Nico Clareth scored 24 points in Siena debut as Saints defeated Indiana (Pa.) 82-73 in exhibition game Monday night. (Photo courtesy of Siena College Athletics)
Led by four players in double figures, Siena staved off a scrappy Indiana University of Pennsylvania team, winning their exhibition matchup at the Alumni Recreation Center by the final of 82-73. Our handful of takeaways and nuggets of note makes its return to this space tonight, profiling some of the highlights in the Saints' victory:
- Nico Clareth is a legitimate Rookie of the Year contender in the MAAC.
Don't take his stat line lightly because it was against a Division II opponent. In fact, Indiana was last year's national runner-up. Clareth left a strong first impression in his Siena debut, leading all scorers with 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting and tying for the game high with seven rebounds, and the freshman was quite economical in doing so as evidenced by his .625 offensive efficiency rating (any number over .500 is above average). The Baltimore product, who is expected to help shoulder the responsibility of replacing Rob Poole, also registered five steals on the night and connected on four of his nine three-point attempts.
- Brett Bisping showed no sign of rust.
The rugged forward did leave the game to tend to a gash above his right eye, but told the Albany Times Union's Mark Singelais he should be ready to go for Siena's closed scrimmage next week against Columbia. In his first game back from a toe injury that sacrificed most of his junior season, Bisping scored 16 points while shooting 7-of-11 from the field, and chipped in on the glass with six rebounds. More importantly, the man Jimmy Patsos has vehemently insisted would be one of his two team leaders set the tone from the beginning, scoring seven of the Saints' first 13 points in the first 7:25 of the first half.
- Lavon Long seems like he's worked on his fouling issues.
The junior forward, who expressed his desire to Patsos that he wanted to remain a starter on a team now stocked with mounds of front line depth it was noticeably bereft of a year ago, was the subject of two quick whistles in the opening minutes. After that, though, Long played within himself, only committing one more infraction the rest of the way. His 10-point, four-rebound, three-assist outing in 24 minutes made him one of the Saints' quartet of double-figure scorers, and his second half proved he could still be a vital cog in the Siena machine this season.
- Jimmy Patsos managed his bench wisely.
The coach said he would play most of his roster early in the season before gradually whittling the rotation down in much the same way his mentor, Gary Williams, did for many years at the University of Maryland. Patsos ultimately sent twelve players out to the floor tonight, with seven receiving significant minutes. With Marquis Wright and Ryan Oliver getting the starts in the backcourt, Clareth was used off the bench for 27 minutes, while his classmate Kenny Wormley recorded 17 minutes of action as Wright's backup. In his first game back from a torn ACL that ended last season before it could even begin, Imoh Silas was eased back into the swing of things, grabbing two offensive rebounds and an assist in seven minutes.
- Javion Ogunyemi is back, and has a new weapon in his arsenal.
Only a little more than 72 hours removed from receiving word that he would be eligible this season after transferring from, and back to, Siena during the offseason, Ogunyemi made up for lost time in a big way with his 16 points and game-high five blocked shots. The most impressive part of his offense, however? That would be the pair of three-pointers he drained, connecting on two of three shots from beyond the arc after not attempting a single shot from long distance in either of his first two seasons. "It came when I was practicing at Boston," (University, where Ogunyemi had transferred before having a change of heart) the junior told Mark Singelais. "Coach (Joe) Jones told me I had a nice-looking form and to be more confident," he said.
- Willem Brandwijk will redshirt this season, a decision that was made upon Ogunyemi's return. The Dutch forward will resume his eligibility next season, when he will have three years remaining.
- Freshman center Evan Fisher, who was initially slated to start had Ogunyemi not been cleared by the NCAA, played only three minutes before suffering what Patsos termed a "severe" ankle sprain. The coach is hopeful that Fisher will only miss one week, but admits that such an injury is unpredictable in its recovery time.