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Bon Voyage

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Hope you enjoyed following the Saints journey as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you!

Jimmy Patsos Recaps Montreal Trip

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Five Things We Learned in Montreal

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1. The Energy is Back

Having watched Jimmy Patsos for the last nine years at Loyola, I must admit it was a bit strange seeing him patrol the sideline this week for Siena. If you thought his fiery coaching techniques might mellow a bit in his new gig, think again. These games were intense and that started with Patsos. While the settings, varied as they were, didn't have a Division I feel, the action on the court often did. Patsos yelled and screamed throughout the games, but it was with a definite purpose. He challenged almost everyone on the team at one point, and he had to be pleased with the results. Siena pressed and was extremely active on defense. They pushed the ball off misses, and ran the sets they've implemented successfully in the half court. The scorer's table looked like a carousel with the players subbing in and out, but everyone who played contributed. Ryan Oliver and Rich Audu gave especially productive efforts, and seemed to settle into their meaningful roles as the trip advanced. Despite playing five games in five days, the team had plenty of legs deep into the final game. Siena was tested on this trip and that will pay huge dividends. It was fun to see the team come together and get better. It was fun to see Jimmy wearing a Siena polo too.

2. Siena Has a Point Guard

His name is Marquis Wright. It probably took some by surprise when Patsos handed the keys to the freshman this summer and moved Evan Hymes to off guard. There's no questioning that decision now. Wright wasn't perfect on the tour (he turned the ball over too much early and took some ill-advised shots - many due to the 24 second shot clock being used in three of the games), but he showed more than enough to have Siena fans excited about his promising four-year career. The culmination of his week came in the final game when he just missed a triple double and had total command. Let's hold off with the Marc Brown and Ronald Moore comparisons (in truth, his game doesn't really resemble either), and let him build his own legacy. This trip may have had a bigger impact on Wright than any other Saint, and Wright may have more to say about Siena's success this season than anyone else. Oh, and he's a nice kid too.

3. Rob Poole is Poised For a Breakout Season

In 2008, Siena toured Italy and a star was born. After Kenny Hasbrouck, Ronald Moore, Alex Franklin and Edwin Ubiles helped the Saints knock off Vanderbilt, nobody was expecting the scrawny freshman from Staten Island to dominate professional men on the team's foreign tour the following summer. Ryan Rossiter did just that and the rest, as they say, is history. Rob Poole might have had a trip like that. Poole was the best player on the floor in pretty much every game, and he did it without shooting the 3-pointer well until the final night. Poole was playing against athletic guards each night, and even served as backup point guard after Evan Hymes broke his hand. He was more than up to the challenge, but most important he displayed leadership on the court - something the Saints will desperately need with such an inexperienced roster.

4. The Freshmen Can Play, And They Will

We mentioned Wright, but Lavon Long, Javion Ogunyemi and Michael Wolfe all contributed too. Long had the biggest impact, ultimately advancing into the starting lineup for the final game of the trip. He's a matchup nightmare. Long found his most success muscling his way to the basket, and his smooth left hand finish is reminiscent of the way All-MAAC performer Michael Haddix used the glass and scored from tough angles. But his game has a different dimension too. Long can really handle the ball, and he'd often drive into the lane from 3-point line and make good decisions with the basketball. Ogunyemi had 16 points and seven rebounds in his first game as a Saint, and he showed promise inside. As with Long, I was impressed with his ability to finish. Michael Wolfe is extremely athletic. His dunks in warm-ups drew oohs and ahhs from the Canadian fans. He improved throughout the trip and had an impact in the last game, knocking down a three and scoring on a putback after just missing an alley-oop dunk in traffic. Again, we're not going to compare this group to the Class of 2010 just yet, but even without Maurice White (more to follow tomorrow at SienaSaints.com) this group turned heads.

