Tuesday, December 23, 2014

News and Notes: Tuesday Edition

Below, news and notes...

Gameday Central: Cornell at Siena (TWCSC at 7 PM)
Dec. 22, 2014
Tickets | Watch | Listen | Live/Mobile Stats | Siena Notes | Cornell Notes | Courtside Updates Siena basketball is home for the holidays. The Saints play five of their next six games at the friendly confines of Times Union Center, starting with Tuesday night's clash with Cornell.
The game will be televised live across New York State on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel. Use the links above to purchase tickets, or follow the action from wherever you may be.
Here's 10 Things You Need to Know About the Saints Heading Into Tuesday Night's Game:
1) Siena is expecting its 2-millionth fan at Times Union Center Tuesday night. The Saints have drawn 1,998,121 fans in their 302 games at the Times Union Center, an average of 6,616 per game, and just 1,879 shy of two million.
2) Siena dressed just eight scholarship players in Friday night's loss at Radford. Leading rebounded Lavon Long missed the game with a sprained ankle and is doubtful Tuesday night.
3) Siena has had 10 turnovers or fewer in six of its last seven games. The Saints have had turnovers on just 15% of their possessions this season, the seventh lowest percentage in the nation.
4) The Saints had 26 offensive rebounds in their loss at Radford Friday night, their most in a game since corralling 29 in an 87-60 loss to Memphis in last year's Old Spice Classic (11/28/13).
5) Siena has lost three straight games. The Saints have not lost four straight games since last year's Old Spice Classic. Siena was 2-7 through nine games last year and then won 18 of its last 29 games.
6) Marquis Wright leads the MAAC in assists (5.2) and assist/turnover ratio (2.6). Wright is second in the MAAC in steals (2.0/game) and fifth in minutes (35.8).
7) Siena plays five of its next six games at Times Union Center. The Saints have played six of their first nine games on the road.
8) Siena is second in the MAAC and 43rd in the nation with 74.9 points per game. The Saints have made 18.8 free throws per game, the 11th most in the nation. Siena has allowed 76.6 points per game, the 27th most in the country.
9) Siena is averaging 24.6 fouls per game, the second most in the country (Wagner - 25.8).
10) Junior Brett Bisping will be out until at least February after injuring his toe in the Quinnipiac win. The Preseason Third Team All-MAAC selection started 37 straight games before missing the last two games.
Siena returns to action at the Times Union Center on Tuesday night to take on Cornell. Tip off is scheduled for 7 pm. It is the fifth meeting between the two teams with Siena leading the series, 3-1. In their meeting last season, Imoh Silas had 14 rebounds and a career-high 17 points including a put-back basket with 6.5 seconds to go, to help the Saints pull out a 71-70 comeback victory.
Siena enters the game with a record of 3-6 following a 76-66 loss at Radford on Friday. It was their third straight loss. The already short-handed Saints were without sophomore Patrick Cole who had been suspended indefinitely earlier in the day, as well as sophomore starter Lavon Long due to an ankle injury. Long remains doubtful for Tuesday night, leaving Siena with just eight available scholarship players.
The Saints have struggled as of late but hope to turn things around with a lot of basketball yet to be played, much as they did last season when they went on to win twenty games after starting the season 2-7. After playing 6 of their first 9 games on the road, 5 of the next 6 are at home.
Siena is led in scoring by senior Rob Poole, a preseason All-MAAC First team selection who is averaging 14.0 points per game. Poole has moved up to number 27 all-time in scoring (1,228) at Siena behind Antoine Jordan (1,232) and Mike Catino (1,238). Evan Hymes is number 32 (1,114) behind Tommy Mitchell (1,115).
Sophomore point guard Marquis Wright is having a solid second season as a Saint. He is second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.8 points. He leads the MAAC in assists (5.2) and assist/turnover ratio (2.6). He is second in the MAAC in steals averaging 2.0. Wright has moved up to number 19 all-time at Siena in assists with 246 in just 47 games. He is just behind Marcus Faison (257 in 119 games). Evan Hymes is currently number 13 (323 in 108 games) behind Kenny Hasbrouck (331 in 129 games).
Siena ranks second in the MAAC and 43rd nationally in scoring with an average of 74.9 points per game. They have steadily increased their scoring output over the last two seasons after averaging 69.3 last season and just 60.0 the year before.
Already thin in the front court minus Long as well as Imoh Silas and Brett Bisping due to injury, the Saints had another scare on Monday in practice when freshman forward Willem Brandwijk reportedly broke his nose and damaged his front teeth after hitting the floor in practice. Coach Patsos said on Monday night he is expected to play however on Tuesday.
The Saints are counting on continued improvement from sophomore big man Javion Ogunyemi who is coming off  a 10-point and 8 rebound performance vs. Radford. He is averaging 6.8 points and 3.1 rebounds so far this season after averaging 1.9 points and 1.8 boards as a freshman.
Siena will be celebrating their 2 millionth fan at the Times Union Center on Tuesday night. They are just 1,879 shy of reaching the milestone. The Saints have drawn 1,998,121 fans in their 302 games at the Times Union Center, an average of 6,616 per game. They hold a 204-98 (.675) all-time record at the TU Center and have ranked in the top-100 nationally in attendance each year since moving downtown full time in 1997-98.
Cornell enters the game with a record of 5-5 following a 74-61 loss to Radford on Sunday, the same team Siena lost to two days before. The Big Red finished last season with a record of 2-26 overall.
Cornell is led by 6-7 forward Shonn Miller, an All-Ivy  selection who leads the team in scoring (15.2), rebounding (7.5), steals (1.3) and blocks (1.8). He missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. Robert Hatter, a 6-2 sophomore guard, is second in scoring for the Big Red with 13.0 points per game. 6-2 senior guard Galal Cancer, a local product from nearby CBA who sat out last season, is also in double figures averaging 11.0 points.

