Two-time Super Bowl champion head coach Bill Parcells visits Siena practice

Leave a comment

College practices tend to attract high-profile visitors on occasion, and the Siena Saints received a surprise on Saturday morning as two-time Super Bowl champion head coach Bill Parcells was in attendance.

Apparently Parcells wanted to catch up with one Saint in particular: senior power forward O.D. Anosike, who waited on Parcells’ table at Saratoga race track on multiple occasions during the summer.

Anosike, like other Siena basketball players over the years according to Steve Amedio of Keepin’ Track of the MAAC, worked as a waiter at Saratoga in order to earn some extra money during the summer.

But Parcells didn’t show up simply to see how Anosike was doing, as he also gave the team a speech at the end of practice.

“That was great, and he also stayed for the whole practice,” said head coach Mitch Buonaguro, who said that his players were “riveted” when Parcells spoke to them.

“He gave a nice message about making sure the players are committed to each other and committed to winning,” added the Siena coach. “He was really good. He spoke for about five minutes. It was a thrill for me, too, to meet him and be able to talk to him.”

With Anosike (15.0 ppg, 12.5 rpg), the nation’s reigning rebounding champion, leading the way the Saints and their fans hope that the 2012-13 campaign goes better than last season.

One big reason why it can: the Saints finally have some depth. Buonaguro essentially had six players he could rely on last season, and while Siena played hard every night the lack of bodies caught up to them in a 14-17 (8-10 MAAC) season.

Siena did lose three of those six players (guard Kyle Downey and forwards Brandon Walters and Owen Wignot), but in Anosike and point guard Evan Hymes (13.4 ppg, 3.7 apg) the Saints welcome back their top two scorers.

Anosike will receive front court help from sophomores Lionel Gomis and Imoh Silas, who were expected to contribute last season until the NCAA ruled them ineligible, and Trenity Burdine returns after missing the 2012-13 season due to a foot injury.

On the perimeter Siena welcomes back Rob Poole and Rakeem Brookins, who redshirted last season due to a back injury, and freshmen Rich Audu and Ryan Oliver are also capable of earning playing time.

With the number of bodies at Buonaguro’s disposal Siena should field an improved team this season, but a major climb up the MAAC standings could prove difficult given the talent at the top of the conference.

At the very least Siena will be armed with a full compliment of players able to contribute, something that couldn’t be said in 2011-12.

Photo credit: Cindy Schultz/Albany Times-Union

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Skal Labissiere has not been cleared by the NCAA

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armor
Leave a comment

While the timeline surrounding Cheick Diallo’s eligibility has made headlines for months now, another elite recruit at a blue blood program is still awaiting word on whether or not he will be allowed to play college basketball this season.

Kentucky center Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has not yet been cleared to play this season. His guard, Gerald Hamilton, confirmed as much to ESPN earlier today.

“Not yet,” Hamilton said. “We’re just trying to get everything squared away. They are asking a few questions.

“They haven’t cleared him, but we’re sticking with our faith. There’s no real concern about anything from the Kentucky compliance people.”

Labissiere has more red flags than you can count, almost all of them pertaining to Hamilton. It was the worst kept secret in high school basketball that Hamilton more or less had Labissiere for sale. It’s why he played three different AAU programs and two different high schools in four years. Hamilton runs a non-profit called Reach Your Dream and, after a transfer rendered him ineligible for his senior high school season, Labissiere played for a team called ‘Reach Your Dream Prep’, which Hamilton founded simply to ensure Labissiere had a place to play.

Here’s how summarized things back in November:

Multiple coaches who have recruited Labissiere told Hamilton either directly indicated or strongly suggested pursuing Labissiere would mostly be a waste of time if they couldn’t offer assistance in helping fund his foundation. One coach from a prominent staff said: “We couldn’t even get in the door.” Another added: “We recognized what it was about early on and decided not to get involved.”

In other words, no one is surprised that the NCAA is looking into Labissiere’s situation, and it’s not hard to look at Kentucky bringing in Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard as a sign that they’re not completely certain that Labissiere will make it through this. The surprise is in how quiet that investigation has been over the course of the last few months.

The shame in all of this is that Labissiere is a sweet kid with an incredible back-story. He survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti despite having a house collapse on him. If he can get through this investigation, he’ll easily be one of the biggest and most likeable stars in the sport this season.

Xavier commit to enroll early, redshirt

Getty Images
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Xavier landed a commitment on Wednesday from four-star big man Eddie Ekiyor, a source confirmed to

Ekiyor, who picked the Musketeers over Miami and Florida, is a borderline top 100 recruit. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 post that shouldn’t have an issue adjusting to the pace and physicality of the game, although he needs to continue to develop offensively to be more than a catch-and-dunk big man down the road.

In other words, on paper, Ekiyor isn’t much different from the majority of high major big men. But what’s different about this situation is that Ekiyor will be enrolling at Xavier for the start of the spring semester, technically making him a member of the Class of 2015. Xavier won’t be rushing him through the process — he’ll redshirt the second half of the 2015-16 season — but getting him on campus early will allow him an extra six months of learning the Xavier system, developing in collegiate practices and working out with the Xavier strength coaches.

That should help him limit the adjustment phase as he transitions from high school. That’s important for the Musketeers, because there’s a chance that they could lose their starting front line — James Farr (graduation) and Jalen Reynolds (early entry) — after this season.