hoped to return to form once healthy, under the leadership of a new coaching staff. He was confident early on he would prove his worth.
“I didn’t have any doubts. After the Montreal trip I felt that I got a little taste of how he (Patsos) was as a coach. It was different but it was good. I got a little taste before the season. I was able to adjust then,” explained Oliver.
While earning some spot starts earlier this season, Oliver had to prove himself to Patsos who wanted Oliver to see himself as more than just a one dimensional player. With the support and Patsos and staff, he kept fighting for an increased role.
“They were just telling me to, ‘just keep working on your game’,” Oliver said. ”Keep working hard in practice. Just be ready. I just took their advice and kept working hard, coming in extra on my own and was just getting ready for my opportunity.”
Patsos saw that urging come to light in last Sunday’s triple OT game against Canisius when Oliver stepped up in the huddle down the stretch asking to guard the front runner for MAAC Player of the Year, Billy Baron. He defended well against Baron in key possessions down the stretch and also scored 12 points while playing a career-high 44 minutes.
“Ryan’s responding to me because he’s kind of been, ‘I shoot threes and that’s it’. He played good defense on Baron. I’m really proud of Ryan Oliver. He’s got great grades. He’s a good kid,” said Patsos.
After a stretch of games playing limited minutes, Oliver has seen increased court time and has added more layers to his game, removing doubt from Patsos as to his value to the team. He is impressed with the development of the sophomore as a more complete player.
“What do you do as a player when they take away what you do best?,” said Patsos. “When you start doing that secondary thing besides what you do best, especially at our level, that really shows.
“He had a knee injury so he could barely play last year. He’s getting better every day. Ryan Oliver went from, is he going to stay here? Can he ever play for us? To like a solid B player for us, which is at this level is really good.”
“I can score the ball but I just want to be able to help in any way I can,” Oliver said. ”If that’s scoring, defense or rebounding or just passing the ball. We have scorers already. If he wants me to take on that role of being the next scorer, then I’ll take on that role.”
A fairly mild-mannered individual off the court, Oliver understands the passion with which Patsos pushes him to get better. And of late, he has even given a little bit of fire right back to his coach.
“The thing about Coach Patsos is he’s passionate about the game. He’s passionate about winning and he wants the best for us. So that’s good. He brings it out in different ways so when he’s yelling at us he just wants us to keep playing hard, keep being aggressive. I take that as, ‘I hear your message I’m going to’. So I let him know, ‘I hear what you’re saying. I’m going to do it. Just give me a chance’.”
Playing with more confidence, Oliver has improved his 3-point shooting in the second half of the year over 10 percentage points from what he shot the first half of the season. He scored a career-high 15 points in 16 minutes of action on Feb. 7 at St. Peter’s. Proving himself to be on the right track, Oliver will continue to get his chance.
“I am proud of Ryan and I think Ryan’s only going to get better. He’s part of our bright future.”