Foul-plagued Saints need to break bad habits
Turnovers and fouls are two of the most frustrating statistical categories to accept for any basketball coach.
Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos is no different. He knows his Saints must get a handle on both numbers when they host Rider in tonight’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game at 7 p.m. at the Times Union Center.
The Saints (1-1 MAAC, 5-9 overall) committed 23 turnovers and were whistled for 27 fouls in their 63-59 loss at Monmouth Thursday night. The snowstorm that night closed many of the roads in the New Jersey area, so the Siena staff opted to stay overnight in the hotel and come back Friday.
“We got back around 1:30 in the afternoon and then had a little practice,” said Patsos Friday. “I’m thankful to the school for letting us stay. The kids liked staying over in the hotel, and it was probably better to be safe.”
Patsos said the Saints had an excellent chance to beat MAAC newcomer Monmouth, despite their gaudy turnover and foul figures.
“We didn’t play that well in the second half,” he said. “Twenty-three turnovers is too many, and they led to 22 points. I thought we were ready to play, but we had two four-minute stretches in that game where we just couldn’t score. I don’t like when that happens in the second half, because you can’t make the same adjustments that you can compared to the first half. I think our intensity was good, but we turned it over during those bad stretches.”
Siena ranks 337th out of 351 Division I men’s basketball programs in fouls per game (24), and Thursday’s game with the Hawks was the fifth time this season that they committed 25 or more.
“A lot of it has to do with the rule changes, but I’m not making any excuses,” said Patsos. “I support the rule changes, and I’ve been vocal that they are good for scoring. The refs have been great about warning the kids. I give the referees an A, because they tell the kids that they can’t keep holding. The kids know the rule changes, but we’re aggressive, and we’re young. Guys like Brett Bisping and Imoh Silas have probably played more this year than they already played all of last year, and a guy like Lavon Long is an undersized power guy who gives it everything that he has. When we win, he’s there at the end, but we’re not that deep. We play an aggressive style, and the rules hurt us sometimes.”
Long, a 6-6 freshman who came off the bench for the first time Thursday night after starting his first 13 games as a collegian, has fouled out of seven games. His 4.23 fouls per game are the most in the nation.
Junior guard Rob Poole continues to be the top scoring threat for the Saints at 15.8 points per game. He scored 21 against Monmouth after recording a career-high 28 against Fordham. Junior guard Evan Hymes is the team’s only other double-digit scorer (10.1 ppg), despite the fact that he comes off the bench. Long adds 9.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, while Bisping and Silas combine for 13 points and nearly 12 caroms per contest.
Freshman guard Marquis Wright contributes 5.64 assists per game, which leads the MAAC.
Rider (3-0, 7-5) is trying to win its first four MAAC games for the first time in nine years. The Broncs lead the nation in three-point shooting (43.5 percent).
“I’m more worried about what we do than our opponents, but Rider is one of the teams that can wind up winning the MAAC,” said Patsos. “They probably have the best 1-2 tandem in the league in [Anthony] Myles and [Daniel] Stewart. They have two great senior players who can run and shoot. It should be a tough game.”
Myles, a 6-foot-5 senior guard, produces 18.1 points per game, while Stewart, a 6-7 senior forward, is next at 15.8 ppg to go along with a team-best 6.6 rebound per contest.
Jimmie Taylor (13.0 ppg) and Zedric Sadler (10.7 ppg), also average in double figures.
DANES OPEN CONFERENCE
Defending champion University at Albany opens its America East Conference campaign by hosting Hartford tonight at 7 at SEFCU Arena.
The 6-7 Great Danes are coming off back-to-back losses at Drake (71-63) and Pittsburgh (58-46).
Sophomore guard Peter Hooley leads the Great Danes in scoring at 14.2 points per game and is shooting 88.3 percent from the line, while fellow Australian Sam Rowley, a 6-5 junior forward, contributes 13.3 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game.
UAlbany’s third double-digit scorer is senior point guard DJ Evans (11.8 ppg). The Great Danes are third in the nation in free-throw percentage (.775), while Hartford is second in the conference (.720).
Hartford (5-9) has won three of its last five games. Junior forward Mark Nwakamma is the Hawks’ top player at 16.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Volonzo Moore produces 10.3 points and 2.4 assists per game, while Evan Cooper (8.5 ppg) and Wes Cole (7.9 ppg) have combined for 52 three-pointers.