The Sunday Saint (12/23)

Saints Stumble Heading into Christmas Break

jpcoc
The Daily Gazette

After a long break for final exams, the Siena Saints returned to the court for games against the College of Charleston and Holy Cross.

On Tuesday, the Siena welcomed the College of Charleston to the Times Union Center. After a back-and-forth opening 20 minutes, the Cougars took a 33-28 lead into the break. The College of Charleston put the Saints in their rear-view mirror as they used a 16-4 run to establish a commanding lead that they would not relinquish. The Cougars shot a blistering 66.7-percent in the second half to roll to an 83-58 win.

The College of Charleston shot 61.5-percent from the floor and outrebounded Siena 33-24. The Cougars held the Saints to just 38.9-percent from the field to earn the win.

Preseason All-CAA first team selection, Jarrell Brantley, led the College of Charleston with 23 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting, all of which came in the final stanza. Brantley also corralled five rebounds and dished out three assists.

Evan Fisher returned to the starting lineup for Siena after he missed two games with a lower body injury. The senior forward led Siena with 18 points, on 7-of-14 from the field, and seven rebounds.

The Saints traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts for a rematch against the Holy Cross Crusaders, who beat them, 57-45, in the Hall of Fame Classic in November.

Siena took a 31-26 lead into the locker room following a 16-3 run to close the half.

The Saints took a 10 point lead, 47-37, on a three-pointer by Sloan Seymour. Holy Cross, who shot 61.9-percent in the second half, ripped-off a 17-2 run and took a 54-49 lead on a jumped by Austin Butler with 6:39 remaining in the game. Siena refused to go away and regained a one point advantage (57-56) on a corner triple by Kevin Degnan with 2:17 left. Butler’s layup with 1:15 to go gave the Crusaders the lead for good. Caleb Green made a layup with 23 ticks on the clock to provide the final margin of 60-57. After missing a free throw, Jalen Pickett got the rebound tapped back to him, but misfired on a potential game-tying three-point attempt at the buzzer and Holy Cross defeated the Saints for the second time this season. Siena enters the holiday break after losing two consecutive games, giving them a 4-8 record.

The Crusaders shot 54.3-percent from the floor and held Siena to a 42.6-percent clip.

Butler led Holy Cross with 18 points, on 7-of-14 from the field, including 4-of-8 from deep, and five rebounds.

Fisher led the Saints with 17 points, on 8-of-14 from the floor, and nine rebounds. Pickett scored 14 points, on 6-of-13 shooting, pulled down four boards, and distributed eight assists. Jimmy Ratliff added 11 points off the bench.

Siena lost junior forward Sammy Friday for the rest of the season due to a lower body injury.

Player of the Week: Evan Fisher

efhc
The Daily Gazette

This week’s player of the week for Siena was Evan Fisher. The senior forward returned to the lineup this week after sitting out against St. Bonaventure and Robert Morris with a lower body injury. Fisher averaged 17.5 points, eight rebounds and shot 53.6-percent from the field. It is clear that the Saints are a better team with Fisher on the floor. His play will be an integral factor if Siena plans to compete in the MAAC.

Up Next: Cal Poly

The Saints will look to snap their two game skid when they return home after Christmas to take on Cal Poly next Saturday in the non-conference finale. Tip-off is set for 2pm. The Mustangs are 3-8 and are coming off a 75-70 loss to the University of Texas at Arlington on Saturday. Cal Poly is led by Donovan Fields who is averaging 16.2 points and 3.9 assists per game.

The Sunday Saint (12/9)

Saint Split a Pair on the Road

kdrmu
sienasaints.com

Siena went to 4-6 this season after splitting a pair of contests on the road against St. Bonaventure and Robert Morris.

The Saints were clobbered by the Bonnies in the 2018 edition of the Franciscan Cup on Wednesday night. St. Bonaventure took control of the game with a 22-3 run to end the opening stanza to take a 42-16 lead into the break. Although Siena trimmed the Bonnies lead to 22 (55-33) on a three-pointer by Jimmy Ratliff with 11:59 remaining, St. Bonaventure never relinquished the lead they built in the first half. The Bonnies ended the game on a 26-7 spurt to secure the Franciscan Cup for the third time in as many years.

St. Bonaventure put on a clinic on both ends of the court. The Bonnies shot 55.9-percent from the field and held the Saints to 32.6-percent shooting and forced Siena into 15 turnovers.

St. Bonaventure was led by Nelson Kaputo who poured in 21 points off the bench.

Ratliff was the lone Saint in double figures. The North Alabama-transfer tallied 16 points off the bench and grabbed five rebounds.

