The Siena women’s basketball has finished below .500 for seven straight seasons.
This is the time of year for optimism, though, and it helps the Saints that their glass was just about half full last year, when they finished 14-16.
Since the 2004-05 season, Siena’s winning percentage has been just below .400, but the Saints flirted with .500 in 2010-11 and had their best record since the streak of losing seasons began.
Even the final loss was encouraging, as Siena gave nationally ranked Marist all it could handle in the semifinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
As Siena opens the 2011-12 season at 7 tonight against Sacred Heart at the Alumni Recreation Center, the Saints lack a dominating individual star, but have a number of energetic young players to complement a dual offensive force made up of Cristina Centeno and Maja Gerlyng, who are the only seniors on the team and are tri-captains with junior Lily Grenci.
“I would say we’re really, really good,” Centeno said before practice on Thursday. “We have a lot of athleticism and talent, we’re going to be running the floor, and that’s something we’re looking forward to. Were going to be very up-tempo.”
“Everyone’s been looking forward to this day for a long time,” Gerlyng said. “We’re ready. The practices have been intense.”
“We’ve worked very hard the last few years to improve our recruiting,” said head coach Gina Castelli, who is beginning her 22nd season at Siena. “The other big thing is an attitude that understands that you have to believe in winning before you step on the floor. That’s something that we’ve really worked a lot on the last few years.”
With leading scorer and rebounder Serena Moore graduated, the Saints expect to spread the offense around.
It starts with Centeno, who ratcheted her three-point shooting above 38 percent last year, and Gerlyng, a native of Denmark who made 43 threes last year and was one of the best free-throw shooters in the MAAC.
Centeno has, at times, alternated between point and shooting guard throughout her career, but if things go according to plan, she’ll be out there to score this season, with occasional relief appearances at point guard.
“I just took the time to work on my game, whether it was inside or outside, but I really focused on getting a better shot and being able to actually get it off before the defender comes over,” she said.
“We’ve relied heavily on her to do a lot of different things, but this year, we’ve settled in to her being the off guard position,” Castelli said. “I don’t think she really enjoys
being at that point position, but if you sub her in there, she’ll do well. I just think we’ve come to terms that she’s better at the off guard position, as much as I still think she would’ve been a great point guard.”
Castelli said sophomore forward Clara Sole Anglada, a native of Spain, is easily the most improved player on the roster.
“I think she was in a position where last year was a big transition year as a foreign student,” Castelli said. “She’s very passionate about basketball, she wants to play. Right from the end of the season until now, she’s been dedicated. She’s been in the weight room and got stronger. She’s just a much better player.”
The fact that Sole Anglada is a memeber of Siena’s sophomore class only bolsters how important that group will be to any success the Saints have.
There are six sophomores, and even the freshmen, particularly Colonie High School graduate Tehresa Coles and Kelsey Booth, will be expected to make important contributions.
Castelli wants the Saints to run more this season because they can. They young players are athletic, and there’s many of them, which will allow Castelli to substitute liberally.
“Tehresa Coles and Kelsey Booth will definitely get time in these next few games. They’ve shown that they should be out there,” Castelli said.
“I like the fact that we potentially have a lot of depth and a lot of scoring, wherein years past, I feel like our scoring was limited with different players. All of our players have the potential to score. Depth-wise, it’s tough to scout a team like that. You can’t concentrate on Maja or Cristina.”
Tonight — SACRED HEART, 7; Tuesday — BINGHAMTON, 7; 19 — RHODE ISLAND, 2; 25 — at North Carolina A&T, 2.
3 — UAlbany (Times Union Center) 4; 7 — at Navy, 7; 10 — at Central Connecticut, noon; 21 — UMASS, 11 a.m.; 29 — at Maine, 6.
2 — CANISIUS, 7; 4 — at Iona, 7; 7 — LOYOLA, 2; 9 — at Fairfield, 7; 13 — NIAGARA, 7; 15 — at Loyola, 2; 20 — FAIRFIELD, 7; 22 — at Rider, 1; 27 — SAINT PETER’S (Times Union Center), 5; 29 — MARIST, 2.
2 — at Manhattan, 6; 4 — IONA, 2; 9 — at Saint Peter’s, 6; 12 — at Marist, 2; 17 — MANHATTAN, 7; 19 — RIDER, 2; 24 — at Niagara, 7; 26 — at Canisius, 2.
Home games in CAPS.
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Categories: College Sports