LOUDONVILLE– As head coach Jimmy Patsos put it during his press conference Friday, “the future is here” for the Siena men’s basketball team.
After a disappointing end to the 2016-2017 season that saw them fall a point short of the NCAA Tournament, this year’s squad is young and energetic and looking to have a strong regular season that puts them deep into the MAAC Tournament.
The Saints have a tough nonconference schedule for this season that includes three teams that played in the NCAA Tournament last March in Florida Gulf Coast, Vermont and Louisville as well as traditional powerhouse Memphis. They also play crosstown rival UAlbany and St. Bonaventure out of the Atlantic 10 as part of a 13-game nonconference schedule. Jimmy Patsos says that he believes that Siena has the toughest nonconference schedule in the MAAC this season.
Siena has five freshmen on this year’s team, the most since the 2013-2014 season. A big part of that freshman class with be Prince Oduro, a 6’8” forward from our neighbors to the north. Oduro was part of the Canadian U19 team that took the gold medal in the FIBA tournament in Egypt this summer. Oduro averaged 6.6 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game in that tournament. He will see significant time for the Saints this year as he works on his mid-range shooting game and looking to be an all-around threat during his career.
Oduro didn’t begin playing organized basketball until he was in 9th grade, impressively going from having never played with a team to Division I in four years.
“I always liked basketball, but it wasn’t really a game that I really pursued, but then I had an opportunity on an AAU team, so that got me going,” Oduro explained.
Another freshman of the team is all-around talent Manny Camper. Camper underwent knee surgery in August and was initially expected to miss all of the season, but it now set to return within the first week of the season.
“Just coming out and working hard every day,” Camper said. “To play D1, to contribute to the team in any way possible.”
As some offseason work, the team went to Montreal in August to help prepare for the season.
“I really like our team. I thought Montreal was a great trip to prepare us for the tough (nonconference) schedule. Thanks to (athletic director) John D’Argenio getting it together for us to go to Montreal. We played three games, we were fortunate enough to go 2-1. Really good competition, great cultural trip for us,” Patsos said of the team traveling to Montreal.
The team’s captains for the year will be juniors Nico Clareth and Kevin Degnan. Clareth has been a star for the Saints in two years at the school, averaging 13.4 points per game, and has started 13 games over the course of his two seasons in green and gold.
“It means the world,” Clareth said of him being named a team captain for this season.
The Saints will open the 2017-2018 season in South Carolina on Friday, November 10, as they take on the Cougars of the College of Charleston. They will hold their home opener three days later on Monday, November 13, as they face the Atlantic Sun’s Florida Gulf Coast at the Times Union Center. Both games will begin at 7 p.m.