Sunday, May 3, 2015

Jimmy Patsos looks back on his second year at Siena

Jimmy Patsos' second year at Siena was filled with highs and lows, but not same result to end seasons as his maiden campaign with Saints, who won CBI in 2014. (Photo courtesy of Big Apple Buckets)

Like several other coaches in his conference, Jimmy Patsos is a straight shooter. Not afraid to speak his mind about his team's performance, good, bad, or indifferent, Patsos always offers an insightful analysis about the efforts brought forth by his players on the court after a win or a loss. So it was, then, that when surmising the end result of his second season at the helm of Siena, the eclectic skipper of the S.S. Saint offered an explanation as well-rounded and detailed as those of his press conferences after a game.

"Sometimes, I thought our effort lacked," Patsos said of Siena's 11-20 record, a stark contrast from the Saints' 20-win season and CBI championship in his first year in Loudonville last season, following a near-decade-long run at Loyola, "and that's on me, I accept that." "At least we competed down the stretch, and I really liked that. We didn't quit, so I'm proud of that."

Picked second in the preseason coaches' poll due to bringing back everyone except walk-on Steven Cruz from the team that defeated Fresno State to win the CBI, Siena still returns the core of that group for the 2015-16 season. Gone are backcourt mainstays Rob Poole and Evan Hymes, as well as Javion Ogunyemi; who announced his intent to transfer last month, but a trio of newcomers will take their places on a roster that is undoubtedly one of the best in the conference once again as the Saints look to contend with perennial MAAC powerhouses Iona and Manhattan, as well as an up-and-coming Monmouth team that returns the bulk of its roster for head coach King Rice.

"Nico Clareth is a guard who can play the two or the three," Patsos said of his 6-4 recruit from Calvert Hall High School in Baltimore. "I'd be shocked if he doesn't start. Something would have to really go wrong. Kenny Wormley (a 6-3 guard from Riverdale Baptist High School in Maryland) can play the one or the two, he's going to play a lot and contend for a starting job. I think Evan Fisher (a 6-9 forward from the McDonogh School, also in Maryland) is a lot like Brett Bisping, he's got a little more stuff to his game than you'd think."

"They're all quality people that want to win," he continued. "I don't think they're coming in looking to take the most shots and stuff, but I think they're going to be a major part of the team. We're going to play those three freshmen a ton of minutes."

Going into next season, Siena brings a combination of youth and experience into a critical third year under Patsos, one even he admits will be a clear indicator of not just where the program stands, but of how far it has come since replacing Mitch Buonaguro in 2013.

"You know what we did? We would win and then lose," he recalled of the up-and-down, adversity-plagued season. "We had, like, six weeks in a row we just split, and Imoh and Brett said we learned a lot, but you have to be happy you won, then focus on the next game. The MAAC is a tough league, because it's two games in three days, and one is on the road."

"We were in enough games," he concluded. "We just didn't have quite enough horses in the finish. I think we learned a lot. We won 20 games and the CBI, and then (in) year two, we had some injuries. Now, we have to put some stuff back together and get back on the right path. It's a big season three and four for us, as we say."

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