5. Montreal Has a Lot to Offer

The team learned plenty about itself on the court, but as we said from the start, the real value in these trips is the opportunity to bond and experience a new culture together. Who knew the perfect place to do just that was less than four hours north of Siena's campus? Whether it's the proximity of New York and Boston, the language barrier (there really isn't one) or the increased border security (not an issue w/ passport or enhanced license), Montreal is overlooked as a destination that's easily within reach of the Capital Region. It's unlike any city in the United States, with countless ornate churches to tour, a vibrant and unique cultural scene in Old Montreal, the latest designer fashions on Saint Catherine Street, world class restaurants, the cleanest subway system I've ever seen, and a spectacular (albeit overt) nightlife scene. In truth, it feels like you're in Europe and you can be here by noon after a scenic and easy drive through the Adirondacks. Be prepared to walk a lot, but think of it as an opportunity to burn off that gelato. The Saints got to see all the famous sites, and seemed to genuinely enjoy their surroundings. The trip was also good on the wallet too. Siena was originally scheduled to visit France and Italy, a trip that would have cost nearly $100,000 more than this one. It's money that can now be spent to help the program in other ways.

 

Siena 80, Concordia 70 (Postgame Reaction)

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Siena 80, Concordia 70 (Highlights)

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Saints Finish Strong

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Marquis Wright finished an assist shy of a triple-double and Siena's promising Canadian Tour ended with a convincing 80-70 triumph over Concordia College Wednesday night. The Saints complete the trip with a 4-1 record and with plenty of positives to take into the preseason.

Wright's dazzling night featured 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. He dictated tempo and controlled every aspect of the game.

Rob Poole led all players with 23 points, tallying 47 in the final two games of the trip. Poole also finally adjusted to the international 3-point line, making all four of his tries from distance in the first half to help Siena take a 41-27 lead to the lockerroom.

Brett Bisping rounded out Siena's double figure scorers with 10 points in 18 minutes.

Lavon Long scored the first four points of the game and finished with eight in just 19 minutes making his first start of the tour. Long's playing time was limited due to foul trouble for the second straight night.

Siena got solid contributions up and down the roster. Imoh Silas contributed six points and eight rebounds, and freshman Michael Wolfe had five points and five boards in his most active outing this week. Sophomore Rich Audu added seven points, five rebounds and three assists. Audu and classmate Ryan Oliver each had strong weeks.

The Saints had 21 assists and just 15 turnovers using FIFA rules (24 second shot clock), their most efficient effort all week.

Mukiya Post led four Concordia players in double figures with 16 points. The Stingers used a 13-0 run to trim Siena's 21-point second half lead to eight with 1:29 to play, but Bisping and Wright scored the next two baskets to secure the outcome.

 

The Commish

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Siena 81, Brookwood 73 (Postgame Reaction)

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Poole Powers Saints Past Brookwood

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Rob Poole had 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists and Siena made big plays down the stretch in an 81-73 win over Brookwood Club Tuesday night. The Saints trailed 44-41 at halftime and were tested throughout by Brookwood's active press and solid guard play.

The Saints made 28-36 free throws - 11 by Poole and seven by Brett Bisping who ended with 15 points, seven rebounds and five steals. Lavon Long had 12 points before fouling out, rounding out the Saints in double figures. It was the fourth straight strong outing for the freshman forward.

Siena had to play much of the second half without starting point guard Marquis Wright who picked up his fourth foul just a minute into the final stanza. With Evan Hymes sidelined with a broken hand, Poole ran the point and kept things even until Wright returned.

Siena led just 71-70 with 4:02 to play before using an 8-0 run to take command.

Rich Audu and Ryan Oliver each made big plays at the off guard, combining for 13 points and nine rebounds.

Javion Ogunyemi added six points and five rebounds and his putback dunk late in the second half drew the biggest reaction from the sellout crowd of a couple hundred fans.

The Saints conclude their Canadian tour Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Concordia College. 

A Word From Our Host

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Jimmy Patsos Unplugged

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Saintly Spot

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The final stop of Tuesday's tour was Saint Joseph's Oratory at Mount Royal - a church known for healing. The dome towering in the background is some 320 feet high, and is the third largest of its kind in the world (Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro in Côte d'Ivoire and Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome)

Magnifique

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The Saints enjoyed this spectacular view from the summit of Mount Royal - a large park in the Western portion of the city designed by the same architect who designed New York's Central Park.

24 Stanley Cups

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The Siena men's basketball team poses at center ice of the Montreal Forum (now a shopping center). The Forum is called "the most storied building in hockey", and the Canadiens won all 24 of their Stanley Cups here.

