RECON: vs. Siena (7-4) Tuesday 12/22, 7 p.m.
The Opponent: The Siena Saints out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). Siena is 7-4 on the season and winners of two straight. The Saints are led by Jimmy Patsos who is in his third season as Head Coach. Patsos took over the Saints after the 2013 season and immediately found success in the 2014 season by capturing the CBI title. 2014-15 was a down year which saw the Saints win only 11 games with a very young roster. They are current owners of the Franciscan Cup with a win over St. Bonaventure last season. Aside from the cup win, taking those lumps combined with an aggressive non-conference schedule this season (vs. Duke, Wisconsin, and Hofstra) has set up the Saints to rebound in 2015-16.
Last Time: 2014, Siena beat St. Bonaventure 73-70 at the Reilly Center to claim the Franciscan Cup. In what could’ve been statistically his best all-around game, Andell Cumberbatch scored 24 points, snagged 11 rebounds and added a block and assist in the losing effort.
The Skinny on Siena: Siena was picked to finish 5th in the MAAC this year according the MAAC Coaches Poll prior to the season. Their fifth place slot this year could be in defense of being picked second in the MAAC a year ago and managing only 11 total wins. Injuries played a key part in the struggles Siena faced last year. Despite the adversity, those injuries enabled younger players to play key minutes and it has transferred over to this season in stretches. Aside from losses to Duke and Wisconsin to begin the season, Siena has gone 7-2 over their last nine games with a key win over a common opponent in Hofstra. Beating Hofstra certainly doesn’t mean the Saints will beat St. Bonaventure, but it certainly does offer some thoughts of concern going into tonight’s game. How will St. Bonaventure play defensively on the road? Will there be rust to shake off for Jay Adams after his suspension and 14 day layoff? Will the Bonnies be able to hold Siena under their 78 ppg average?
Sorted out at the points per game for the Siena starting five. Balance is key to the Siena offense. In comparison, the Bonnies almost match Siena with their Big Three in Wright, Posley and Adams.
Screen grabs courtesy of Bbstate.com
The Path to Victory: As with most games in the college ranks, teams need to limit other teams scoring and make easy baskets on the other end. The Bonnies need their “Big 3” in Adams, Posley and Wright to execute as expected for the Bonnies to win. Stopping Siena on the other hand will be the key in tonight’s matchup. Siena features five players that average over 10 points per game. The ability to spread their offense out and not rely on one player may be a problem for the Bonnies with what is still viewed as a limited bench. As mentioned on the podcast, getting back Jordan Tyson and having an active Jay Adams will enable the Bonnies to give some more fouls and perhaps play more aggressively on the defensive end. With a guard oriented team in the Saints, I expect Head Coach Mark Schmidt to perhaps look into deploying his 1-3-1 half court press to disrupt Siena’s offense and get some fast break points on the other end. The ability to use somebody other than Dion Wright at the top of that press has to be enticing for Schmidt. Having five more fouls to give with Tyson can take some pressure off of Wright to stay away from fouls away from the basket. Schmidt can also use this game as a test for different defensive looks as the Bonnies stare down their A-10 opener against a talented Davidson team.
The Known (their best player):
Marquis Wright #1, is this team’s leader on the floor and in the world of analytics. Green is first or tied for first in over 75% of Siena’s offensive and defensive statistical categories. Stop Wright and the Bonnies will have a significant chance of getting a quality road win. For a glimpse of what Wright can do on the floor, look no further than six seconds in on the video above. Aside from Wright, Brett Bisping and Lavon Long are scorers that Siena can and has relied on this year. In addition, all three players are good free throw shooters and will look to get to the line for easy points against a team in the Bonnies that is not as deep as Siena.
The Gut Feeling: St. Bonaventure has consistently rebounded from poor performances and even though the Bonnies won in their last game over South Carolina State, their second half was unimpressive. Maybe the absence of Jay Adams was finally being felt and perhaps adjustments were simply made by SCST, but the Bonnies will not continue their performance from last Saturday. This game is a pretty good litmus test for both teams - Siena can add a win over a multiple bid league foe and for St. Bonaventure, they can get a quality road win against a type of opponent that the Bonnies will typically see for the remainder of the year. Not to mention, this game is on the road and not in the confines of the RC and can go a long way to forging positive momentum toward the A-10 portion of the schedule. Jay Adams is the best guard on the floor and that says a lot with the quality of guards that Siena is bringing to the table. I don’t see either team going for 80, but I do foresee the return of the Franciscan Cup to the trophy case next to Bob Lanier’s sneaker!
The Prediction: St. Bonaventure 75, Siena 67