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