Dec. 6, 2013
Throughout the bulk of Siena's ambitious non-league schedule, new Siena coach Jimmy Patsos stuck to one message: what matters is the MAAC. The Saints will get an early chance to see how they stack up against their conference peers when MAAC play opens tonight at defending regular-season champion Niagara.
"It definitely prepared us," Patsos said of the non-league schedule. "Those were all tough games. But now, what matters is the MAAC. You hope it prepares you, but I wish we had won a few more games."
Siena has won two of its first nine non-league games with a couple close calls. Their biggest chance to add to their total came in the most recent outing when they led Purdue of the Big Ten Sunday for the first 39 minutes and 33 seconds before fading down the stretch.
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"We're ready to go to Buffalo and get some wins," Patsos said.
Siena's led by junior guard Rob Poole who has shot 42% from three-point range and averaged seven rebounds over the last five games. The Saints' leading scorer says the team early-season schedule hasn't fazed the team.
"We have confidence," Poole said. "We've been playing some really, really tough teams the first month of the season. We just have to keep playing hard and play well together."
The Saints have also received a boost from Evan Hymes whose 10.6 points per game are second most on the team. Hymes has reached double figures in six of the last seven games and tied with Poole for a team-high 17 points in Sunday's tough loss.
"Even though our record is not where we want it to be at, with three, four freshman playing a lot of minutes, we're doing fine right now," Hymes said. "It's about putting 40 minutes together. That's what the coaching staff wants us to do, and we have to go out and execute that."
Tonight's game will be televised across New York State on Time Warner Cable Sports. Use the guide on the right of the page to see where it can be viewed in your area. Siena concludes its Western new York swing Sunday at Canisius.