Words With Mitch


Here are the notes and quotes from this season’s final weekly media luncheon with Siena Head Coach Mitch Buonaguro.

Impressions of Loyola

“I think Loyola is really hitting their stride now They’ve got their point guard back now, Williams and he’s settled in. Olsen, Etherly and Cormier are playing as well as anyone in the league. I’d probably say right now they’ve got to be the favorite to win it.”

The lineup in the 2nd half vs Loyola

“I thought they played well, alot of positives. Imoh now has had three or four good games in a row, right around 10 points. I think that’s a real plus. I think that’s what we need to get out of him, 10 points 5 or 6 rebounds. That will really help the team. Rich made three shots in the second half, 8 points and Davis Martens had 9 points. The plus out of the game was the fact that we could get bench production which we haven’t been getting. The negative is if you’re relying on playing against experience with a lot of inexperienced players”‘

On dealing with the disappointing record and finishing strong

“Any time you’re at Siena, the expectations here, every year, are very very high and they should be. I’m the first to admit the disappointment. This team has played well at times during the year. We beat Manhattan We beat Canisius. We had some very good halves. We should’ve beaten UMass. It’s a shame when you look at the season and the missed opportunities but that’s neither here nor there now. You’ve got to ready for Radford. It’s not going to be an easy game. There’s no easy games now with this team with the way it’s constructed. We’ve got to go one at a time, try to get the Radford game, and get some confidence. Marist’s playing really well. It’s not going to be an easy game and then we’ve got to finish the year at arguably the most talented team in the league, Iona with probably the best guard, on their senior night. So, that’s not going to be easy.”

Injury report other than Oliver who is out for the season

“Rahk is day-to-day. I would say doubtful for Radford. It’s going to be day-to-day with how his back feels. Everybody else is okay.”

On moving forward following the situation with OD during the Loyola game

“We’ve already moved on from it. I’ve had three meetings with OD. I met with him on Sunday. I met with him yesterday and today. We have a great relationship. We both want to win. We’re both frustrated. It was nothing personal. We moved on from it. I think OD’s the ultimate team player. I want to see the year end well. He leading the nation in rebounding (currently tied for 2nd) which is a tremendous feat. I want him to make first-team all-conference. I want us to do well so the focus is on that.”

On the surprising MAAC season.

“It’s the strongest league since I’ve been here at Siena. I did say at the beginning of the year, the league winner would probably have five losses and I’m right on the money. Niagara has four. Actually, Niagara was really lucky to beat Marist the other night. I’d say going to the tournament from 1 to 7 anybody can win. I really believe that. We’re a long-shot. I think St. Peter’s is a long-shot and I think Marist’s a long-shot. We’d have to play four times to win. But, of those seven other teams Manhattan is playing really well. Fairfield’s six out of seven and Needham is playing his best. I look for the team with the seniors guys who are playing well. My favorite going in I think would be Loyola cause of their three really good players.”

The mystery of this year’s team

“It was interesting. I heard John Calipari’s press conference after the Tennessee game where he lost by 30 points. Here’s a guy coaching five McDonald’s All-Americans, it’s February 18 and his comment was ‘I have no idea how were going to play’. He wants to change his whole offense he has some players that have not progressed and I’m sitting there going, this sounds just like Siena. I still have not figured the team out. I’ve gotta be honest with you. That might upset some people. We’ve started nine different teams (lineups), we start a big team one night, we start a small team, the injuries, the sick. I’ve got to figure out how to play in this next week. How are we going to play, what we’re going to run. We’re pretty limited on who’s going to play. I think that will be be really important in how well we do.”

“It’s basically what Calipari said about Kentucky. He’s playing with the best players in the country and he can’t figure it out. Some teams are hard to figure out. This team has been very hard for me to figure out because of all the injuries, who’s starting, who’s not starting, the inexperience. and I said all year the turnovers have drove me crazy. That has not changed. So, unless that changes and I’ve got to work on it obviously, unless that changes, it’s going to be hard to win”.

What is the best formula down the stretch?

“We played the best when we played the small lineup but that was with Brookins and he’s down now which was taken 12 points of the lineup. The option now is Imoh Silas who’s struggled to score but he’s playing better now. The challenge is if we go with the bigger lineup how do we figure out how to score. It’s a very hard thing to figure out. Do we go small and then you get killed on the glass. These are the challenges that you have with this team. But, the biggest issue with the team has been all year,the turnovers. It has not changed. Why has it not changed? Who knows? I’m at a loss for words. It has not changed. We’ve only had one game the entire season where we had more assists than turnovers. I’ve never coached a team like that and I have never coached a team with 263 assists and 408 turnovers.”

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