Thursday, November 28, 2013

Saints Show Fight Despite 27-Point Setback

Jimmy Patsos and Siena may be 2-5, but an underlying subplot in Saints' 87-60 loss to Memphis was resolve of team throughout night despite playing entire second half with no timeouts. (Photo courtesy of the Albany Times Union)

Just over five years ago, Jimmy Patsos came under fire for essentially playing on the short end of a 4-on-3 situation when he, then in his fifth season as the head coach at Loyola University, decided to double-team future No. 7 overall NBA Draft pick Stephen Curry in a 78-48 loss to Davidson. What was lost on most critics that night was that despite a 30-point defeat to a team that came within a basket of reaching the Final Four the previous season was that Patsos' constant double-team rendered Curry ineffective and shut the superstar guard out, marking the first and only game in which he had failed to register a single point.

A similar occurrence happened tonight, as Patsos, now the coach at Siena, guided his young Saints roster into arguably their stiffest test of the season against No. 21 Memphis in the quarterfinals of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. Siena was ultimately defeated by the final of 87-60 against a talented Tigers squad that could be the best team Josh Pastner has had in the city of Elvis' death since replacing John Calipari, and the first thing anyone who watched or followed tonight's game will point out is that Patsos used all his timeouts in the first half, calling his final respite with 1:55 remaining before the intermission.

However, another underlying stat lies in the box score of tonight's game, and that is that Siena, for all the times that Patsos needed to talk things over with his up-and-coming team, outrebounded Memphis 47-41, including dominating the Tigers to the tune of 29-18 on the offensive glass. Of Brett Bisping's 12 rebounds in the forward's double-double, (he also scored 11 points to lead the Saints) nine of them came on the offensive end. 

Say what you want about Siena being inexperienced or overmatched, but this team knows how to fight, a characteristic typical of Patsos' teams through his decade as a head coach both in Loudonville and at Loyola for the past nine years, where he turned a one-win Greyhound program into an NCAA Tournament and MAAC championship team.

"This isn't 'Hoosiers' or 'Miracle,' Patsos said after the game when surmising his roster's latest effort. "We knew this was going to be very difficult. Memphis is going far this year."

It may not yet be Siena's time, but with efforts like this one even in a result that appears one-sided, the Saints are going to go out there and take their opportunities sooner or later.

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