Sunday evening (and afternoon- not to slight the women’s game) the annual Albany Cup between the University at Albany Great Danes and Siena Saints will take place at UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena for the first time in the rivalry’s storied history. Here are my predictions and projections.
Three Keys to the Game:
1- Tune out the crowd- Considering the game is taking place @ SEFCU Arena, there’s going to be a lot of purple and gold in the stands with very little green to go around. Combined with the coziness of the building, the Saints are going to have to keep their heads up and play their brand of basketball.
2- Use everyone- Unlike UAlbany, Siena has a lot of experienced guys whom on any given day can go out and have a career performance. The key is to try and use all of them effectively.
3- Limit the Turnovers- Last year turnovers was the demise of the Saints. This season they appear to have improved, but there’s still some room for improvement. Given Albany’s speed, they can’t afford to give up the ball.
Projected Starting Five: Guard Nico Clareth, Guard Marquis Wright, Forward Lavon Long, Forward Brett Bisping and Forward Javion Ogunyemi.
This would be a fresh new starting five for Siena, considering it will be the first time they’ll have everyone active. The Saints have battled suspensions with Lavon Long and most recently Nico Clareth. The Albany Cup will be Clareth’s first game back from what head coach Jimmy Patsos told Talk 1300(WGDJ/AM) was a “social thing on campus.” According to this Time Union article (hidden behind a paywall), the sophomore guard “can’t wait” for his return to the floor.
Determining who’s going to be a starter or “Key Reserve” with a team like Siena isn’t easy but in addition to the guys above (Projected Starting Five), if the following guys go off Siena can just about ensure a W.
Guard Khalil Richard
Forward Evan Fisher
Guard Ahsante Shivers
Guard Kadeem Smithen
The foursome might not be putting up big numbers on the scoreboard, but they have shown that they can come in and hold their own, giving the stars time to swig down a cup or two of Gatorade.
Prediction: I’ve said it all week, I think the Saints will come out on top 88 to 80 and take the cup back to Loudonville. Could it be more? Could it be less? Absolutely, this is basketball; anything can happen. Check out my counterpart’s preview from the UAlbany angle.