National : Shorthanded Siena adjusts game plan to overcome injuries

first_imgDavonte Beard’s abrupt transfer from Siena shocked the already thin Saints basketball team.Averaging 22.7 minutes and 5.2 points per game through the team’s first 10 contests, the freshman was one of just eight healthy, scholarship players on roster.But when Beard transferred, the thin Siena roster got even more depleted.‘Even in this world, where you get guys transferring a lot, it’s something that you never can expect, and you never can prepare for,’ assistant coach Craig Carter said. ‘… But at the same time no one wants to hear you make excuses. You’ve just got to put your nose to the grind and move on.’The Saints (8-9, 3-4 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) did just that, bouncing back from a 1-7 stretch leading up to Beard’s departure with five wins in their next seven games. And they did it almost exclusively with an absurd six-man rotation. Led by senior guard Kyle Downey and the nation’s leading rebounder, junior forward OD Anosike, the shorthanded Saints have turned what was shaping up to be a bleak, drawn-out season into an inspirational campaign.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEvan Hymes, Owen Wignot and Brandon Walters fill out head coach Mitch Buonaguro’s starting lineup, with freshman guard Rob Poole coming off the bench. The six have played a whopping 1,375 of Siena’s last 1,400 minutes.Though the Saints have three other active players, none have impressed Buonaguro enough in practice to earn anything but garbage time.‘I think guys know that with a short bench, they can play,’ Anosike said. ‘They’re not worried about looking over their shoulder or coming out. They’re just playing with extreme confidence no matter if they make a mistake or not.’Even before Beard left, it was clear before the season the starters would be playing extensive minutes. Freshmen Lionel Gomis of Senegal and Nigeria native Imoh Silas are sitting out the year per an NCAA ruling, and sophomore Rakeem Brookins and junior Davis Martens were shelved before the season with injuries.Now, with sophomore forward Trenity Burdine’s return from a foot injury delayed indefinitely, Siena’s six are forced to play the minutes most teams disperse among 10-12 players.But Carter said players are cherishing the opportunity to play close to an entire game, if not the whole 40 minutes.‘I think guys just realize that you’ve got to do a little bit more, and plus none of these guys ever like coming out of the game,’ Carter said. ‘They all like to play as much as they can, and they understand that there’s no excuses to be made.’Though no excuses are being made during the team’s 75-minute practices at the Alumni Recreation Center in Loudonville, N.Y., just outside of Albany, both the players and coaches have had to make adjustments.With only nine healthy bodies, the 42-year-old has been forced to trade his coaching gear for sneakers and shorts. Two decades removed from running the point for Rutgers, Carter is clashing with players half his age every practice.‘We’ve already asked these guys to do a little bit more and that extends to coaches, so everybody has to do a little bit more,’ Carter said. ‘If that means that I have to get on the court and practice so Rob (Poole) can get some reps with the starting team, and so Kyle Downey can take a break here or there, then that’s what we need to do.’The Saints have also needed to change their defensive strategy.Since Beard’s transfer, the Saints have run a 2-3 zone. This allows the players to save energy, puts them in position to start the fast break and helps prevent them from picking up fouls, which they’ve succeeded in all season, Downey said.Siena averages the second-lowest fouls per game in the nation. And it has had to.With only four substitutes, Downey said the players are cognizant to not pick up fouls on the court.‘We’ve been taught so well by our coaches to keep our hands up and make people make tough shots over us instead of bailing them out and putting them on the free-throw line,’ Downey said.But against Rider on Jan. 12, Downey fouled out with 5:09 left in regulation with the Saints leading 74-59. Battered and already exhausted, the remaining five attempted to withstand a frenetic, late-game run by the Broncos.With 1:56 left, the lead was down to four.While Downey watched anxiously from the bench, his replacement Poole knocked down 6-of-8 crucial free throws in the final 1:35 to stave off Rider.‘It was frustrating just because our team as a whole wasn’t playing very well,’ Downey said. ‘We were kind of letting them back in the game, but I was very confident in Rob Poole coming off the bench and playing solid.’With 11 conference games left on its schedule, starting with a trip to Loyola (Md.) on Thursday, Siena has a chance to continue its climb from the cellar of the MAAC standings. At 3-4, the Saints are currently in a four-way tie for fifth.The return of Burdine, who was originally slated to debut Dec. 28 at Florida Atlantic, would help alleviate the heavy workload the Saints’ legs are bearing.For the time being, the six players will continue to do their best to fill the void expanded by Beard’s transfer.‘I think we just have to continue doing what we’ve been doing,’ Anosike said. ‘We’ve just got to keep playing the zone well, rebounding under the zone, running, executing and just trying to stay fresh late in games.’Game of the weekNo. 3 Baylor (17-1, 4-1 Big 12) vs. No. 5 Missouri (17-1, 4-1 Big 12), Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPNThe Bears won their first 17 games of the season, but they were thoroughly outplayed by Kansas and star forward Thomas Robinson on Monday, suffering their first defeat. The freshman torched Baylor with 27 points and 14 rebounds to propel KU to victory.Luckily for BU forward Perry Jones III and company, the Tigers most prominent threat around the basket is senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe, who averages 13.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. An adequate challenge, but his 6-foot-8, 240-pound frame pales in comparison to Robinson’s. Missouri’s starting backcourt of Marcus Denmon and Kim English are first and second on the team in scoring with 17.8 and 14.6 points per game, respectively.Saturday’s winner will improve to 5-1 in the Big 12 and seize sole possession of second place in the conference standings, behind only 5-0 Kansas. Published on January 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Stephen: | @Stephen_Bailey1 Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img read more

