Clareth takes leave of absence

He's a sophomore guard for the Saints
Nico Clareth has taken a leave of absence from the Siena team.
Nico Clareth has taken a leave of absence from the Siena team.

LOUDONVILLE — Coming off his first scoreless game as a member of the Siena College men’s basketball program, it’s now unclear when sophomore Nico Clareth will next suit up for the Saints.

A statement released Saturday from the school announced Clareth is taking time away from the team.

“Siena Basketball Vice President and Director of Athletics John D’Argenio has announced that sophomore guard Nico Clareth will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from the team,” the statement reads. “Although he remains eligible to play, there is no timetable for his return.”

D’Argenio could not be reached for further comment Saturday. The Saints play Sunday at Fairfield.

“Everything’s in the statement . . . from John,” head coach Jimmy Patsos said in a voicemail left for a Gazette reporter. “Fairfield’s really good.”

He later added: “Seniors are playing well. Got to stay together.”

Clareth was suspended for three games earlier this season for a violation of athletic department rules. On the court, he’s mostly struggled through the 13 games he has played as he’s worked to rehabilitate his right knee after undergoing off-season surgery. After setting the Siena freshman record for points in a season and winning the MAAC Sixth Man of the Year award for the 2015-16 campaign, Clareth has averaged 12.4 points per game on 34.3 percent shooting this season.

Against Quinnipiac this past Thursday, Clareth scored zero points in a career-low three minutes. After the game, Patsos questioned if Clareth was “all in” this season for the Saints and that his sparse playing time that night was not related to the health of his knee.

“He just wasn’t ready to play,” Patsos said. “I didn’t think he was ready.”

Told of Patsos comments that night, Clareth had said he’d work to improve.

“I have to show him that I am all in,” he said. “I don’t know [why he thinks I’m not]. I’ll have to talk to him and find out.”

After his original comments about Clareth during Thursday’s post-game press conference, Patsos later softened.

“Look, Nico’s had a really tough go of it,” Patsos said. “Nico has greater expectations than anyone I’ve ever coached at this level — and that’s a good and a bad thing. . . . He puts a lot of pressure on himself. That guy wants to make the NBA and I have no problem with that.”

Without Clareth, Siena will likely lean more on freshman Ahsante Shivers to fill perimeter reserve minutes like he did in playing 17 minutes against Quinnipiac. Before that game, Shivers had played 20 minutes between the previous four games. Patsos used him as an example of what he’s looking for in a struggling player.

“Shivers didn’t play for a few games and he had a couple things just to work on, mentally and attitude-wise, and he could’ve quit,” Patsos said, “and all he’s done is work harder.”

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