The Saints played without senior forward Evan Fisher who left last Saturday’s game against Harvard with a lower body injury.

Siena looked to get back on the right track when they traveled to take on Robert Morris on Saturday.

The Saints took a 38-32 lead into halftime and built an 18 point advantage on a three-pointer by Sloan Seymour with 16:25 left. The Colonials were not done yet. Robert Morris used a 22-4 run to take a 67-65 lead with 4:26 to go. Jalen Pickett backed down his defender to tie the score at 71 with 41.7 ticks on the clock. Pickett missed the free throw that could have given Siena the lead. The Colonials’ Josh Williams missed a layup with 18 seconds remaining, giving the Saints the opportunity to win the contest on their final possession. The Saints did just that. Kevin Degnan nailed a triple with two seconds left to send Siena home with a 74-71 victory.

The Saints shot 50.9-percent from the floor and connected on 11-of-25 (44-percent) of their attempts from beyond the arc. Robert Morris shot 56.3-percent from the field, but only made six threes.

The Colonials were led by Williams who scored 19 points.

Siena was led by Pickett who netted 20 points, corralled seven boards, and dished out seven assists. Degnan, who hit the game-winning trey, added a career-high 19 points, on 7-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-8 from deep, and seven rebounds. Manny Camper shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the field and finished with 14 points and four boards. Ratliff earned his first start of the season and recorded a solid performance with 10 points and four rebounds.

Fisher was out for the second consecutive game nursing a lower leg injury, while Sammy Friday IV also sat out against Robert Morris with a lower body injury. Ratliff and Degnan both stepped up in their absences.

Player of the Week: Jimmy Ratliff

jrrmu

Although Degnan hit the game-winner and Pickett led the Saints in scoring, the unsung hero of the week for Siena was Jimmy Ratliff. The red-shirt freshman walk-on had his two best games of the season thus far against St. Bonaventure and Robert Morris. Ratliff averaged 13 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-11 from distance, and 4.5 rebounds. Ratliff will need to continue to step up if Fisher and Friday IV are out for an extended period of time.

Up Next: College of Charleston and Holy Cross

The Saints have a long layoff before there next game. Siena will return to action next Tuesday, December 18 when they host the College of Charleston at the Times Union Center. Tip-off is set for 7pm. The Cougars are 7-2 and are coming off a 72-64 win over Charlotte. College of Charleston is led by Grant Riller who is averaging 21.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game. Last year, the Cougars defeated the Saints 68-60 in overtime in Charleston.

Siena will have an opportunity to avenge their earlier loss to Holy Cross when they travel to Worcester, Massachusetts to battle with the Crusaders on Saturday, December 22 at noon. It is very unusual to play a non-conference opponent twice in a season, but this game was scheduled not knowing that the two teams were going to play each other in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Classic in November. Holy Cross is 6-4 and are coming off a 79-63 loss to Rhode Island. The Crusaders won the first meeting over the Saints 57-45. Jacob Grandison led Holy Cross to the win with 24 points and four assists, while Fisher led Siena with 14 points, seven rebounds, and three assists in the loss.

Freshly Squeezed (11/26)

Syracuse Bounces Back with Win over Colgate

elijah
Syracuse University

After falling to UConn and Oregon, Syracuse bounced back to pick up their third win of the season with a 77-56 victory over longtime instate rival Colgate on Thanksgiving Eve at the Carrier Dome. It was the Orange’s 53rd consecutive win over the Raiders—the longest winning streak against an opponent in Division I.

Colgate had Syracuse on their heels early, as the Raiders connected on eight three pointers in the first 20 minutes and trailed the Orange just 35-32 at the break. Colgate continued their hot streak from deep as they sunk three of their first four attempts from distance in the second stanza. With the game tied at 42, Elijah Hughes hit a three to spark a 22-3 run that put Syracuse up for good. Tyus Battle took the game over and scored 10 points over that stretch.

The Orange shot 43.3-percent from the field and 35-percent from three and held the Raiders to 35.3-percent from the floor and 30-percent from beyond the arc. Syracuse also forced Colgate into 16 turnovers.

Will Rayman and Jordan Burns tallied 13 points apiece to lead the Raiders in the losing effort. Rayman grabbed eight rebounds, while Burns dished out five assists.

Battle paced the Orange with 24 points on an efficient 8-of-10 shooting. Hughes and his frontcourt-mate Oshae Brissett poured in 17 points apiece and pulled down six and nine rebounds, respectively. Sophomore center Bourama Sidibe recorded his second career double-double as he finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The big man also came away with three steals. Sidibe saw an uptick in his minutes as starting center Paschal Chukwu left the game with a groin strain after playing only four minutes. His status for Wednesday’s game against Ohio State remains uncertain.

