Tuesday, October 29, 2013

FCS Top 25 - Oct. 28

The top teams are separating themselves from the pack.

Only one of the Top 10 teams lost this past weekend and the playoff picture is starting to come into focus.

Here is the latest Top 25 poll from The Sports Network.

While I don't have a lot of teams in the exact position, the poll has them, every team I have is within five spots of where they appear in the poll, including William & Mary, which is the third team receiving votes. The biggest difference I have is Southeast Louisiana, which I have at 20 and appears in the poll at 25

As for UAlbany's league, five of the CAA teams are ranked (I ranked six) and three others (for some unknown reason, someone is ranking Stony Brook, which dropped to 3-4, with a loss to New Hampshire) are receiving votes. The Great Danes were off this past week, but travel to Richmond this weekend.

My ballot is located below. The number in the (xx) is if the team is located in a different spot in the poll than I have them on my ballot. 

1. North Dakota State
2. Eastern Illinois
3. Montana State (5)
4. McNeese State
5. Eastern Washington (3)
6. Maine (10)
7. Fordham (9)
8. Coastal Carolina (6)
9. Towson (7)
10. Sam Houston State (8)
Read more »

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Friday, October 25, 2013

VIDEOS: Siena Madness

The second Siena Madness event took place on Thursday evening at the ARC, on Siena's campus.

The event was pretty well attended and it was exciting to see the men's team compete against each other for a little while in a 10-minute scrimmage.

Read more »

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

UAlbany women at No. 22 in Mid-Major poll

The University at Albany women's basketball program was picked first in the America East preseason poll.

The two-time defending league champions also are receiving some nationally recognition. The Great Danes are ranked No. 22 in the first CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.

UAlbany has finished 50-14 over the past two seasons under coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. Despite, losing some key pieces, they are expected to keep rolling along.

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Williams at Siena; Indians become Saints

As noted below, former Maryland coach Gary Williams stopped by Siena practice on Tuesday.

Williams gave current Saints coach Jimmy Patsos his first coaching gig, two decades ago, as an assistant with the Terrapins.

Also in Wednesday's paper, columnist Steve Amedio tackles the issue of mascot names, taking us back to when Siena went from the Indians to the Saints.

The issue is of course in the news, as people call for the changing of the Washington football franchise's nickname.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gary Williams stops by Siena to talk Patsos

There may be only a few people who know the real Jimmy Patsos.

Beyond the character of the coach that jumps up and down on the sidelines and behind the public person who can sometimes overshadow his professional resume is a coach who has succeeded everywhere he's been.

One of the people who may know Patsos best is former Maryland coach Gary Williams. Patsos worked with Williams for 13 years with the Terrapins, winning a national title together in 2002 (and beating Rob Lanier's Siena club along the way).

Williams was in the Capital District on Monday and stopped by Siena's practice on Tuesday.

"I think Jimmy looks at the challenge to get (the program) where it was," said Williams.

Patsos left Williams in 2004, to take the head job at Loyola (Md.) and was with the Greyhounds the past nine seasons.

When he took over at Loyola, the team had one just one game, a far cry from the tradition-rich program that Siena is. The Saints have been down for the past few seasons, but when they are good, there's no question it's the best coaching job to have in the MAAC because the crowds are big and the Capital District is swept up in the program and the team.

When Athletic Director John D'Argenio hired Patsos, I'm sure he was thinking that Patsos would be a great guy to sell people on the program's revival.

"If there's a guy who can get the community involved with a team, Jimmy's that guy," Williams said.

Patsos turned that 1-win program around, finishing the past two seasons with a combined 47 victories and two postseason berths. Along the way he became a national name for both good and not so good reasons. There's no doubting he can coach. But sometimes he took away from what he could do with his players on the floor, with his own antics.

He's mellowed over the past few seasons, coincidentally or not, during the most successful years with Loyola. There's no doubt he'll put on a show as head coach of the Saints -- everyone with Siena is just hoping its a box office bonanza.

"I want to watch Jimmy in action," Williams said.

The area will finally get the chance to see the real Patsos, when Siena opens the season against crosstown rival UAlbany, on Friday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m.
Below is Williams wearing a nice Siena Under Armour polo shirt before practice began. 

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Siena women's basketball media day

J.S. Carras/The Record
The Siena women's basketball team held its media day event on Monday afternoon at the ARC.

Second-year coach Ali Jaques (left) is optimistic that the team can have a good season, despite losing leading scorer Lily Grenci to graduation.

The Saints are picked seventh in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference preseason poll, but do have some intriguing pieces. If they come together, they may be able to finish near the top.

