Saints Restoring Pride In Siena Basketball

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As the end of the regular season is fast approaching, the Siena Men’s Basketball team has made great strides in restoring pride once again in the Saints’ program. With a host of newcomers on the roster and a whole new coaching staff, head coach Jimmy Patsos is enjoying the ride as he pulls it all together and continues the process of “climbing the mountain” as he often refers to the plan of returning to the top.

With just two regular season games remaining, the Saints currently sit in 5th place in the MAAC, competing for a first round bye in next week’s MAAC Tournament. Although not a favorite to win it all, they will take their chances in a setting where anything can happen.

“We will be a team to contend with whether it’s a first round, whether we get a bye or not. We will at least show up, give it all we have,” Patsos said.

Although they have played hard all season, perhaps the Saints have turned a corner. At a recent practice following two difficult losses, at Marist in the closing seconds and in triple overtime at home to Canisius, Patsos spoke at length to his team about not just playing hard, but playing with emotion. Play like they really care, like it really matters, because it does matter, to so many that follow and support the program. They responded with an upset win over Manhattan and a crucial road win at Rider.

“I’ll tell you one thing and this is sincere, our group roots for each other,” Patsos explains. “We’re a very united group. They just want to win. That’s rare. We might be 13 and 16 but we’ve got a bunch of good people that all about each other. I don’t care how much you know. I wanna know how much you care. And our group cares.”

Despite being picked 10th in the MAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, Patsos believed they were capable of much more, and wanted his team to feel the same way.

“I want them to believe in the Siena basketball program,” says Patsos. “We’re here to restore the pride that’s always been in this program and I think we’re heading that way. The players get the credit for believing in themselves and believing that competing IS success.”

One thing is for sure, the Saints have been competitive all season. They have held the lead in the final minute of nine of their last ten games, winning six. They have been within one possession in the final minute of regulation in their last five games and seven of the last right. Ten of their 29 games have been decided by 5 points or less and they have twice gone to overtime. Despite a challenging schedule, they have lost by more than 15 points just twice, once against a nationally ranked team, Memphis and once versus Manhattan who they beat the second time around.

“Wooden said you should judge how you play and not what the score was. That was easy for him to say ‘cause the score was always UCLA, more than the team they played,” jokes Patsos. “But, I really do believe our success this year is based on, are we competing or not and we’ve competed since Montreal. We competed in the Old Spice. We’ve competed. That’s what I’ve asked our team to do.”

No matter the tournament seed, Patsos likes where his team stands heading into the final stretch.

“Here’s the thing I’ll judge us by,” Patsos states. “Would you wanna face us in the tournament? I think we’ve earned respect. We’re gonna be an opponent you don’t want to play. For me that’s a compliment. Here at Siena with the basketball tradition we have, we’ve always been known as a tough out and I’m happy that that’s gonna be restored. I think it’s restored now in terms of you’re playing Siena, you better be ready. That’s all I want as a coach.”

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