From the start of its preseason, Siena College women’s basketball head coach Ali Jaques has liked her team’s mentality.
“These guys have just attacked, attacked, attacked,” Jaques said Monday during the program’s media day.
Finding a sense of urgency has been easy for the Saints, who open the season with a Nov. 14 trip to Syracuse to take on last year’s national runner-up.
“It gets no better than that,” said junior guard Kollyns Scarbrough, the Saints’ leading scorer last season with 11.4 points per game.
“It’s a good test for us in the beginning of the season to see where we’re at, to see what we have to fix once our conference [schedule] comes,” sophomore guard Jackie Benitez said of Siena’s matchup with Syracuse.
Last season, Siena dropped its first five games before turning things around once conference play started. The Saints won their first seven Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference games before faltering down the stretch of the season to finish 14-18 overall and 10-10 in the league. Siena’s season ended with a loss to Iona in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, a day after beating Rider in an overtime matchup which saw the Saints finish the game with only four players on the court.
This preseason, Jaques said she’s appreciated the way her players have approached each day together.
“The thing that makes them so much fun to coach, so far, is their competitive attitude and their relentlessness and their attack mentality,” Jaques said. “These guys compete every day.”
“There’s been a lot of energy, and a lot of untapped potential we’ve found,” Scarbrough said.
Siena wants to play with a fast pace this season. Jaques said her team’s depth should make that possible, as she envisions finding consistent minutes for a substantial number of players off her bench.
“One through five,” Scarbrough said, “everyone has skills here, and we can score in different ways.”
Siena’s MAAC season will start Dec. 1 with a home game against Fairfield after four non-conference games to start the season, an opening stretch which concludes Nov. 27 at SEFCU Arena to play the University at Albany. After opening at Syracuse, Scarbrough said the Saints want to carry that excitement into the rest of their season.
“We get hyped for everyone,” she said.
RETURN DATE UNSURE FOR HETZKE
Jaques said junior forward Margot Hetzke is progressing, but there is no timetable for her return.
“She’s on the road to recovery,” Jaques said of Hetzke, who missed the final 22 games of the 2015-16 season.
Hetzke suffered a concussion in Siena’s Dec. 12 game against UAlbany, and Jaques said Hetzke continued to show concussion symptoms for the next six months. During that time, a hip injury was discovered and surgically corrected once Hetzke was free of concussion symptoms.
Hetzke was the MAAC Rookie of the Year as a freshman, as well as a third-team All-MAAC selection.
Preseason MAAC team rankings and player honors will be announced tonight during the conference’s preseason awards show on ESPN3. Rankings and selections for the women’s teams will start to be revealed at 7. The same will be done for the men’s teams starting around 7:45 p.m.
Jaques said she expects the Siena women’s team to be projected to finish in the top third of the conference.
“No matter where we’re picked,” Benitez said, “we’re going to come out ready and strong.”
The Siena men are likely to be pegged as the No. 2 team behind Monmouth.
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Categories: College Sports