Marist has won eight straight tournament titles and newcomer Quinnipiac finished 30-3 last season and went to the NCAA tournament.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

FCS Top 25 - Oct. 21

Things are getting sorted out and the top teams in the FCS are becoming clearer.

Still, no one can get past two-time defending champion North Dakota State, which occupies the No. 1 spot in The Sports Network's Top 25 poll, once again. The Bison received all 156 first-place votes, following the loss Sam Houston's loss and drop from No. 2

Eastern Illinos, the alma mater of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, moved up to No. 2 in the poll

The University at Albany continues to struggles in its first season of play in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Great Danes lost to No. 8 Towson, 44-17, on Homecoming weekend at Bob Ford Field.

Below, is my ballot for the Top 25. The number in the (xx) is if a team appears in a different spot in the poll than on my ballot.

1. North Dakota State
2. Eastern Illinois
3. Montana State (5)
4. McNeese State
5. Fordham (9)
6. Maine (11)
7. Coastal Carolina (6)
8. Towson
9. Sam Houston State (7)
10. Bethune-Cookman (14)
11. Eastern Washington (3)
12. Montana (10)
13. Wofford (12)
14. Youngstown State (13)
15. Tennessee State (21)
16. Lehigh (15)
17. James Madison (19)
18. Northern Arizona (16)
19. New Hampshire (20)
20. Samford (22)
21. Central Arkansas (23)
22. Villanova (18)
23. Delaware (NR)
24. Southeastern Louisana (NR)
25. South Dakota (NR)

Raked, but not on my ballot
17. Northern Iowa
24. Georgia Southern
25. South Dakota State

Others receiving votes: Delaware 270, Charleston Southern 226, Southeastern Louisiana 183, Harvard 180, South Carolina State 134, Southern Illinois 76, Jacksonville State 60, William & Mary 42, Chattanooga 35, South Dakota 34, Southern Utah 16, Gardner-Webb 15, Jackson State 15, UT Martin 13, Cal Poly 13, Princeton 10, Stony Brook 5, Alcorn State 5, Sacred Heart 4, Illinois State 4, Sacramento State 3, Butler 3, Duquesne 2

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Purple & Gold Scrimmage quick thoughts

The White team won the Purple & Gold scrimmage 57-54.

I know what you're thinking (neither team was wearing Purple or Gold -- at least that's what I was thimking).

It was a good, competitive game (I did miss the first few minutes because I was writing my UAlbany football game story).

According to our "unofficial" official stats, D.J. Evans led all scorers with 17 points, while Mike Rowley had seven rebounds.

I liked what I saw, in terms of competition and the late-game situations gave this young, inexperienced team a chance to work through some things.

There is a long way to go though.

"It's a work in progress," said junior Sam Rowley.

This team should be big and talented up front, led by Rowley. The Great Danes also have John Puk (6-10), Luke Devlin (6-8), Levan Shengelia (6-9) and Mike Rowley (6-8).

"Our frontcourt's pretty big," said coach Will Brown. "It's pretty good."

I think the team has a lot of pieces and should be solid and competitive for sure. The overall success they have will be determined by how they come together as a unit, like last year's team did so terrifically down the stretch.

Brown will have to work to see what lineup combinations will play the best on the floor and he has less than three weeks to figure it out.

The Great Danes will scrimmage at Iona on Oct. 27 and at home against Marist, on Nov. 2, before the season-opener against Siena on Nov. 8.

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Javion Ogunyemi settles in at Siena

Today's story is about Siena freshman Javion Ogunyemi, who is a Troy High grad.

Here is a link to the story.

J.S. Carras/The Record

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Siena men's basketball media day

J.S. Carras/The Record
The Siena men's basketball team held its media day event on Friday afternoon.

One of the former great Saints was at the ARC, in Kenny Hasbrouck (right with coach Jimmy Patsos), who has his No. 41 hanging from the rafters downtown.

For my story in the paper, I talked to Troy native Javion Ogunyemi, who lost his mother to cancer, in August.

The Saints have an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday and will scrimmage at Army, on Oct. 26, before an exhibition against New Jersey City University, on Nov. 2.  

Siena sophomore Ryan Oliver saw his freshman year end abrubtly, when it was announced in January that he would have surgery on his left knee.
Jeff Couch/The Record

Oliver is back this season, ready to contribute and pick up where he left off.

“I'm trying to be consistent and show (the coaches) what I’m capable of doing," said Oliver on Friday.

Oliver started four games last season and averaged 2.2 points per game, but just as he was figuring out the college game, he had the setback with his knee. 

