Sunday, November 3, 2013

Siena Exhibition Game Includes Look at Past, Present

It was an interesting confluence of a program's past, it's present and even possibly it's future.

And, how often does that happen?

It happened Saturday night at Siena when the Saints played a preseason exhibition contest against New Jersey City University of the Division III ranks, and close to 1,100 paying customers came out to the school's Alumni Recreation Center to watch.

The biggest ovation of the night came during public address introductions for the visiting team's coach.

That would be Marc Brown, now in his seventh season as head coach of NJCU, and still universally acknowledged as the best player in the Division I history of the Siena program.

Brown is still the program's all-time leading scorer and ranks No. 1 on its assists-per-game average list, even though it has been more than two decades since his graduation from Siena.

Brown's team gave a good accounting of itself, rallying from a 16-3 early deficit to pull within five late in the first half.

But, bigger, stronger, faster Siena, traits almost every D-I team would have over a D-III counterpart, took over in the second half and the Saints won by a score of 88-56.

The score, though, was inconsequential to those in attendance who had come out for two reasons: To cheer for Brown and to get the first semi-competitive glance at the new-look Saints.

That would be the "present" aspect of the evening.

New coach Jimmy Patsos, at Loyola the past nine seasons, has been promising a pressing, up-tempo style of play and he delivered Saturday night. A 48-point second half, the last seven minutes of it coming with reserves, including two walk-ons, playing, was close to what teams of the last three seasons scored for a full game.

"I'll tell you what, Marc Brown can coach," said Patsos, who indicated he'd like to bring Brown's team in for an exhibition every couple of years, if not annually. "He's got a good team. I know that. I'm a Division III guy (from his playing days at Catholic University). That's a good Division III team."

Brown appears to be a very good Division III coach. His team, as per D-III rules, could not begin practicing until Oct. 21. It had 11 days of practice prior to Saturday's exhibition while Siena had more than twice that many.

Which brings us to the "future" aspect of the exhibition contest.

Division I coaches, particularly those at Siena, don't stay in place forever. In the program's Division I history, no coach has stayed at Siena longer than eight seasons.

At some point, Patsos will move on. Clearly, we're a little ahead of things since Patsos has yet to coach a regular-season game for the Saints and will almost surely be in place for several years.

But, when he does eventually move on ... could there be a better candidate to return to Siena as the school's head coach than Marc Brown?

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