The most important takeaway from last Wednesday’s tilt with Colgate was that it was Frank Howard’s first appearance of the season. The senior point guard nailed a trey on his first shot attempt, dished out five assists, and came away with three steals in 19 minutes of action.

frank
Syracuse.com

Coach Boeheim commented on Howard’s impact in his postgame press conference. “It was good to have Frank (Howard) back,” Boeheim said. “He made a couple really smart plays to start the second half. He got the ball back to Elijah and gave it to Tyus, and we got a couple of threes because of it.”

Hopefully, a week of practice will have Howard fully back in the swing of things when Syracuse travels to Columbus to take on Ohio State on Wednesday.

Player of the Week: Tyus Battle

tyus_c
Syracuse.com

In a week where the Orange only played one game, Tyus Battle proved to be Syracuse’s player of the week. The junior guard looked much more comfortable with his running mate Frank Howard back in the lineup. Battle was able to play off the ball and act as more of a scorer as opposed to having to run the offense and get others involved as he had in the first four games of the season. He also started to heat up from three against Colgate. Battle connected on all three of his attempts from three point land against the Raiders. He will need to play even better if Syracuse wants to take down the Buckeyes in this week’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Up Next: Ohio State and Cornell

The Orange travel to Columbus to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday night. Tip-off is set for 7:15pm. Ohio State enters the contest undefeated and ranked 16th in the country. The Buckeyes are coming off an 89-62 win over Cleveland State and have also won at Cincinnati and at Creighton. Once again, Chris Holtmann’s team is taking the college basketball world by surprise. Ohio State is led by Kaleb Wesson who is averaging 14.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

After squaring off with the Buckeyes, Syracuse will return to the Carrier Dome to host Cornell. The game will feature Coach Boeheim, his son Buddy, and the Orange against his oldest son Jimmy and the Big Red. Cornell is 3-3 and are coming off a 91-74 loss to UConn. The Big Red are led by one of the best players in mid-major college basketball, Matt Morgan, who is averaging 26.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Jimmy Boeheim is averaging 13.8 points and 4.6 rebounds so far in his sophomore season. Last year, Coach Boeheim and Syracuse defeated Cornell 77-45, but not before Jimmy drained his first career three right in front of his dad’s bench. Buddy will make his debut in the family rivalry Saturday night. Tip-off is set for 8pm.

The Sunday Saint (11/25)

Saints Struggle at Home

After starting off the season 2-2, the Saints dropped a pair of games to Patriot League opponents this week and are in the midst of a three game skid heading into the final week of November. Siena lost 80-69 in their home opener Wednesday night and suffered an 84-79 defeat at the hands of Colgate at the Times Union Center on Saturday afternoon.

The Saints found themselves trailing Patriot League favorite, Lehigh, 42-37 at halftime after a back-and-forth opening stanza. The Mountain Hawks kept Siena at an arm’s length throughout the second half, but the Saints did manage to cut the lead to three (64-61) with 6:39 remaining. Lehigh used a 10-0 run to pull away and win 80-69. The Mountain Hawks shot 58-percent from the floor, including a blistering 63.2-percent from beyond the arc. Siena shot just 40.6-percent from the field and connected on just 8-of-30 (26.7-percent) three point attempts. The Saints failed to make 10 or more three pointers for the second consecutive game after doing so in their first three contests. Kyle Leufroy led Lehigh with 25 points, on 8-of-11 shooting and 4-of-5 from distance, five rebounds, and three assists. Freshman point guard Jalen Pickett paced Siena with 25 points, on 10-of-19 from the field and 4-of-8 from deep, six boards, seven assists, and three steals. Senior forward Evan Fisher contributed with 13 points, on 5-of-13 attempts from the floor, and seven rebounds in the losing effort.

evan_l
The Daily Gazette

The Saints hosted the Colgate Raiders in a Saturday afternoon matinee and fell 84-79 in an up tempo affair. Colgate led for 14 of the first 20 minutes and took a six point lead (43-37) into the break. Siena rallied to take a 69-65 lead after a three point play by Fisher with 5:13 left in the game, but the Raiders used a 10-2 run to take a four point lead (75-71) that they would not relinquish. Sophomore guard Manny Camper missed three free throws in the final minute and Colgate escaped the Times Union Center with a victory. The Raiders shot 54.7-percent from the floor and 47.8-percent from three, while the Saints shot 53.3-percent from the field, but just 21.7-percent (5-of-23) from three point land. Siena failed to connect on 10 or more three point field goals for the third straight game—a trend that will need to be reversed if the Saints want to get back into the win column. Jordan Burns poured in 25 points, on 9-of-14 shooting and 5-of-9 from three, to lead Colgate. He also dished out four assists. Siena was led by Fisher who netted a career-high 22 points, on 9-of-12 shooting, and six rebounds. Pickett stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, on 9-of-16 from the floor, five boards, nine assists, seven steals, and two blocks. Camper added 10 points, on 4-of-9 from the field, and seven rebounds. Junior forward Sammy Friday IV finished with 10 points, on 4-of-6 shooting in the loss.