“It was tough to watch from the sidelines," he said. "But it was also a good thing — it was a learning lesson.”

Oliver said he's "good to go" and he certainly figures to contribute, once the season begins next month because he's a good shooter and his frame (6-3 — 195) makes him a difficult cover

“It’s always good to put on a jersey and get out there," he said.

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RPI football will play Merchant Marine Nov. 2

In the end, the partial government shutdown will only delay the Liberty League football contest between RPI and Merchant Marine Academy.

The RPI Athletic Department tweeted on Friday afternoon that the Engineers will play the Mariners on Nov. 2, at 1 p.m. 

The game was supposed to be played on Oct. 5, on RPI's Homecoming & Reunion Weekend, but the government shutdown postponed the game and Merchant Marine's season.

The Mariners also were inactive last week, when they were supposed to travel to take on Rochester.

The Engineers (0-2, 3-2) play Rochester on Saturday at noon, at East Campus Stadium. 

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stephan Jiggetts leaves UAlbany program

Freshman Stephan Jiggetts has left the University at Albany men's basketball program, according to the school's sports information department.

The reason given was "personal" and Jiggetts changed his Twitter avatar from a head shot in his UAlbany jersey to a different one of him working out late on Tuesday. 

Jiggetts, had originally committed to Siena, when Mitch Buonaguro was the head coach, but decided not to come to Loudonville when Buonaguro was fired.

Jiggetts committed to UAlbany in June. 

Here is his UAlbany bio, but he is no longer listed on the roster online.

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UAlbany women 1st; men 3rd in AEast poll

The University at Albany women's basketball team has been selected to finish first in the America East Conference preseason poll.

The men's team, also defending champions, was selected to finish 3rd in the preseason poll, behind Vermont and Stony Brook.

Here is a link to today's story, which talks about both programs having media day on Tuesday.

Here is the full men's poll, selected by the coaches.

1. Vermont
2. Stony Brook
3. UAlbany
4. Hartford
5. New Hampshire
7. Binghamton
8. Maine
9. UMass Lowell

The men's preseason America East team consists of Stony Brook's Jameel Warner and Dave Coley, Vermont's Brian Voelkel, Binghamton's Jordan Reed and Mark Nwakamma of Hartford. 

The women's poll is below.

1. UAlbany
2. Hartford
3. Stony Brook
4. New Hampshire
5. Vermont
6. Maine
8. Binghamton
9. UMass Lowell

The preseason women's team consists of Shereesha Richards and Megan Craig of UAlbany, Hartford's Amber Bepko, Sabre Proctor of Stony Brook and Kelsey Hogan of New Hampshire.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

FCS Top 25 - Oct. 14

Things are starting to shake out in the FCS, as the cream rises to the top.

Here is The Sports Network's new poll.

Below is my ballot. The number in the (xx) is where the team is located if it's different than where I have them.

1. North Dakota State
2. Sam Houston State
3. Eastern Illinoi
4. Montana State (5)
5. Fordham (8)
6. McNeese State (9)
7. Maine (14)
8. Coastal Carolina (6)
9. Villanova (12)
10. Towson (7)
11. Bethune-Cookman (17)
12. Eastern Washington (4)
13. Montana (10)
14. Wofford (13)
15. Youngstown State (16)
16. Southern Illinois (NR)
17. Northern Iowa (11)
18. Tennessee State (24)
19. James Madison (20)
20. Lehigh (18)
21. Northern Arizona (19)
22. William & Mary (NR)
23. Samford (22)
24. South Dakota State (15)
25. Central Arkansas (21) 

Ranked, but not on my ballot
23. Georgia Southern
25. New Hampshire

Others receiving votes: Southern Illinois 296, Charleston Southern 237, Delaware 201, William & Mary 112, Southeastern Louisiana 111, South Carolina State 105, Harvard 93, Cal Poly 74, UT Martin 52, Southern Utah 48, Jacksonville State 35, Gardner-Webb 22, Chattanooga 14, Jackson State 7, Stony Brook 4, Illinois State 2, Richmond 1, Alcorn State 1

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Saint Rose holding opponents scoreless

J.S. Carras/The Record
The College of Saint Rose women's soccer team has built quite the tradition.

The Golden Knights haven't allowed a goal in 12 games this season and are ranked No. 3 in the country, as they try to keep their streak of five straight Final Fours in tact -- and add to it.

Here is a link to a story that ran in Sunday's paper about the team's great start to the season -- even by their standards.