Bucks in six? All eyes toward playoffs in Milwaukee

first_imgThe Milwaukee Bucks currently sit as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference just one game ahead of the No. 7 Heat. With two games remaining in the NBA season, the Bucks are locked into a playoff spot. The only question is — where?The Bucks, Heat and Wizards are all within 1.5 games of each other, jockeying for position in the six through eight seeds of the Eastern Conference. Despite such a close race, Milwaukee is locked into a six or seven seed because of tiebreakers with the Wizards.Milwaukee’s path to the playoffs has been filled with twists and turns, from star guard Giannis Antetokounmpo being in the early MVP conversation to head coach Jason Kidd being fired midseason.At the time, Kidd’s January firing seemed to ignite a spark with the team as the Bucks went 7–1 in the first eight games under interim head Coach Joe Prunty. This was short lived — the team has gone 15–14 since their eight-game hot stretch.March Madness: Villanova, DiVincenzo dismiss Michigan for national titleSitting atop the College Basketball world for the second time in three seasons, Villanova University defeated the University of Michigan Read…If the Bucks remain at No. 6, they will face off against the Philadelphia 76ers in a first round matchup versus a fellow up and coming team. The Sixers are the hottest team in the NBA right now and are currently on a 14-game win streak despite the loss of star center Joel Embiid to a facial fracture and concussion last week. If Embiid is back for round one the combination of him and projected Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons make Milwaukee’s chances look grim in this potential matchup.The Boston Celtics have the No. 2 seed locked up in the playoffs. But after an injury to Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving there is a race for the seven seed at the bottom of the playoff standings. The Bucks would be fortunate to fall one spot in the standings and secure a matchup against an inexperienced team without their best player.The final team the Bucks might play are the Cleveland Cavaliers who are currently at the No. 4 seed but can move up to No. 3. This could be a nightmare matchup for any team in the first round as they will have to go through LeBron James.  Despite the Cavs well-documented struggles this year, James will still be vying for his eighth straight NBA Finals appearance and has proven he can escalate his team to another level come playoff time.Men’s basketball: Badgers look ahead after frustrating yearUniversity of Wisconsin’s men’s basketball team’s streak of 19 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances ended last Friday with their elimination from Read…Though Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe have been reliable options this year, the Bucks have taken steps back in other areas of the roster. Thon Maker, who looked like a future All-Star last year, now sits third in the depth chart behind John Henson and Tyler Zeller. Though he’s been impressive when healthy, last season’s Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon has been out the past two months with a quad injury before returning last night against Orlando.But an interesting move the Bucks made recently was to giving Brandon Jennings a multiyear contract last week. Jennings is probably most famous for making the declaration “Bucks in six” in the 2013 NBA playoffs before facing — and ultimately getting swept by — the Miami Heat super team of James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.Jennings was impressive to begin his second stint with the Bucks, notching a near triple-double with a 16-point, 12-assist and eight-rebound game versus the Grizzlies. But after this hot start, Jennings cooled down, scoring double digits in points only once in the 14 games following his debut.Ohio State ends win streak for Badger men’s tennis, focus now shifts to Big Ten TournamentAfter an up-and-down start to the year, the University of Wisconsin men’s tennis team is starting to find its feet Read…While some may remember the “Brandon Jennings and Bucks in Six” era as one of disappointment, there was also hope. And in a sports year where backup quarterbacks can become Superbowl MVPs, why can’t Brandon Jennings hit a big shot to help the Bucks win a playoff game or series? Maybe even in game six.The Bucks last regular season game will be Wednesday, April 11 against the 76ers from Philadelphia at 7 p.m. CT.last_img read more

Transfer rumours and paper review – Thursday, January 1

first_imgHere’s the top transfer-related stories in Thursday’s newspapers…Manchester United hope to sign Seamus Coleman in the January window in a deal that would be worth at least £20m to Everton. United believe it is more likely the right-back can be bought in the summer but are exploring what would represent the considerable coup of acquiring the 26-year-old immediately. (The Guardian)Alan Pardew wants at least three new players to join him in Crystal Palace’s survival fight. The incoming Eagles boss has earmarked Swansea striker Bafetimbi Gomis as his his top target, but Aston Villa misfit Darren Bent is also under consideration. (Daily Star)Tony Pulis has been promised a January transfer fund by West Brom – and is weighing up a move for Peter Crouch. Pulis is set to be announced as Albion’s new head coach on Thursday, to succeed the sacked Alan Irvine, and wants to be reunited with the Stoke striker. (Daily Mirror)Chelsea are poised to complete the £7m signing of Croatian striker Andrej Kramaric and will send him straight on loan to Vitesse Arnhem. (Daily Telegraph)Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins insists the club have received no bids for Chelsea and Manchester City target Wilfried Bony. (Daily Star)Arsenal have been dealt a blow in their attempts to sign a new midfielder in the January transfer window after Legia Warsaw rejected their opening bid for the highly-rated youngster Krystian Bielik. (Metro)And here’s the latest headlines…Exclusive – Boost for Liverpool and Tottenham! West Brom starlet available for just £14mExclusive – Klopp perfect replacement for Pardew at Newcastle, claims former managerExclusive – Pardew a poor man-manager, claims former playerI’m staying at AC Milan! Liverpool target rubbishes transfer talkLiverpool transfer report: PSG will NOT allow Lavezzi to leave in JanuaryMove on Man United! Bale joins Perez in rubbishing Real Madrid exit talkAC Milan tell defensive star to forget about Manchester United moveShelvey staying put at Swansea, insists Monk, as Pardew lines up Palace bidUruguayan starlet ready to snub Man United for Arsenal moveArsenal and Liverpool transfer target to stay at Lyon, says club presidentEverton transfer boost? PSG midfielder hints at January moveNewcastle outcast set for Genoa switchlast_img read more