Siena has closed in on its recruiting class which appears to be a three man class of Richard Audu, Brett Bisping and Ryan Oliver to create depth on a roster that played as few as six scholarship players late in the season.
Siena Head Coach Mitch Buonaguro said that the top three weaknesses Siena addressed in the offseason were perimeter shooting, mistakes with turnovers and overall depth. Buonaguro said that it was key to address the depth issue in this years recruiting class.
“We need to make sure that we have enough guys that if somebody goes down that we can sustain a good level of play,” Buonaguro said. “I think now we’re now a deep team we have 12 scholarship kids right now and if they all stay healthy I think that’s enough to compete pretty well in the league.”
The additions of Audu, Bisping and Oliver were key to Siena whose roster will be bolstered by returns from injury by Rahkeem Brookins, Trenity Burdine and Davis Martens as well as getting Lionel Gomis and Imoh Silas eligible to play this coming season.
Another priority Siena worked to fill in recruiting was their weakness in perimeter shooting. Siena shot 31.2% from three point range in conference play, ranking last in the MAAC last season.
“They’re all guys that can make shots that definitely fills a hole we’ve had the last two years, we haven’t been a great three-point shooting team,” Buonaguro said. “That was one of the things we wanted to address.”
Siena assistant coach Tobin Anderson said that the class of incoming Saints will help shore up the roster.
“They’re definitely going to fill some holes and what we’re looking for from a basketball standpoint,” Anderson said. “All three guys can shoot and know how to play with high basketball IQs.”
Buonaguro said that he expects Oliver to get a lot of open looks when he plays with the combination of Evan Hymes and Brookins at the point and shooting guard spots, respectively.
“He’s not really a guy that’s going to blow by you on the dribble but I think he knows how to play, get shots, get open and with the two guards that we have he’s a valuable player because I think he’s going to get some open looks with Rahk and Evan penetrating,” Buonaguro said. “What I really like about him is his ability to make threes.”
Anderson said that Bisping will have the opportunity to take pressure off of likely MAAC Player of the Year candidate O.D. Anosike with his versatile play.
“I think Brett’s really going to help from the standpoint of taking pressure off of O.D. because he can really shoot the ball and he knows how to play,” Anderson said. “With him you have to guard him out on the perimeter a little bit which is going to help open the floor up for us.”
Buonaguro said that, with the current constructed roster, Siena’s starting five would consist of Evan Hymes, Rahkeem Brookins, Rob Poole, Imoh Silas and O.D. Anosike. Buonaguro said they key roster battle will be for the starting small forward spot in the fall.
“Evan and Rahk at the one and two, and at the three I’d have to say Rob Poole because he’s coming off a year where he played a lot of minutes but we’ve got a lot of depth at that position,” Buonaguro said. “I’d say off the top of my head: Hymes-Brookins-Poole-Silas and Anosike.”
Buonaguro said he thinks a combination of Hymes and Brookins, at the point and shooting guard spots respectively, will work very well.
“People have said well defensively we’re going to be small but you also have to look at the problems they’re going to create, guarding them,” Buonaguro said. “Both of them can go off the dribble, score and make threes. They can be a nightmare for teams guarding them also, and our other three guys are pretty big. I think they’re going to work well together.”
Brookins played the shooting guard spot in high school when he was teammates with point guard Maalik Wayns who now plays at Villanova.
Buonaguro and Anderson both said that fans will be watching a team that plays at a significantly faster pace than last year’s team.
“The backcourt will be fun with Rahk and Evan playing together,” Anderson said. “We’ll be a unique team from the standpoint of having two really really good post players and two really quick penetrating guards and a bunch of guys on the wings, like Rob Poole and Trenity and the guys that are coming in that could make plays.”
Siena has one scholarship available, which Buonaguro said they are considering using it if the fit is right.
Buonaguro said the Saints roster, which will have have 7 players in their sophomore season during the 2012-13 school year, would be a factor in any other players they are considering adding to the team via transfer or later in the recruiting season.
“Right now we’re a little unbalanced,” Buonaguro said of a group that will include 10 players in their freshman or sophomore year next season. “Maybe a transfer in that senior class but I don’t want to burden that one class with eight kids, I want to be careful.”
“We’re evaluating,” Buonaguro said. “I think we’re considering using it.”
Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com has linked Pitt transfer Isaiah Epps and Hawaii transfer Shaquille Stokes as potential transfers that have interest in Siena.
“If he’s going to transfer to Siena he better be pretty good and he better be able to help the team and be productive,” Buonaguro said about the prospect of taking on a transfer with Siena’s final scholarship.
The Siena staff said that with such a young roster and so few scholarships to give out next season, the Saints will be able to be selective in who they bring in for the recruiting class of 2013.