Despite going 4-1 during their week-long stay in Montreal, Siena's trip proved costly when Evan Hymes went on the shelf with a broken hand. (Photo courtesy of the Albany Times Union)
Since he replaced Mitch Buonaguro in April, Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos has restored interest in the Saints program to a point not seen since the height of the Fran McCaffery era, spreading a positive message with his colorful personality and whirlwind media tour. Among the first questions for Patsos would be how he would implement his trademark educational field trips during the season, which the coach; a history major in college who is adamant about teaching his players about life beyond the hardwood, became famous for during his nine-year tenure at Loyola. Siena fans saw the first of such trips this past week, when Patsos and the Saints traveled to Montreal for a five-game exhibition. For those who missed the events chronicled on the Siena website, here is a complete recap of what happened north of the border:
Game #1: Siena 88, University of Quebec at Montreal 78 (August 24, 2013)
Five Saints ended the first contest of the tour in double figures, led by freshman Marquis Wright, who had 19 points, six assists and four steals in his first action as the Siena point guard. Wright's backcourt partner, Evan Hymes, chipped in with 16 points of his own; including the first five of the game, while freshman forwards Javion Ogunyemi and Lavon Long ended the night with 16 and 13 points, respectively, on a combined 13-for-20 shooting effort from the field in a game that Siena led wire to wire. The opener had its tense moments, however, as UQAM pulled within one (79-78) of the Saints with 1:28 remaining in regulation following a four-point play by Richard Addai. It was as close as UQAM would get, though, as a dunk from Imoh Silas and a three-point play by Long gave Siena a five-point lead that they stretched with four free throws in the closing seconds to end the game on a 9-0 run.
Game #2: McGill 74, Siena 72 (August 25, 2013)
The only loss on the trip came on a game-winning three-pointer by Simon Bibeau as McGill used the last of their ten treys to pull off the upset. (Video of Bibeau's shot courtesy of Siena sports information director Jason Rich)
Once again, Marquis Wright was the Saints' leading scorer, chipping in with 17 points while Brett Bisping; who Patsos told us would likely start at power forward, added 12 points. Two free throws from Vincent Dufort, who led all scorers with 20 points, drew first blood for McGill and marked the first time that Siena had trailed in Montreal. McGill later added a 10-0 run midway through the first quarter, (each game consisted of four 10-minute quarters) and went into halftime with a 34-29 lead. However, an 11-2 Siena run capped off with a three-pointer from Rob Poole gave the Saints their first lead (55-54) at the 6:55 mark in the fourth quarter. After several minutes of trading baskets, Siena took a three-point lead when Ryan Oliver and Marquis Wright drained threes to start an 8-2 run that Javion Ogunyemi punctuated with 1:26 left in regulation. McGill followed up with six unanswered points before two Wright free throws and a putback by Lavon Long gave the Saints a 72-71 lead with two seconds remaining in regulation, setting the stage for Bibeau's theatrics.
Game #3: Siena 69, Queens University 48 (August 26, 2013)
Before the middle game on the trip, it was announced that Evan Hymes would miss up to six weeks after breaking the fifth metacarpal in his right hand during the Saints' loss to McGill. In Hymes' absence, Ryan Oliver started, and ended the night with five points and six rebounds. On this night, Siena had a different leading scorer, as Rob Poole led the team and all scorers with 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting, while Lavon Long was the only other Saint in double figures, contributing 13 points of his own. Marquis Wright and Imoh Silas each tallied eight points for Siena, with Wright adding five assists to complement Silas' seven rebounds.
Game #4: Siena 81, Brookwood Club 73 (August 27, 2013)
For the second straight game, Rob Poole led all scorers, going for 24 points and seven rebounds as the Saints won their second straight game following the loss to McGill. Brett Bisping matched Poole's seven boards with 15 points, while Lavon Long had an understated 12-point outing on a 5-of-7 effort from the field. Marquis Wright had another solid game, continuing to grow on this trip with a nine-point, five-assist effort.
Game #5: Siena 80, Concordia College 70 (August 28, 2013)
The final game of the Saints' journey saw another 20-point night for Rob Poole, who went 8-of-15 from the field en route to a game-high 23 points to boost his average for the five games to 17.4 points per game. Marquis Wright came within one assist of a double-double, with 15 points to go with his nine helpers, while Rich Audu did yeoman's work under the boards with seven points and five rebounds. After trailing 11-9 late in the first quarter, Siena took the lead for good on a 13-2 run capped off by two of Poole's four three-pointers on the night. With a 41-27 lead going into the second half, the Saints stretched their advantage to as many as 22 points after opening the third quarter on an 8-0 run, and withstood a 13-0 run from Concordia midway through the fourth quarter to pull out the victory.
Rob Poole, 17.4 PPG
Marquis Wright, 13.6 PPG
Evan Hymes, 12.0 PPG
Lavon Long, 9.6 PPG
Brett Bisping, 8.4 PPG
***Highlights of the five games, along with quotes, postgame reactions, and photos from the trip, can be found on the "Saints in Montreal" blog that was updated throughout the week by Jason Rich, including this clip of Jimmy Patsos "unplugged:"