Saturday, March 9, 2013

Niagara 74, Siena 62: Quotes, Takeaways & Nuggets

Antoine Mason is fully recovered from injuries, as his 21 points led Niagara to 74-62 MAAC tournament quarterfinal win over Siena.  (Photo courtesy of the Buffalo News)

Niagara head coach Joe Mihalich's opening statement:
"In this league, the difference between the No. 1 and No. 8 is so marginal.  It wasn't the best game we played all year, but we were fortunate to find a way to win."

Niagara guard Antoine Mason (21 points) on his approach to the semifinals:
"We have to be sharp tomorrow.  We made a lot of mistakes, and we have to execute better tomorrow."

Joe Mihalich on guarding Siena's O.D. Anosike:
"We were trying to throw the kitchen sink at him.  He's a tough guy to guard, I don't care if you're us or anybody else."

Mihalich on Niagara's T.J. Cline, a member of the MAAC All-Rookie team:
"He's the Rookie of the Year.  He put his team in first place, he had the best stats, and he made his team win."

On Niagara's transition game and forcing turnovers:
"It's what we try to do.  I'm not a KenPom guy, I mean, I'm fascinated by it, but there's just too many numbers for me to look at."

On what makes Niagara so appealing to watch:
"I think the charm of our team is that we respect the heck out of whoever we play against."

On Siena head coach Mitch Buonaguro:
"If it weren't for bad luck, he'd have no luck at all this year."

Siena head coach Mitch Buonaguro's opening statement:
"I really thought it was a hard-fought game, I thought our guys played as hard as they could.  I'm really proud of these guys.  It's pretty rewarding that we played our best basketball late in the year."

Siena forward O.D. Anosike on today's game:
"We understood that we let a couple of points slip away at the free throw line.  We knew we had to keep (Antoine) Mason and (Juan'ya) Green in check in the second half to have a shot to win.  Niagara's a team that can hurt you in so many different ways.  They make it really tough on you to beat them."

Siena guard Rob Poole on the 2012-13 season:
"It was a tough season.  The turnovers killed us all year...if we cut down on them, we could have won a few more games."

O.D. Anosike reflecting on his career:
"It's been a great four years.  If I had to do it again, I wouldn't change anything in the world.  Siena is a place that has given me so much.  I came here an 18-year-old kid, and I'm leaving as a 22-year-old man.  I think my best basketball is ahead of me, and Siena has really prepared me to do other things in life as well."

Mitch Buonaguro on Anosike:
"To see his progression from his freshman to senior year and the numbers he put up, he's probably in the top two or three frontcourt players in the history of Siena basketball.  O.D. has made his mark on the court, and he's made his mark off the court as well by excelling in the classroom."

Nuggets of Note:
- Niagara becomes the first team to advance to the semifinals here in Springfield, and they did it in front-running fashion, taking the lead and never letting go of it.  Every time Siena made it a close game, the Purple Eagles were increasingly resilient on each ensuing possession, and pulled right back away after Siena closed in.  That is what defines a good team, and the winner of the quarterfinal between Iona and Canisius has their work cut out for them tomorrow afternoon.

- Antoine Mason, the son of former Knick Anthony and younger brother of former St. John's star Anthony Jr., was understated and efficient in Niagara's victory today.  The redshirt sophomore scored 21 points, and only needed eight shots to do it.  Mason scoring ten points at the foul line did not hurt matters, nor did Juan'ya Green's well-rounded line of 15 points, six assists and five rebounds.

- Siena shot the ball much better than Niagara, ending the day with a 50 percent clip from the field and making nine of the sixteen three-pointers they attempted, but the Saints only made nine of eighteen free throws, whereas Niagara shot 22-of-27 at the charity stripe to put the game away.

- Finally, we cannot say enough about the effort and competitive spirit of O.D. Anosike, who ended his stellar Siena career today with 13 points and 10 rebounds, fittingly securing a double-double in a four-year tenure that seemingly included one every night.  Anosike will be greatly missed across the MAAC and the area as well, and is also the most well-spoken player I personally have ever come across in six years.  Mitch Buonaguro will certainly have his work cut out replacing him.

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