The defense is led by senior goalie Jessica Gerski (right), who hasn't allowed a goal all year and has been the starting keeper, since transferring in for her sophomore season.

There is no doubt the Golden Knights are one of the premier programs in the country.

The team won a national title in 2011 and have an incredible 141-11-9 record over the past seven years under coach Laurie Darling Gutheil

J.S. Carras/The Record

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Freshman has Wright stuff; Poole on 3rd team

The Siena men's basketball team is counting a lot on its new faces and new coach Jimmy Patsos, who are trying to get the program back in the right direction.

Here is a story from Wednesday's paper (right) on freshman Marquis Wright, who was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Maryland, last season as a senior at North Point.

Wright is expected to start at point guard for the Saints, when the season begins on Nov. 8, against crosstown rival the University at Albany.

Also of note, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference released its preseason third team on Wednesday. Siena junior Rob Poole was one of the five players mentioned.

"It's no secret, Rob's going to be a huge key for us," coach Jimmy Patsos said in a release from the school. "He took a big step in Montreal. I think he has the ability to be one of the top players in the league."

The other four players were Chris Manhertz (Canisius), Maurice Barrow (Fairfield), Emmy Anduar (Manhattan) and Ike Azotam (Quinnipiac).

The MAAC will release its second team on Thursday and the preseason first team on Friday.

Mike McMahon/The Record

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Monday, October 7, 2013

FCS Top 25 - Oct. 7

Things are getting a little clearer in the FCS.

And that is there are a few great teams and then a whole mix of just okay teams.

Below is my ballot. The number in the (xx) is if the team is located in a different position in The Sports Network Top 25.

1. North Dakota State
2. Towson (3)
3. Sam Houston State (2)
4. Eastern Illinois  (5)
5. Montana State (7)
6. Fordham (10)
7. Northern Iowa (4)
8. McNeese State (9)
9. Maine (14)
10. Coastal Carolina (8)
11. Bethune-Cookman (16)
12. Eastern Washington (6)
13. Villanova  (15)
14. Montana (11)
15. Wofford (12)
16. Youngstown State (18)
17. Yale (NR)
18. Tennessee State (NR)
19. Southern Illinois (NR)
20. Delaware (NR)
21. James Madison
22. Northern Arizona (19)
23. Lehigh (17)
24. William & Mary (NR)
25. Samford (23)

Ranked, but not on my ballot
13. South Dakota State
20. Central Arkansas
22. Georgia Southern
24. Jacksonville State
25. New Hampshire

Others receiving votes: Tennessee State 372, Cal Poly 234, Charleston Southern 223, Delaware 220, Yale 201, Gardner-Webb 157, UT Martin 101, South Carolina State 90, William & Mary 88, Harvard 87, Southern Illinois 78, Richmond 66, Southeastern Louisiana 64, Southern Utah 48, Murray State 31, Chattanooga 30, North Dakota 20, Illinois State 14, North Carolina A&T 10, Jackson State 7, Stony Brook 5, Western Illinois 4, Portland State 1, Alcorn State 1, Eastern Kentucky 1

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

James Madison rolls over UAlbany 40-13

From the Associated Press

HARRISONBURG, Va.Michael Birdsong passed for 249 yards and three touchdowns as James Madison had no trouble beating UAlbany, 40-13 in a Colonial Athletic Association game on Saturday.

James Madison (1-1, 4-2) rolled up a 26-3 halftime lead as Birdsong hit on touchdown passes of 41 and 12 yards to Daniel Brown (5 catches, 86 yards). Khalid Abdullah added a 38-yard TD run and Dae’Quan Scott pounded one in from three yards.

Albany (0-2, 1-5) dominated the third quarter with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Will Fiacchi to Kevin Chillis, and a safety when Tim Kologrivov sacked Birdsong in the end zone.

Fiacchi finished the day 26 of 43 for 214 yards for the Great Danes.

But the Dukes regained control in the fourth quarter. Scott scored his second touchdown of the day on a 1-yard run, and Birdsong reached Brown for a 2-yard TD pass to cap the scoring.

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Friday, October 4, 2013

UAlbany football fighting opponents, injuries

The University at Albany football team knew that this season would be a battle

The Great Danes are not only trying to navigate a difficult Colonial Athletic Association schedule, but they are trying to stay healthy while do it.

UAlbany will get back junior linebackers Christian Dorsey and Jake Dwyer for this Saturday's game at James Madison, but will be without sophomore snapper and defensive end Cory Connell, due to a mild concussion.

"Everybody knew going in that it would be a battle of attrition, keeping everybody healthy," said junior quarterback Will Fiacchi. "The next guy has to step up and contribute."

