Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos knows that his team needs to clean up their turnover woes, but it isn’t that simple.
The Saints, who are off to a 7-4 start and face a road trip to St. Bonaventure and Vermont to close 2015, have turned the ball over on 21.3% of their possessions. Patsos knew that by adopting the style of playing faster this season would come at a cost.
“Our turnovers are, we’re going to lead the country, but we’re playing fast,” Patsos said. “I’m trying to maintain our level of play and then add a few things.”
The Saints played 11 games over a span of 31 days and the head coach in his third year at the school would like to focus his young players on taking smarter shots in situations. However, Siena has turned it over an average of over 15 times per game, which include 20 in their win over Manhattan. Patsos said that when Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery visited the program, the former MAAC champion head coach of the Saints told Patsos to make sure they follow through on playing fast.
“Fran said you guys are going to run and it’s going to be fun, you’re going to run more, you’re going to score more points, but you’re going to have turnovers,” Patsos said. “In other words Fran was like don’t expect no turnovers, but you have to get it to a workable number.”
“We have to get it down, like if we just get two a half because you’re going to play fast, then we’ll be better. That’s two more possessions each half, sometimes they turn into scores, but he said this was going to happen and he’s a really good coach and a good friend.”
Siena saw one of their best performances in their last game against Albany, where they turned the ball over 10 times on 68 possessions. Throughout McCaffery’s tenure at Siena, their turnover percentage swayed between 15 to 19 percent.
However, the most difficult part to manage Patsos said, is resisting the urge to slow the game down.
“Fran McCaffery was very clear, be very careful and if you have to err on the side of caution keep playing fast,” Patsos said. “He’s like, don’t slide back to where you get nervous and we all get nervous – don’t get me wrong – but he was like, if you’re going to err on the side of caution don’t do it. Just keep playing fast, so that really helped us. That’s what we’ve been doing.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.