Q/A with Siena Blogger Matt Restivo

We met up with Matt Restivo of the Siena Saints Blog for the third time in three seasons (Check out our 2009 and 2010 Q/A's with the Siena Saints Blog). I sent the questions before the Saints began their season so Matt did his best to answer the questions in the given time frame. Check 'em out after the jump:

FTRS: Considering the Saints haven't tipped off yet and are being led by second year skipper Mitch Buonaguro, what are the preseason expectations for this Saintly squad? NCAA's? NIT?
Matt: Every year the expectation for Siena is a MAAC Title and an NCAA Tournament appearance. That said, if they're going to do it, they're going to do it with their youth. This year, the departure of Ryan Rossiter makes this a completely new team to build around. Much of it was built around now Sophomore PG Rakeem Brookins, but he's going to miss the year with a back injury. Siena has also lost big man Davis Martens for the year and Trenity Burdine until January. The Saints will boast senior contributors in Kyle Downey and Owen Wignot, along with Junior OD Anosike for a total of only 8 scholarship players this season. The Saints won their home opener against Navy 65-56.
FTRS: Tech dropped last year's match up in Albany 62-57 shooting 4 of 22 from beyond the arc. Where did that game stack up amongst Siena's past 10 seasons in terms of a regular season victory?
Matt: You mean this game? Interesting question, it's up there, probably borderline top 10, there's no question it was a big and exciting win for that squad, but we had some legendary regular season wins over the course of the last 10 seasons, with a win over #20 Stanford topping the pack.
FTRS: In case you haven't heard, Paul Hewitt was terminated after last season and Tech is splitting up its home games amongst a Civic Center 30 miles from Atlanta and in the Atlanta Hawks' stadium. In short, it is a transition year in ATL. Coming from the Siena faithful who have had to deal with 4 different head coaches since Hewitt's last season in Siena, how should Tech fans handle this season of transition?
Matt: To be honest, two years ago, the first year Siena played Tech, Georgia Tech looked like a young, promising, up and comer in the ACC. It seemed like the sky was the limit with guys like Favors and Shumpert. From an outsider's perspective, it seemed like Hewitt just couldn't retain his talent to get GT to the next level, and last year was clearly a let down.

Transition years are very tough, especially for Saints fans. Siena is the pride and joy of the MAAC conference, the fans in Albany expect a trip to the NCAAs every single year. While I am sure your die hard fans expect the same, it's a little more understandable that it's tougher to get there when you're competing against the Dukes, UNCs, Marylands of the world. Siena fans will hang tough and support Mitch as he tried to right the ship in Loudonville, what we can definitely tell you, is that when you find the right guy for your program, it's very obvious-- Fran was just that, perhaps the best coach to ever set foot in Siena's gymnasium.
FTRS: Unfortunately for Tech, Siena returns 58% of their minutes played against Tech. Tell the average Tech fan who the key returners are for Siena and what kind of offensive look the Saints will present to Tech on November 23rd.
Matt: I think that 58% number might be off now that Siena has lost Brookins and Martens for the year. Owen Wignot left the Navy game with an undisclosed head injury so Siena may be missing their Senior captain on Wednesday as well. You're going to see a lot of young minutes with some interesting lineups. The offense-- it's tough to gell who will be scoring the rock. DeVonte Beard (Lebron James' HS) is very athletic and Rob Poole was brought in as Siena's sharpshooter. Evan Hymes has really looked good running point so far, but it's going to be very tough to tell game to game what the Saints will do offensively. Defensively, if OD gets into foul trouble, it's going to be a small lineup with a lot of zone. It's a team full of youth, and that's a big advantage for Georgia Tech.
A big thanks to the Saints Blog. Hope you guys make it back to the Tourney but fall short against Tech on Wednesday night.
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