Cornell 2014-2015 Results:
14 at George Mason………………………………………..W, 68-60
16 at Loyola (MD)……………………………………………. L, 71-76
18 COLGATE…………………………………………W, 58-52
20  vs. South Carolina …………………………… L, 45-69
21  vs. Penn State ………………………………… L, 71-72
23  vs. Drexel ………………………………………. L, 59-61
26 CANISIUS………………………………………..W, 67-60
29 at Binghamton…………………………………………..W, 68-54
6 UMASS-LOWELL………………………………..W, 71-60
21 at Radford…………………………………………..L, 74-61
  • On Tuesday's game at Siena, the Albany Times Union notes that Siena is down to 8 scholarship players.  Well, that's 8 more scholarship players than Cornell has on its roster.
  • On Tuesday's game at Siena, the Albany Times Union writes, "...First up is Cornell, a team that went 2-26 last year but has already won five games this season to go along with five losses. The key has been the return of All-Ivy selection Shonn Miller, who leads the team in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocks. He missed last year with a shoulder injury.  Also returning after a year away from the team is CBA product Galal Cancer. Cancer is the team’s third-leading scorer at 11 points per game.  I have to admit I was a bit surprised when I went to Cornell’s website to see who their new men’s basketball coach was. I figured they had fired the head coach after the two-win debacle, but sure enough, Bill Courtney is back for his fifth season. Thus far, he’s rewarding that decision with a much-improved year.  Tom and I will be on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel for both the Cornell and Bucknell games this week. Hope you’ll tune in."
Cancer back in area to take on Siena
CBA graduate rejoins Cornell's squad and looks forward to visit
CBA graduate Galal Cancer walked away from the Cornell men's basketball team last season.
He observed from the stands as the Big Red staggered through the most losses in program history. They finished 2-26.
"That was the thing that hurt the most, watching that my classmates and kids I came in with suffered through a season like that and me knowing that I could have helped," Cancer said.
He said that pain helped prod his return to the Big Red for his senior year. The 6-foot-2 guard is averaging 11 points per game for improved Cornell (5-5), which plays Siena (3-6) at Times Union Center on Tuesday night in Cancer's homecoming.
The Albany native expects family, friends and CBA coach Dave Doemel to be among those in attendance.
"I think it's a great feeling," Cancer said. "That, above all, is probably the most precious thing about coming back right now."
Cancer played at Times Union Center several times as a high school star while CBA won three Section II championships and a state title.
"They've got four really good players and he's one of them," Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos said of Cornell. "And he's a local player, so he'll want to play well."
It seemed in doubt whether Cancer would ever suit up for Cornell again when he decided not to play his junior year. At the time, he cited the standard "personal reasons."
More specifically, Cancer said his leave was mainly to concentrate on academics because he had taken a small load of courses his first two seasons and was flirting with not having enough credits to graduate on time. Cancer said he was still doing well enough to be academically eligible.
"I talked to various people around me that support me and I had to make a decision that I thought would be best so I had to step away and focus on school and get that to a point where I liked," he said. "Coach (Bill Courtney) gave me an opportunity to play this year, so after talking with him, I came back to the team."
Cancer also indicated he wasn't happy with the direction his basketball career was taking. As a sophomore, he averaged 5.7 points off the bench for a team that went 13-18.
"I think personally it was just to sit back, relax and calm my mind," he said. "I was frustrated a lot of the time with basketball and things like that."
