Wednesday, July 13, 2016

For Siena's seniors, final go-round marked by chance to exceed expectations

Marquis Wright leads a quartet of seniors that look to validate the household name status they have achieved in MAAC circles over first three years at Siena. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)

Jimmy Patsos' first three seasons at Siena have been marked by his upperclassmen stepping up to lead on and off the court, starting with Rob Poole and Evan Hymes during the Saints' run to the CBI championship, and continuing with Ryan Oliver in a supporting role.

This year, four seniors get the chance to make the most out of their last moment in the sun, and based on the offseason workouts this summer, each one is answering the call in advance of their final campaign, perhaps none more so than point guard Marquis Wright.

"Marquis looks good," Patsos said of his floor general and the progression he has made, which is magnified since Wright's return from injury midway through last season. "He's working very hard. I'm very pleased with Marquis. I think he took the losses to Iona and Morehead State personally last season."

In particular, Patsos is placing a lot of the credit for Wright's renewed work ethic in the hands of new assistant coach Abe Woldeslassie, hired this offseason after spending time on the staff of Bob McKillop at Davidson.

"Abe's doing a great job," Patsos said. "Marquis is doing workouts with all the coaches, but he's really taken a liking to Abe. He's kind of a guy who does a lot of workout stuff like that. You're just going to see him with Marquis and say, 'wow, he just does so many things well.'"

"Marquis is really important to us," Patsos continued. "We learned how to win without him, but I'd much rather have him. I want to see him do a few more things. I want to see him get a little more: a) vocal, and b) really tight with the ball, because I want to see him play professionally. One thing he has to do is tighten up his game. His ball handling is good, but he can't turn it over as much. We're really looking forward to Marquis, he's had a good spring."

While Wright anchors the backcourt, Siena's three-pronged front line of Swiss Army knife Lavon Long; coupled with all-MAAC honorees Brett Bisping and Javion Ogunyemi, appears to be among the best in the conference on paper, but the man who puts the lineup together is taking any and all prognostications with a grain of salt.

"I've always seen Lavon as something of a sixth man," said Patsos of the Maryland native he affectionately dubbed "The Terminator." "I know everybody wants to start, but he does so many things. I think Lavon can also play some four. He's a great four man, he has the ball in his hands a lot. He adds to our frontcourt. He probably will come off the bench just because he's so good at a little of everything, but I said that last year and he still started."

"Lavon's a great player," he further stated. "He's just got to get more consistent, and there's games that he's won us just by his cerebral play."

Of Bisping and Ogunyemi, Patsos began his defense by urging to expect the expected in terms of their numbers.

"Brett and Javion are going to be Brett and Javion," he said. "But there's going to be people that are going to come after them this year, so they've got to get a little better. I'd like to see Brett and Javion work a little better together, high-low."

"They're two different players," Patsos admitted. "Brett is more of an outside player, Javion could shoot it, but he's an inside force and a defensive player. It's funny, Brett and Javion each do well when the other one doesn't. In other words, Brett's got to pick up his defense, Javion's got to become a little more of a consistent wing player. I don't want to say Draymond Green, but that would be nice. That's the kind of scenario I'm looking for."

Bisping, a first team all-MAAC selection, and Ogunyemi, the conference's reigning Defensive Player of the Year, should both be among the preseason first team honorees when those names are released shortly before the season. With that in mind, Patsos took time to reaffirm the notion that no one is sleeping on either of his forwards, and that the time is now for both to produce accordingly.

"They're going to come after them," he candidly assessed. "There are no surprises. People didn't know if Brett Bisping was going to be any good because he was hurt, nobody knew about Javion coming back from BU and not knowing if he was going to be eligible, so they surprised a lot of people. Now, they're marked men. It's what you do when they know who you are."

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