Marist-Siena Rivalry Gets New Wrinkle With Guards Khallid Hart And Marquis Wright

Marist’s Khallid Hart and Siena’s Marquis Wright were intertwined in a debate last season on which freshman should carry the conference’s Rookie of the Year award.

Siena sophomore Marquis Wright said he looks forward to guarding Marist’s Khallid Hart, who edged him out for the Rookie of the Year award last season.

Saints head coach Jimmy Patsos was adamant that they should split the award, which eventually went to the 6’2″ Red Fox guard in the final tally. Hart led all freshman in scoring last season with 14.7 points per game, while Wright ranked second only to MAAC Player of the Year Billy Baron with 5.2 assists per game.

To say that the matchup of the league’s top two rookies from a year ago would be motivation is an understatement for the 6′ sophomore Wright.

“I’m looking forward to really guarding him Friday night,” Wright said. “I know it was like very close, I guess, in voting, but I mean it’s personal. I just want to prove to people that I could have got it.”

So far, having split their two meetings last season, the rivalry amongst these point guards should add another flair to the Siena-Marist rivalry, which has been one-sided in the past.

“It’s a lot of animosity and we always bring the best out of each other,” Hart said of the rivalry. “I think this weekend, it’s all about our team turning the season around and hopefully we go up there and get a win.”

“We know the crowd is going to come out, we know Siena is going to come out, but it’s about us and what we do. All the respect to Marquis Wright, he’s a great player and Siena’s a great team and hopefully its going to be a great game.”

Both teams will look to use this game as a start to their turnaround. Siena closed the Buffalo trip with a four-point win over Niagara after, as Jimmy Patsos said, injuring the one thing they haven’t yet this season – a backboard – something Wright said he had never seen. Meanwhile, the Red Foxes returned Hart three games ago and finally have a group that resembles the roster they were set to compete with in November.

(photo courtesy: Marist Athletics)
Marist sophomore Khallid Hart, rebounding from a left foot injury, scored 19 points against Quinnipiac. (photo courtesy: Marist Athletics)

“It definitely feels like the beginning of the season again,” Hart said. “It’s great having everybody out there and we get our rotations down and we can get used to playing with each other again.”

While Siena has taken a step back from being the team picked second in the preseason due to injuries, the Red Foxes have been stunted by the injury bug. Seniors Chavaughn Lewis and T.J. Curry missed significant portions of the season, but no Marist player has been impacted greater than the 6’2″ Hart, who left the team’s second game of the season against Army with an injury to his left leg. Just about two months removed from the injury, he is still getting used to playing through it and getting healthy.

“On certain cuts its going to take time for me to get back, but most of the time when I’m out there, I don’t really feel any pain,” Hart said, who scored 19 points in their last game, a one-point loss to Quinnipiac. “I guess it’s just my adrenaline pushing and I’m just so amped for the game. I don’t feel much pain, but after the game its definitely sore.”

Siena’s injuries forced Wright to become a stronger scoring presence. He currently ranks second on the team with 12.8 points per game, 14th amongst MAAC players, and second to only Iona’s A.J. English with 5.2 assists per game.

“I felt like its been some games where I did a lot and then some games where I didn’t do much, but then again it all comes down to the team and I just want to do every little thing I can to help the team get wins,” Wright said. “It was a lot that I did improve from last year, like hitting my jump shot and things like that, but the most thing I really ever worry about is turning the ball over. I want to keep that as low as possible.”

While Wright turned it over a career-high eight times at Canisius, the team quickly turned the page from that loss, erasing it from their memory as they move forward in conference play.

“I felt like that around this time of year, it was the same record as last year and we did a good job of building, putting together wins,” Wright said. “That’s what we have to start from here on out this year, putting together wins and just grinding them out.”

Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]

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