The Great Danes are already without junior linebacker Kyle Jordan and senior defensive back Justinian Mason, who have suffered season-ending injuries.

The Dukes, who are ranked No. 21 in the FCS Coaches Top 25 poll, have a big, physical team led by running back Dae'Quan Scott, who is 5-foot-9 and 215 pounds and senior linebacker Stephon Robertson, who is 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds. 

It will certainly be another test for UAlbany.

J.S. Carras/The Record

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

America East changes hoop tourney format

The America East Conference announced on Thursday that it is changing its format for the men's postseason league basketball tournament.

Starting in 2015, the league will play games at on-campus sites, rather than all at one venue and will re-seed after the quarterfinals.

This decision comes just two days after all of the men's and women's coaches were in Albany for a reception to officially kick off the year. The 2014 America East men's and women's tournament will be hosted at SEFCU Arena, on the campus of the University at Albany.

"This is an exciting and positive change for men's basketball in our conference," America East Commissioner Amy Huchthausen said in a statement. 

On one hand, this gives more of an advantage to the better teams, which is who the league wants representing them in the NCAA tournament.

On the other hand, it takes a little excitement of upsets away from a time that's referred to by many as March Madness.

Either way, I'm not huge on having three days between the quarterfinals and semifinals, which I think will take some steam away from the tournament.

I've covered some exciting games in the America East tournament, the two most exciting pitting UAlbany against Vermont. In 2009, the Great Danes became the only No. 7 seed ever to beat a No. 2. Last March, UAlbany defeated Vermont at Patrick Gym to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. 

Here is the full release from the league.

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RPI Homecoming football game postponed

TROY - There will be no homecoming football game at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this year.
Saturday's Liberty League contest against Merchant Marine Academy has been postponed due to the partial government shutdown.

The Engineers (0-1, 3-1) and Mariners (0-1, 3-1) were supposed to kick off at 1 p.m., from East Campus Stadium, but due to the stemming from the budget impasse in Congress, the game will not be held this weekend.

“Obviously it’s unfortunate and it is something that was truly out of our control," said RPI football coach Ralph Isernia

The last time a RPI football game was postponed was Sept. 15, 2001, due to the September 11 terrorist attacks. That game, against Coast Guard, was not rescheduled.

Instead of football, the nationally ranked RPI women's soccer team will face Clarkson at 1 p.m., instead of the regularly scheduled time of 5 p.m.

The football game has been tenatively rescheduled for Saturday, Nov. 2, in Troy.
Here is the school's release.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A fresh start for Siena basketball

J.S. Carras/The Record
The calendar just flipped to October, but we're already talking about college basketball season.

Both the University at Albany and Siena College men's basketball squads have kicked off practice in the past few days.

The Saints are trying to put last season's disappointments behind them and start fresh with new head coach Jimmy Patsos (left) and a slew of new players on the roster. Tuesday was also Patsos' 47th birthday.

Here is the link to a story from Wednesday's paper about the team kicking off practice and hoping to have some success.

I also checked in with the UAlbany team and this story appeared in Sunday's paper.

Our new columnist Steve Amedio also has a take from Wednesday's paper on Danes head coach Will Brown, who beings his 13th season leading UAlbany. Could he be the next Doc Sauers or Bob Ford and remain on Western Avenue until the end of his career?

J.S. Carras/The Record

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

RPI/Merchant Marine game in jeporady

TROY >> The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute football team is planning to play Saturday afternoon at East Campus Stadium on Homecoming Weekend.

The Engineers may have to make a change of plans.

RPI (0-1, 3-1) is scheduled to host Merchant Marine Academy on Saturday, in a Liberty League contest. However, the government shutdown that went into affect on Tuesday, is threatening the game. As a service academy, Merchant Marine is affected by the changes happening and therefore can’t practice during the shutdown.

While this may eventually change the plans, Engineers coach Ralph Isernia and his team are preparing as if they will play on Saturday, as scheduled.

According to a RPI athletics spokesperson, if this shutdown is not resolved by Thursday, the game could still be played in Troy, on Sunday afternoon.

If no agreement can be made by Thursday, the game will be cancelled. The two teams have another open date, but Merchant Marine can’t play on Saturday, Nov. 2, due to exams at the school.

If the football game is cancelled, the RPI women’s soccer game against Clarkson will serve as the Homecoming game at East Campus Stadium.

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VIDEO: Siena freshman Lavon Long

Tuesday was the first day the media was invited to Siena men's basketball practice.

Below is freshman Lavon Long, talking about the team coming together.

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