Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Marquis Wright heads into his junior season as Siena's unquestioned leader

Marquis Wright's progression between his freshman and sophomore seasons places junior point guard at forefront of Siena program entering Jimmy Patsos' third year. (Photo courtesy of Vincent Simone via Big Apple Buckets)

Even in the most turbulent of storms, there is always a presence of calm in the center. For Siena, theirs came in the form of a point guard, who improved from diminutive passer to well-rounded jack of all trades in his second season, and matured even quicker considering the multitude of injuries and adversity faced by the Saints en route to an 11-20 record, just one year removed from a CBI championship that many felt put the one-time king of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference on the fast track toward a return to its oft-familiar position among the conference's elite.

Marquis Wright was going to play for Jimmy Patsos no matter where he coached in the 2013-14 season, initially agreeing to join him at Loyola University upon graduating from North Point High School. However, when Patsos, a staunch supporter of the MAAC who was on the verge of being cast into a smaller pond by Loyola's move to the Patriot League, replaced Mitch Buonaguro at Siena in April 2013, Wright soon followed.

A starter as a freshman, Wright's averages of nearly nine points and four rebounds per game, to go with over five assists, made him the man responsible for making the motor run. He followed that up with a sophomore campaign that was equally as enviable, increasing his scoring by almost four points while maintaining his rebound and assist numbers. What is more than that, though, is his relentless desire to better himself, something that makes his role even greater as he prepares for his junior season.

"Marquis is working hard this spring," Patsos raved about Wright's desire to build upon a season that nearly nabbed him all-conference honors. "He's really committed to being here."

With Rob Poole and Evan Hymes having graduated, Wright is now the lone constant in the Saints' backcourt, with Ryan Oliver perhaps taking on a larger role entering his senior season, and incoming freshmen Nico Clareth and Kenny Wormley joining the rotation. Up front, Javion Ogunyemi has transferred, but Brett Bisping and Imoh Silas return from injury to join Lavon Long in one of the strongest front lines in the MAAC. However, there is no debate as to the vitality of the most potent spark plug, with the man in jersey No. 1 being option No. 1 as Siena readies for what Patsos admits is a "big season three" in the capital region.

"Just because Marquis doesn't show a lot of emotion or yell out there, he's still a fiery guy," Patsos reassured. "In the huddles, he knows what he's talking about. I said to him, 'how can you get Lavon to stop fouling?' And he's like, 'I'll work on it.' So Marquis knows, and I think he's going to be a really good leader."

In a situation where young players may have become hesitant or overwhelmed by crucial in-game moments, Wright was unfazed. Given the injuries suffered by Poole, Bisping, Silas, and Long over the course of the year, there really was not much choice in the matter due to the short rotation Siena employed out of necessity. Yet, to his credit, Wright flourished under pressure, and provided a positive sign that although year two was a bumpier road than some may have envisioned, there truly is a light at the end of the tunnel in Loudonville.

"Marquis and I had some great talks this year," Patsos continued. "What he and I talked about was, he had to take some tough shots, but he really didn't have anybody to give it to when the shot clock came down. Now, he's preparing for that. I think he's going to continue to become a better defensive player, and he really wants to win. Marquis said one interesting thing to me, he said 'I'm content taking less shots, Coach, and passing more. I just want us to win."

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