It’s not always easy to stay positive when two of your key players are suspended, whether its for a full season or just three games. But Siena head coach Mitch Buonaguro told Mark Singelais of the Times Union Blog that he views the three-game suspensions of Rakeem Brookins and Trenity Burdine as an opportunity for others to log more minutes early on.
Perhaps Buonaguro’s outlook would differ at the start of MAAC play, but the Saints, who essentially played undermanned last year, should be able to hold their own against America East favorite Vermont in the season opener and lesser threats Navy and Cal State-Northridge in the following two games without the two sophomores.
Though Siena lost some pieces from last year’s team, the Saints played 2011-12 without Brookins and Burdine, both of whom took medical redshirts. Both players did show promise in their freshman years, and Buonaguro had pegged Brookins as a starter. Burdine logged over 10 minutes per game as a frosh.
Regardless, neither will be in the lineup for the first three games after violating Siena’s athletic department policy — that’s all we’re told.
Siena will start freshman Ryan Oliver in place of Brookins. Rich Audu and Chris Leppanen should also see an early spike in minutes at the one and two. As for Burdine, Rob Poole, who averaged 27 minutes as a freshman, will help make up for the lost minutes.
The Saints are a trendy darkhorse pick out of the MAAC this year. Losing Kyle Downey and Owen Wignot deprives Siena of some key leaders, but Buonaguro has one of the league’s better front courts, headlined by last year’s NCAA rebounding leader O.D. Anosike. With Burdine joining that front court after three games and Brookins forming a potentially potent back court with Evan Hymes, Siena could be better off as role players log minutes early.