4GuysinBlazers

Saints Continue Their Climb In Preseason

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With exactly one month to go before the season-opener at UMass, the Siena Men’ Basketball Team is hard at work preparing for the 2014-2015 season. Coming off a 20-win season and a CBI Championship, energy has been restored to the program and heightened optimism has spread throughout the fan base.

With just over four weeks of preseason practices remaining, here are some early observations of this year’s team.

The newcomers:

Pat Cole’s size and ability to create his own shot add another weapon to the Saint’s arsenal. He is a natural leader and while Patsos explains he has work to do, he is sure to be a key contributor off the bench as the season gets underway. Cole has very good court vision and his passing is a strength. Able to play multiple positions he will help in more ways than one.

Freshman Willem Brandwijk is a big body who adds much more than great size to the roster. More than capable of shooting from deep, at 6-8, 229, Brandwijk is also more mobile and agile than one might expect. Able to drive the lane from the perimeter and kick to the open man he has also shown in practice the knack for attacking the rim aggressively. A hard worker with some nice fundamentals, all indications are he will be a good one.

Freshman Jimmy Paige is both aggressive and versatile while displaying the junk yard dog mentality as advertised. While he was still finding his way early on in the summer session, Paige has been emerging as of late in practice. He is catching the attention of Patsos who describes Paige as “game-ready” while comparing him to former North Carolina standout and NBA player, Jerry Stackhouse.

Cam Gottfried is a freshman walk-on with an ability to hit the outside jumper. Breaking into the regular rotation this season will be a challenge as the guard depth of the Saints’ roster is a significant obstacle, but Gottfried is a basketball player who understands the game.

The Returners:

Look for Rob Poole, Brett Bisping, Marquis Wright and Lavon Long to return as starters this season. Poole will continue to be a focal point offensively and Bisping will continue his emergence from last season. After somewhat defying the odds at the MAAC level in emerging as such major contributors as freshmen, Wright and Long are already showing signs of not being complacent. Having been handed the keys to the offense from Day 1, Wright shows what seems to be an increased confidence and more vocal leadership style. Long continues to transform his development physically which will only make him more of a matchup concern for the opposition.

Patsos has said early on that sophomore  Javion Ogunyemi is likely to occupy the fifth starting position. A starter last season before suffering an ankle injury, JO has trimmed down and is really running the floor better than ever. Imoh Silas is not conceding the center position and is responding to the staff’s encouragement of him to attack the rim more aggressively on offense in hopes of increasing his production.

Maurice White may be the most improved player on the roster. In both the intrasquad scrimmage and in practice White shows an improved jumper especially from mid range as well as from three. He seems to be more comfortable on the floor and has a better understanding of Patsos’ style and system.

Evan Hymes and Ryan Oliver have to be part of the rotation. Both provide experience and leadership and can score the basketball. They were both key contributors off the bench last season and will continue to do so.

Michael Wolfe continues to amaze in practice with his ability to run the floor and soar high above the rim with a variety of dunks. He continues to develop a feel for the game and an understanding of the system and once it all clicks for him, his upside is scary.

Jimmy Merrill and Mike Wilson return as walk-ons and when called on in practice, they receive a level of encouragement and criticism equal to that of the regulars and always seem to respond well.

 

Perhaps the biggest strength to this year’s team, its depth, will present the biggest challenge. With all of last season’s contributors back and some solid additions, figuring out a playing rotation will not be easy for Patsos and his staff. Having too much depth is said to be a good problem to have and it certainly has created healthy competition in preseason practices. Utilizing all of those weapons effectively will be a key to this season.

 

 

 

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