Reaction to Queens Win

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(Lavon also wanted to say hello to his mother and let her know he's thing of her)

Siena Blows Out Queens

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Rob Poole scored 19 points to pace Siena's 69-48 win over Queens University (Ontario) Monday night in Montreal. Lavon Long added 13 points and five rebounds and was the catalyst in a decisive 15-3 run early in the game.

Poole and Rich Audu each had four steals as Siena's pressure defense and inside muscle was the difference in the game.  Imoh Silas joined Audu with a team-high seven rebounds. Marquis Wright scored eight points and dished out five assists without a turnover.

It was the first game of the Montreal tour in which NCAA rules were used, and Siena was much more comfortable with the 35-second shot clock.

Ryan Oliver started in place of Evan Hymes who broke his right hand in Sunday's loss at McGill. Hymes was the only member of the traveling party not to see action in Monday's game. He's expected to be sidelined for up to six weeks. Oliver finished with five points, six rebounds and two assists and was the only Saints to convert a 3-pointer (1-2). Siena continued to struggle from distance, shooting just 1-11 for the game, but that was the only blemish in an otherwise thorough effort.

The Saints play their fourth of five games in Montreal Tuesday night against Brookwood Club at 7 p.m.

Evan Hymes Breaks Hand

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Siena guard Evan Hymes broke his right hand (fifth metacarpal) in Sunday's loss to McGill. Preliminary reports from Siena trainer Greg Dashnaw are that Hymes could miss up to six weeks. He will be reevaluated by the sports medicine staff's orthopedic team when the Saints return to campus.  

McGill 74, Siena 72 (Highlights)

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Postgame Reaction From McGill Loss (Patsos and Bisping)

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McGill Gets Siena at Buzzer

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Simon Bibeau lost Marquis Wright with a spin move and nailed the winning 3-pointer from the right wing with just two seconds on the clock as McGill edged Siena 74-72 in an intense affair Sunday in Montreal

"It was a great game, a great learning experience in the heat of battle," Siena coach Jimmy Patsos said.

Lavon Long had given Siena a 72-71 lead with a putback following two missed free throws with 12 seconds to play.

The Saints fell behind 20-8, but used an aggressive pressing defense to claw back in the game.

All 10 Siena players who saw action scored, led by Wright who had 17 points on 18 shots. The Saints shot 50% in the second half after making just 35% of their tries in the first half and made 6-8 3-pointers in the game. Ryan Oliver had nine points on 3-4 shooting from distance.   

Vincent Dufort had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists for McGill. Dufort's 3-pointer with 41 seconds to play put the Redmen up 71-69.

Siena next plays Queens University (Ontario) at 7:30 p.m. Monday night.

Game 2

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The Siena men's basketball team is warming up for its 2 p.m. game against McGill University. The Redmen won the RSEQ (Quebec Athletic) conference last season and posted a 24-10 overall record. The Saints are coming off an 88-78 win over the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) last night. UQAM had a losing record in the RSEQ last season.

 McGill has played two US opponents this week, losing 83-77 to Sacred Heart on Tuesday and 80-40 to Syracuse on Wednesday. The Pioneers and Orange each went undefeated on their Canadian tours (though SU needed OT to hold off national power Carleton 69-65 Friday night).

Same starters as last night for the Saints: Wright (PG), Hymes (SG), Poole (SF), Bisping (PF) and Silas (C).

Follow our twitter page for live game updates, and check back here later this afternoon for a complete recap, highlights and postgame reaction.

Mary, Queen of the World

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The Siena men's basketball team attended mass at Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal this morning. Here, a priest poses for a photo with the team donned in the church's official colors: Green and Gold! The priests were very happy to have the team attend the service. The Saints play at McGill University at 2 p.m.

Highlights from Siena's win Over UQAM

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Siena Postgame Reaction (UQAM Win)

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Siena Wins Opener

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Siena held off a late surge from the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) Saturday night to win the first game of its Foreign Tour 88-78 in Montreal. Freshmen Marquis Wright (19), Javion Ogunyemi  (16) and Lavon Long (13) combined to score 48 of the team's 88 points.

"I thought it was kind of a team win," head coach Jimmy Patsos said. "We had a lot of turnovers because they were pressing us to slow us down, and then we had to run a quick play (because of the 24-second shot clock), but we were being aggressive and trying to make some plays. To score 88 points and still have 25 turnovers was great for us."