Player of the Week: Jalen Pickett

jalen_c
Times Union

For the second time in the season’s first three weeks, Siena’s player of the week is Jalen Pickett. The freshman point guard was impressive in his first two starts at home. Pickett averaged 23 points and shot 54.3-percent from the floor in two games. He quarterbacked the offensive attack well, posting a 4:1 assist to turnover ratio against Lehigh and Colgate. Defensively, Pickett has proven that he is a tremendous two way player as he recorded totals of 10 steals and three blocks this past week. Jamion Christian’s first recruit to Siena has done everything asked of him over the early portion of the Saints’ schedule and will look to be one of the best freshman in the MAAC moving forward.

Up Next: Hofstra Pride and Harvard Crimson

After their two game home stand, Siena will travel to Long Island to take on Hofstra on Wednesday at 7pm. The Pride are 3-3 and are coming off a 69-67 overtime loss to VCU on the road. Hofstra is led by one of the best players in mid-major college basketball, Justin Wright-Foreman, who is averaging 28 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. Last year, the Saints beat the Pride 85-76 at the Times Union Center.

Siena will return home on Saturday, December 1 to play Harvard. Tip-off is set for 3pm. The game is part of a doubleheader with the Siena women who will tip off against Florida Atlantic at 1pm. This game was added to the schedule to replace the Albany Cup that was suspended this year as Siena and UAlbany could not come to an agreement as to where the game should be played. The Crimson are 3-3, coming off a 74-68 win over St. Mary’s on the road. Harvard will play Holy Cross before heading to Albany to battle with the Saints. The Crimson are led by Chris Lewis who is averaging 15.8 points per contest.

The Sunday Saint (11/18)

Saints Fall in Championship Game of Hall of Fame Classic

NCAA Basketball: Siena at Providence
GetMoreSports

The Saints took part in the Air Force Reserve Basketball Hall of Fame Classic presented by Citi at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT this weekend. Siena defeated Norfolk State 61-58 Friday night and advanced to the championship game where they lost to Holy Cross 57-45.

The freshman duo of Sloan Seymour and Jalen Pickett powered the Saints to a 61-58 victory Friday night over Norfolk State. Seymour led Siena with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting (4-of-9 from three), while Pickett finished with 12 points, four rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Evan Fisher chipped in with 13 points in the victory. The Saints poured in 10+ three pointers for the third game in a row, further differentiating the coaching style of Coach Jamion Christian from his predecessor Jimmy Patsos.

Siena was unable to capture the Air Force Reserve Basketball Hall of Fame Classic trophy as they fell 57-45 to Holy Cross in Sunday morning’s championship game. Fisher led the way for the Saints with 14 points, on 7-of-14 from the field, and seven rebounds. Siena connected on less than 10 threes for the first time this season and suffered their second loss of the 2018-19 campaign.

Player of the Week: Evan Fisher

evan
The Daily Gazette

Evan Fisher was this week’s player of the week for Siena. The senior averaged 13.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and shot 12-for-22 in the two games in the Hall of Fame Classic. The Saints will look for Fisher to be a stabilizing force on the interior and provide senior leadership as they continue to move through their season.

Up Next: Lehigh Mountain Hawks and Colgate Raiders

The Saints open their home slate on Wednesday against Lehigh. Tip off at the Times Union Center is set for 6pm. The Mountain Hawks are 3-1 and are led by Pat Andree who is averaging 17.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Last year Siena lost a nail-biter, 91-90, in overtime at Lehigh.

Siena hosts Colgate on Saturday. Tip off at the Times Union Center is set for 2pm. Jordan Burns leads the Raiders, who are off to a 3-1 start. The sophomore guard is averaging 18 points and five assists per contest.

The Sunday Saint

Siena off to a 1-1 start in the Jamion Christian Era

jamion
Times Union

After a tumultuous offseason that saw Siena fire head coach Jimmy Patsos amid a scandal involving mistreatment of a team manager and many changes to the roster, the Saints opened the Jamion Christian Era this week. Christian had previously coached Mount Saint Mary’s to two NCAA Tournaments in six years. Coach Christian preaches defensive pressure and three point shooting as the cornerstones of his coaching philosophy. Saints fans saw both on display in the team’s first two games this week.

