Eagles' backcourt presents concerns
Niagara’s Antoine Mason, the national scoring leader, is coming to town tonight with bushels of baskets on his wish list, but Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos is a little more concerned with Mason’s backcourt partner, Marvin Jordan.
Mason, the 6-foot-3 fourth-year junior guard, is the son of former New York Knicks forward Anthony Mason, a 6-7 bull who was a mainstay on the Knicks teams of the early ’90s. Like his son, Anthony Mason was a superior scorer on the collegiate level, producing 28 ppg as a senior at Tennessee State before being drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Antoine Mason is not the power player his father was, but he’s equally effective, averaging 27.4 ppg. He has an excellent mid-range jumper, and also feasts at the free-throw line, where he averages nearly 12 attempts a game. He has converted 186 of 251 foul shots, and although he doesn’t shoot from beyond the arc often, he does have 35 trifectas.
“You’re not going to stop Antoine,” said Patsos. “You just want to play solid defense on him. He’s going to get his 15 to 20 no matter what. He’s obviously an NBA prospect, just like his father. We just don’t want him to score 40 against us.
“I’m more concerned with Marvin Jordan, because he shoots so many threes, and sometimes, we have problems defending the three.”
Patos says he most likely will use four different defenders on Mason — freshmen Lavon Long and Maurice White, sophomore Ryan Oliver and junior Rob Poole.
“Rob has been playing good defense lately. I’ll probably try all four guys on him and mix it up,” Patsos said.
Jordan, who scored 22 points in his last outing, averages 9.9 ppg, but the 5-10 senior guard has 41 threes and is a threat to launch a bomb any time.
Niagara (3-7 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, 6-15 overall) likes to run — a lot — and the Purple Eagles average 77 points a game, allowing about 88.
“We use our press to establish a certain tempo, but I’m not sure we’re going to score 80 points in this game,” said Patsos with a laugh. “When we press, that’s what we’re trying to do, to get the tempo going. We don’t get the other team to turn it over that much.”
Patsos says the flex offense, used by his mentor, Gary Williams, at Maryland, as well as coaches like Dr. Tom Davis at Iowa and former NBA coach Jerry Sloan, has been effective for his Saints, who have increased their scoring almost 10 ppg over last year.
“Everybody touches the ball in the flex offense, even the big guys. Obviously, I don’t want my center shooting three-pointers, but at least everybody gets to touch the ball. The players seem to like it,” he said.
The Saints (5-5 MAAC, 9-12 overall), who are 6-2 at home, are coming off a solid come-from-behind win at Fairfield.
Siena is second in the MAAC to Quinnipiac in rebounding margin (plus-4.2), and the Sains are 10th nationally in offensive rebounds per game (12.4 rpg).
Tonight’s game will be part of a women’s-men’s double-header, beginning with the women’s game at 6 p.m. at Times Union Center. The men will tip off about 8:30.