Junior Evan Hymes scored the first five points of the game to get Siena off to a fast start. Hymes finished with 16 points, four assists and four rebounds and played almost exclusively off the ball after running the point in his first two years with the program. Wright tied for a game high with 19 points and added six assists in 39 minutes, but he did turn the ball over eight times.

Siena's backcourt proved some firepower, but Ogunyemi and Long made big finishes inside to help solidify the outcome.

After Richard Addai's 4-point play cut the Siena lead (once 15 points) to just 79-78 with 1:28 to play, Long found Imoh Silas for a dunk to ignite a 9-0 Saints' run to end the game. Long ripped a rebound and finished a conventional 3-point play to push the lead to six with 28 seconds left.

Rob Poole rounded out Siena's five double figure scorers with1 2 points despite missing all four of his 3-point tries.

The Saints return to action at 2 p.m. Sunday against McGill University.

Halftime Update

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Siena leads the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) 44-38 at halftime. Freshmen Javion Ogunyemi (8), Marquis Wright (6) and Lavon Long (6) combined for 20 points and eight rebounds. Evan Hymes leads the Sainst with 10 points and made 2-4 3-pointers.

The Saints shot 47% from the field in the first half, including 71% (10-14) in the first quarter.

The teams are playing with FIFA rules. The main differences are: four 10 minute quarters; after the fifth foul in each quarter the other team shoots two shots (no bonus); slightly longer 3-point line; five total timeouts (2 in first half, 3 in second half - all full timeouts.

Overall, Siena played with good energy and aggression. That aggression led to 15 turnovers and some open threes that have kept UQAM within striking distance.

Ten Saints saw action in the first 20 minutes, with nine of those 10 (all but Rich Audu) playing at least six minutes. 

Gameday

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The Siena men's basketball team continued its tour of former Olympic venues Saturday. The Saints made a stop at Montreal's Olympic Stadium after breakfast this morning. The team hits the court for the first time tonight at 6 p.m. at the University of Quebec.

Bienvenue to Montreal

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The Siena men's basketball team arrived safely in Montreal Friday afternoon. The team was given the night to explore the city on their own. The Saints will play the first game of their tour Saturday at 6 p.m. against the University of Quebec. Sunday's game against McGill University has been moved up to a 2 p.m. start. The full game schedule is listed HERE.


Notre Dame Basilica lights up Old Montreal Friday night.

Herb Brooks Arena

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The Siena men's basketball team poses in front of Herb Brooks Arena during its stopover in Lake Place on the way to Montreal. The team enjoyed great weather Thursday evening and Friday morning, and several members even paddled canoes around Mirror Lake.

Siena's Trip Will Be All About Discovery

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That's the title of today's Times Union story by Mark Singelais about Siena's Montreal trip. Mark analyzes five areas that bear watching on the tour. 

Mike MacAdam had his preview of the trip in the Schenectady Gazette today as well.


Jimmy Patsos Previews Montreal Trip

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...And They're Off

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The Siena men's basketball team departed campus for Lake Placid early Thursday afternoon, the first stop on a seven-day tour that makes its way to Montreal Friday.

Head coach Jimmy Patsos said he plans on showing the team the movie "Miracle" on the bus ride north, hoping to provide context for a tour of the historic former Olympic town later in the day.

The team will play five games on the trip, beginning with a 6 p.m. Saturday tip at the University of Quebec. It will be exciting to get an early glimpse at the new-look Saints on the court, but the real value of the trip is expected to come from a week of bonding and new experiences.

The Siena program has undergone a complete metamorphosis in the five months since its disappointing 2012-13 campaign ended in the MAAC quarterfinals. No change has been more dramatic and impactful than the one at the top.

This week provides Patsos the opportunity to begin the rebuilding process and put his stamp on the program before the school year even begins. Throughout his nine-year career at Loyola, Patsos was known for opening his players' eyes to the world outside of basketball. He prides himself in developing young men with character who appreciate their surroundings. What better way to begin his Siena voyage than with an international tour designed to do just that?

We will join up with the team Friday when they make their way north of the border and provide daily updates, photos, game summaries and video interviews from each day of the trip. Please comment below to let us know what you are most looking forward to about this trip, and what information you'd like me to see on this blog the next seven days.

Go Saints!