Siena, who was picked to finish last in the MAAC this season, opened their 2018-19 at Big East powerhouse Providence on Tuesday. The Saints pulled themselves within seven late, but ultimately fell 77-67 to the Friars. Providence coach Ed Cooley, who previously coached at Fairfield in the MAAC, made it clear in his postgame statements that he thought Siena would not finish last in the MAAC this year. Freshman forward Sloan Seymour led the way for the Saints as he tallied 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. Senior forward Evan Fisher contributed with 11 points, six rebounds, and three assists in the losing effort. Siena held true to Coach Christian’s philosophy as the team made 12 three pointers and forced the Friars into 15 turnovers.

The Saints had a quick turnaround between its first two games as they traveled to the nation’s capital to take on George Washington Thursday night. Siena pulled away down the stretch to clinch a 69-61 win; the first victory under Christian. Freshman point guard Jalen Pickett stuffed the stat sheet with 19 points, five rebounds, and six assists. Senior forward Kevin Degnan finished with 15 points and eight boards in the win. The Saints connected on 13-of-34 three point attempts, compared to George Washington, who shot just 8-of-18 from distance.

kevin
The Daily Gazette

Player of the Week: Jalen Pickett

This week’s player of the week for Siena was Jalen Pickett. The freshman has been tasked with quarterbacking the offensive attack for the Saints and has led the team in scoring at 13 points per contest. Most importantly, he has dished out 15 assists and only turned the ball over three times over the course of the first two games. Siena will rely on Pickett to shoulder a bulk of the ball-handling duties this season and has shown that he is up for the task thus far.

Jalen_p
The Daily Gazette

Up next: Norfolk State and Holy Cross/Stony Brook

Siena will take part in the Air Force Reserve Basketball Hall of Fame Classic presented by Citi at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut this weekend. The Saints will face Norfolk State in the first round Friday night at 8:30pm., followed by either the championship or consolation against either Holy Cross or Stony Brook.

The Norfolk State Spartans are 2-1 overall and will play at South Carolina on Tuesday night before they battle with the Saints. Norfolk State is led by Nic Thomas who is averaging 13.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

Holy Cross is 1-1 on the season and will play at Providence before they meet with Stony Brook Friday night. The Crusaders are led by Austin Butler who is averaging 14 points and 3.5 boards per contest. If Siena and Holy Cross play each other this weekend, they will face each other for a second time, as the Saints are at the Crusaders December 22.

Stony Brook is 2-0 on the season with wins over George Washington and South Carolina and will square off against Holy Cross on Friday at 6pm. The Seawolves are led by Akwasi Yeboah who is averaging 18 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

Holy Cross at Siena

Siena Closes Out Non-Conference Play Strong

UAlbany vs Siena
sienasaints.com

Siena defeated Holy Cross 71-65 at home Friday night to close out their non-conference slate with a 4-9 record. With the win, Siena improved to 7-0 all-time versus the Crusaders.

Holy Cross’ head coach, Bill Carmody, was not on the sideline for the game due to undisclosed reasons.

The Saints fell behind 10-0 in the early going, but Coach Patsos inserted Nico Clareth into the lineup and everything changed, as the junior captain scored 18 points in the first stanza and took a 40-33 lead into halftime. Siena used a 10-1 run in the second half to claim their largest lead of 12 with 8:47 remaining. Holy Cross made it close late, but Siena hung on for the win.

Clareth led all scorers with 29 points on 8-for-14 shooting and connected on 3 triples; he also added 3 assists and 3 steals. Roman Penn finished with 13 points and 4 rebounds.

Patrick Benzan paced the Crusaders with 12 points and 5 rebounds.

Despite their 4-9 record, the young Saints have improved throughout their tough non-conference schedule, which has been demonstrated in their last three games (a blowout of Bryant, a tough loss at Memphis, and a win over Holy Cross). The Saints will look to take this momentum and continue to improve as conference play starts next week. Although there a no easy games in the MAAC, the Saints, who were picked sixth in the MAAC Pre-Season Coaches’ Poll will face off against Marist, Quinnipiac, and Canisius in their of their first four conference games-all of which were selected to finish in the bottom three of the league. The Saints will need to show that playing a tough non-conference has prepared them for the grind of league play against those teams if they want to have any chance at making their projected sixth place finish.

Siena opens MAAC play at arch rival Marist on Friday, December 29. Tip-off is set for 7pm.