Siena Women’s Basketball: Young Saints will be brought along slowly

Siena women’s basketball coach Gina Castelli has a stable of athletic freshmen she’d like to let loo

Siena women’s basketball coach Gina Castelli has a stable of athletic freshmen she’d like to let loose.

Now, though, is not the time.

Until the six first-year players have made the adjustment to college ball, Castelli will rely on her upperclassmen, including all-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference preseason first-teamer Serena Moore, a 6-foot-2 senior from Rochester who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a junior.

Moore is one of the best returning players in the MAAC, and will be relied on heavily if the Saints are to stop a streak of six straight losing seasons.

They’ll open the 2010-11 season, the 40th anniversary of the program, with five straight home games before hitting the road for the first time on Dec. 7. The season begins on Friday against Navy at 7 p.m. at the Alumni Recreation Center.

Siena’s starting lineup is expected to include junior Cristina Centeno, who moves back to point guard, senior co-captain Cathy Cockrum and Moore, who was named to the all-MAAC second team after last season.

“The good thing is, she’s welcoming the leadership role, she’s embracing it,” Castelli said. “You want to have that mentality in your best player.”

Castelli wants to get opponents into a running game, a style that should suit her freshmen nicely, but they need experience, and the Saints, who have some nagging injuries to their younger players, need a long bench to throw fresh bodies out on the floor.

“Sometimes, you find your identity as you’re going through the season,” Castelli said. “Right now, we’re just depending so much on upperclassmen, and their identity is that they’re very spirited, high-energy and want to win.

“In terms of style, I think we’re going to be a very up-tempo team, a very aggressive team. Depth is a little bit of an issue, right now, but once we get some kids back, I’m looking forward to playing that way, because our freshmen, in particular, have the athleticism to get up and down the floor. But we’re going to rely on our veterans the first few games.”

One player Castelli is eager to get going is sophomore Lily Grenci, a 6-footer from Mars, Pa., who played in 18 games last year, but was limited by a stress fracture in her foot.

Grenci said it took until March before she started to feel comfortable on the floor again, and by then, the prudent thing to do was exercise caution and not push it.

Now, she said she’s 100 percent healthy, and has been displaying a versatile game that includes strong rebounding and three-point shooting.

“I think I’m a physical player with my back to the basket, but I also can step out and work on my outside shot,” Grenci said.

“She did a smarter rehab, in a sense, over the summer,” Castelli said. “She did great conditioning, she wasn’t always running, she was in the pool a little bit, so now she’s in much better shape, she has a real knack for scoring.”

Siena, 11-18 overall and 8-10 in the MAAC last year, was picked by the coaches to finish eighth of 10 teams.

“That’s just motivation to us,” Grenci said. “You have to look at it as that’s how they see us, so prove them wrong.”



Friday — NAVY, 7 p.m.; 15 — COLGATE, 7; 20 — WAGNER, 2; 27 — CENTRAL CONNECT­ICUT STATE, 2.


4 — UALBANY (at Times Union Center), 5; 7 — at Binghamton, 7; 12 — at Sacred Heart; 22 — UC SANTA BARBARA, 11 a.m.; 28 — vs. Villanova (at Fordham Classic), 3 p.m.; 29 — at Fordham (Fordham Classic), 1.


2 — at Iona, 2; 4 — at Manhattan, Noon; 8 — RIDER, 2; 10 — FAIRFIELD, 7; 14 — at

Niagara, 11 a.m.; 16 — at Canisius, 2 p.m.; 22 — LOYOLA, 2; 24 — SAINT PETER’S (at Times Union Center), 5; 28 — IONA, 7; 31 — at Marist, 7:30.


4 — MANHATTAN (at Times Union Center), 5; 6 — NIAGARA, 2; 12 — at Loyola, 2; 14 — at Rider, 7; 19 — at Saint Peter’s, 2; 21 — at Fairfield, 7; 25 — MARIST, 7; 27 —



3-7 — MAAC tournament (at Bridgeport, Conn.).

Home games in CAPS

Categories: College Sports

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