Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Message to Siena fans: Don't Panic

The Siena men's team became the first MAAC representative in the three-year history of the Old Spice Classic tournament to come home from that event in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., without a victory.
Rider won once in its appearance last season, while Marist had two victories in the inaugural 2006 event.
Siena went winless by dropping games by scores of 78-64 to nationally ranked No. 12 Tennessee, by 72-70 to Wichita State and by 77-68 to Oklahoma.

Reason for Siena and its fans to panic?
Not so.

Let's take the games individually, with observations made from the front of a 42-inch TV screen...
Tennessee is loaded with size, speed, talent and athleticism. It plays an uptempo style similar to Siena's.
College basketball games are much about match-ups, and this one wasn't a good one for Siena.
It was reminiscent of Siena's appearance in the 1998-99 season's NCAA tournament when it drew Arkansas in the first round.
Siena, under then coach Paul Hewitt, played even faster than it does now, pressing and trying to run on every possession.
But, that was also Arkansas' game with its "40 minutes of hell" philosophy of former coach Nolan Richardson.
That Arkansas team played the same way Siena did, only with bigger, faster, stronger athletes and handled Siena with ease back then.
Siena had that same matchup problem with Tennessee in this year's Old Spice first-rounder. No knock there. Tennessee also entered the game ranked No. 12 nationally.

Wichita State might be young, but it's talented and exhibied its potential with a close game against Georgetown in the event's first round.
Still, Siena held a 12-point lead midway through the second half before the Shockers' dedication to defense and its work on the boards (they outrebounded Siena, 37-24, for the game) turned things around.
Verdict? Could have been a victory, but not a horrendous loss.

Oklahoma State held a 13-point lead at halftime, but Siena stormed back to get within a point late in the contest. Clearly, though, this was a game Siena would have won had it shot better than 42.9 percent (12-of-28) from the foul line.

Problems for Siena? They were evident, at varying times, in the Old Spice event: Rebounding, free-throw shooting and turnovers.
Actually, rebounding was only a problem against Wichita State. Siena outrebounded both Tennessee (40-39) and Oklahoma St. (39-37).
While the free-throw work was horrendous against Oklahoma State, the Saints made 26-of-39 in its other two tournament games, 66.7 percent. Not great, but not horrible.
The turnovers were a problem. After averaging a miserly 11 turnovers per game last season, the Saints made 13, 17 and 18 in the three tournament games.
Credit some of that to playing against quality opponents and rosters filled with the type quickness not as prevelent in the MAAC.

Siena should get better as the season progresses. Remember, this is a team with one senior starter (Kenny Hasbrouck).
The other senior on the team, 6-7 forward Josh Duell, has been hampered by injuries and has played limited minutes thus far. And, another role player, 6-7 junior forward Corey Magee (concussion) has yet to get on the court this season.

But, there's one other Siena deficiency worth mentioning from the Old Spice Classic: 3-point shooting. Siena made just 6-of-36 (16.7 percent) of its bonus shots in the three-game event.

Siena was the unanimous choice of MAAC coaches to win this year's conference title.
But the Old Spice Classic, despite some flashes of good play by the Saints, indicated there are weaknesses Siena needs to correct quickly if it intends to fulfill the lofty preseason expectations.


Guy Falotico said...

Although I agree Siena fans shouldn't panic, all is not well in Loudonville. There were flaws not related to the level of opponent on display in Orlando. The shot selection was abysmal, and a veteran squad should be able to put away an inferior opponent (Wichita St) when it has a comfortable lead with a few minutes to play. Siena is the best team in the MAAC, but those who still think they're going to run through the league with hardly a blemish weren't paying attention.

soup said...

Siena has rolled the mids they played - Boise and Cornell. They had Wichita dead to rights and choked it away late. Wichita doesn't look bad - Marshall is a good coach - hopefully they don't finish in the basement of the MVC. I just have a feeling that while Siena will lose 9 out of 10 games against Top 25 teams, they'll still roll the everyday mids they face in the MAAC.