Stacey Lauren-Kennedy/ Schenectady Daily Gazette

Siena announces addition of freshman wing Maurice White

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The Siena Saints began a new era of basketball on their trip to Montreal last week, with new head coach Jimmy Patsos coaching the program after spending nine seasons at Loyola (MD). It’s safe to say that Patsos knows turnarounds, as he turned a Greyhound program that won just one game the season before his arrival into a consistent MAAC contender.

The hope amongst the Siena faithful is that Patsos is the man to reverse the Saints’ fortunes, as the program went through three leans seasons following Fran McCaffery’s move to Iowa. The Saints return a few solid contributors from last season’s team, including guard Evan Hymes, and their freshmen will need to contribute immediately as well. Marquis Wright took strides towards becoming the option at point guard, and classmates Lavon Long, Javion Ogunyemi and Michael Wolfe also saw action in Montreal.

And on Friday it was officially announced by the program that another freshman will be joining the program, as 6-3 wing Maurice White has been cleared by the NCAA. As a senior at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, White averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game.

White was originally committed to attend Loyola, but changed his decision after Patsos resigned to take over at Siena. Back with the coach he wanted to play for, White will have an opportunity (as will his classmates) to earn immediate playing time.

How long will the turnaround take? That’s always a tough question to answer, but the fact of the matter is that the hiring of Patsos (who has been one of the MAAC’s biggest promoters over the years) is certainly a step in the right direction. After reaching the NCAA tournament three consecutive seasons Siena has finished below .500 in each of the last three seasons. There will be an adjustment period, and Hymes’ broken hand doesn’t help matters, but don’t expect the Saints to be down for long.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.