Thanks to the recent court ruling regarding two-time transfers, a reeling Siena team has reason for optimism entering Tuesday night’s matchup with Cornell. Former Missouri and Austin Peay guard/forward Sean Durugordon makes his debut for the Saints at MVP Arena after missing the first ten games of the season.
Durugordon, a Harlem native who transferred out of Missouri after the 2021-22 season, averaged 12.4 PPG and 6.0 RPG for Austin Peay last year in the ASUN. He committed to Siena in May after visiting both Siena and Iona.
As a 6-foot-5-inch wing with a game predicated on length and strength, he provides experience and scoring to a Saints team that badly needs it. Siena currently sits at 2-8 and is ranked 360 out of 362 teams in KenPom, already suffering four losses of 30 points or more.
Head coach Carmen Maciariello was quite vague when talking to reporters this week about what Durugordon’s responsibilities would be.
“I told Sean to do what he’s done [in practice] since he’s been here,” Maciariello said. “Just play good basketball. Make the right reads, dribble, shoot, pass, score, rebound, defend — and he’ll be asked to do all of it.”
So, how does he make this impact? Let’s dive in.
Durugordon’s best trait is his ability to win extra possessions for his team on the offensive glass. He was top 10 in the ASUN in offensive rebounding rate last year despite his height.
While offensive rebounding is the one thing that Siena has excelled at this year, the Saints will take all of the extra possessions they can get. Durugordon uses his 6-foot-11-inch wingspan to rebound over guards and forwards, and can use his physical body to establish positioning.
On the ball, Durugordon’s biggest strength is the ability to get to the basket on the drive. His physicality and frame allow him to use contact to his advantage to create easy looks at the rim.
Maciariello also believes in Durugordon’s mid-range game. While he didn’t take a ton of mid-range jumpers last season, he certainly can knock them down when he gets to his spots.
While he’s not a primary ball handler, he’s absolutely a player who can take the ball and get a basket. Siena, which ranks 346th in effective field goal percentage and 359th in turnover rate, can badly use somebody like that.
Durugordon ranked in the top 100 nationally in turnover rate, as his goal with the ball was to use his strength to get to the basket. He struggled with efficiency last year, but Siena is hoping that another summer of development will be beneficial for both his finishing and his jump shot.
In transition, Durugordon can use his athleticism to get into the paint. His strides are long, and at full speed, he moves well in space. Austin Peay played very slowly on offense last year, so he didn’t really have the opportunity to show off his full skillset in transition. Siena is also playing slowly on the offensive end this year, so it’s unclear whether Durugordon will change the identity of the transition game for the Saints.
On the defensive end, Austin Peay aggressively forced ball handlers toward the baseline last year, where they would have a help defender at the block. This allowed Durugordon to leverage his length and attempt to wall off a direction. His length affected driving guards and forced them to dribble towards the help.
His long limbs help him slide with players around his size, but sometimes, his aggression would be turned against him. Some of the shiftier guards that he faced were able to quickly change direction as Durugordon’s hips were slower to flip, allowing them to get to the basket.
Before the season, Maciariello told me that he was very excited about Durugordon’s versatility.
“He’s a big guard, a big wing,” Maciariello said. “We love how he can defend multiple positions. He’s very physical, and that’s what we look for in a two-way threat.”
Siena needs Durugordon to relieve some of the scoring burden from the guards, Zek Tekin and Michael Eley, as those two have been forced to take some really difficult shots. Durugordon’s presence should also be helpful to freshman Bralyn Smith, a highly touted shooter who has not found his footing yet. Having another scoring option to pay attention to on the floor will make life easier for Smith.
On the defensive end, lineups with both Killian Gribben and Giovanni Emejuru no longer have to be employed as heavily, as Durugordon can guard multiple positions. This allows the Saints to be more nimble guarding handoffs and ball screens, improving perimeter defense.
Games against Cornell, Brown, and UMass will be crucial for Durugordon to find his role before MAAC play resumes Jan. 5 against Fairfield.