He didn't give up the sport during his time off. He frequently played in pickup games and put himself through two-to-three-hour workouts three or four times a week. He tried to improve his jump shot, and while he's shooting only 39.2 percent from the field this season, he is converting 9 of 21 (42.9 percent) from 3-point range.
He'd watch NBA and college games on television to try to add to his own skill set.
"I think many people didn't understand the time I was putting in basketball-wise," Cancer said.
He grew tired of repeatedly explaining to people why he departed from the team and whether he was planning on transferring.
However, Cancer said the year off did benefit him.
"I've seen the ups and downs," he said. "I think I'm more prepared mentally for whatever's possible at this point. Nothing can really get to me. It's about going out and performing to the best of my ability every game. I've been through it all."
He's on schedule to graduate with a degree in applied economics advancement. With a year of eligibility left after this one, he still is deciding his future.
The Ivy League doesn't allow graduate students to play, so Cancer might transfer to another school for his final year. Otherwise, he could attempt to play overseas or pursue a career outside of basketball.
Note: Siena freshman forward Willem Brandwijk appeared to chip two front teeth when he hit the court face-first during Monday's practice. Patsos said he thinks Brandwijk will play against Cornell.
Siena vs. Cornell
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Times Union Center, Albany
TV/radio: TWCS (Ch. 50 & 323), WGDJ (1300 AM)
    • Centre Daily writes, "Penn State (12-1) picked up its most decisive win of the season to finish a nonconference run defined by close calls. The win streak started Nov. 21 with a one-point win over Cornell on a game-winning layup at the buzzer by Newbill and featured seven games decided by six or fewer points." 
    • Duke Basketball Report writes, "Syracuse pretty much always plays Cornell - it's about the same as going from Durham to Winston-Salem so it's a neighborhood game - and Syracuse almost always wins."  The Post Standard notes, "Syracuse is 6-4 for the first time since the 1996-97 season. The Orange must win its final three non-conference games against Colgate, Long Beach State and Cornell before opening ACC play against Virginia Tech on Jan. 3."  The Post Standard also notes, "Syracuse will host Long Beach State on Sunday and then close out the year with a New Year's Eve game against Cornell." 
    • Real GM writes, "Would you rather be a fan of Penn St. (11-1, Kenpom #92) or South Carolina (7-3, Kenpom #34)?  Both teams were picked near the cellars of their leagues. My preseason projection model liked both teams a little more than most experts because both teams had veteran rosters. Oddly despite three losses, the margin-of-victory numbers love South Carolina right now. That’s because South Carolina’s wins have all come by huge margins, particularly against Oklahoma St. and Clemson in recent weeks. Penn St., on the other hand is 7-0 in games decided by 6 points or less, and has snuck by some teams (Cornell, Duquesne, USC, Virginia Tech) that aren’t very good yet. I love DJ Newbill in close game situations. He is brilliant at getting to the line or getting a lay-up. But no team wins every close game." 
    •  The Ivy League announced its weekly awards:

      Week 1, 11/17/14-Shonn Miller, Cornell
      Week 2, 11/24/14-Justin Sears, Yale
      Week 3, 12/1/14-Wes Saunders, Harvard
      Week 4, 12/8/14-Javier Duren, Yale
      Week 5, 12/15/14-Cedric Kuakumensah, Brown*
      Week 6, 12/22/14-Maodo Lo, Columbia

      Week 1, 11/17/14-Antonio Woods, Penn
      Week 2, 11/24/14-Mike Auger, Penn
      Week 3, 12/1/14-Amir Bell, Princeton
      Week 4, 12/8/14-Darnell Foreman, Penn
      Week 5, 12/15/14-Sam Jones, Penn*
      Week 6, 12/22/14-Kyle Castlin, Columbia
      * = Cornell idle

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