Ryan Oliver Returns To Home State For CBI Final

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For most of the Siena Basketball team, Fresno State is thousands of miles from home. But, for sophomore Ryan Oliver Game 1 of the CBI Finals will be a bit of a homecoming. Oliver who hails from Ingelwood, about 3.5 hours south of Fresno, is looking forward to having the opportunity to play so much closer to home. He is the first Siena player from the state of California.

“I’m excited for it,” said Oliver. “My family’s coming down. It will be the first time for them to see me in person this year so I’m excited for that. I actually grew up in Fresno the first two years of my life so it will be good to go back.”

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. But, through hard work, determination and much needed support he has proven to be a key contributor down the stretch for the Saints.

“Last year the season ended short for me so it was kinda tough,” explains Oliver. “This year I came in with a good mindset. I had my family to support me and have my back and keep encouraging me. Then, the coaching staff has been doing a great job too. I’ve just been working hard on my game and getting extra work in the gym late at night.”

Oliver, who was recently honored with Siena’s Jim Sullivan Most Improved Player Award, has become a key ingredient for Siena down the stretch. He has hit several key shots and has made at least one three-pointer in 11 of the last 12 games. Last time out he scored 11 points with 3 assists and 2 rebounds vs. Illinois State and he is averaging 25 minutes per game in the CBI.

“It’s definitely encouraging. The saying is true. Hard work pays off,” Oliver said. “I’m just glad to give my team what I can. We have a great team. We’re deep and any game anybody could go off. I’m just glad to have the opportunity.”

“Ryan figured out that we weren’t gonna come to him,” said Siena coach Jimmy Patsos. “He was gonna have to come to us. What he’s done off the bench has been crazy. That guy’s been playing so good for us.”

“They’re a good team, said Oliver of Fresno State. ”They have a lot of good players. Cezar Guerrero, their point guard I played against growing up in LA. I’m familiar with a couple of their players. They’re tough.”

Siena opens the best-of-three CBI Finals series Monday night at Fresno State. Tipoff is at 10pm for the game to be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.

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