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

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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.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?