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.