Ryan Rossiter no longer just a role player
Not this year.
During the Saints' run of three straight MAAC titles, Rossiter was a key contributor but never the focal point of opponents' scouting reports -- a description that more aptly fit the likes of Kenny Hasbrouck, Ronald Moore and Alex Franklin.
Now the 6-foot-10 senior from Staten Island is something entirely different: The preseason MAAC Player of the Year.
"It's different without our seniors," Rossiter said Tuesday of Moore, Franklin and Edwin Ubiles, all of whom have moved on after storied careers. "They were great players and tremendous people, but more people are focused on what we lost than what we have back. That's what I'm focused on. I know what we have in the locker room and I'm really looking forward to this year."
The Saints were picked second in the MAAC when the preseason coaches' poll was released Tuesday at the league's media day in Times Square -- the first time since 2006-07 that they haven't been picked to win the title.
Fairfield, which took the Saints to overtime in last year's title game and returns four starters, was picked first with six of the 10 first-place votes.
Siena, which got three first-place votes, won't be taken lightly by anyone thanks to the aforementioned returning cast.
Though Rossiter and fellow first-team all-MAAC selection Clarence Jackson are the focal points, the Saints will also need a host of other players -- including freshmen Rakeem Brookins and Trenity Burdine -- to play the kind of supporting roles that Rossiter and Jackson played in years past.
"Obviously it's great to have myself and Clarence, because Clarence is a tremendous player," Rossiter said. "But two players aren't going to win you a game. You need a bench and you need other guys to go out there, and that's what we have."
Siena is expecting big things from Brookins, Burdine -- assuming he can overcome a nagging foot injury -- and players like O.D. Anosike and Kyle Griffin, whose stats were underwhelming last year because they were buried behind Franklin and Moore on the depth chart.
But first-year coach Mitch Buonaguro said there's no question who the headliner is.
"I'm really happy for Ryan," Buonaguro said. "It's a well-deserved honor, and he's worked hard for it."