LOUDONVILLE — For two games, junior Nico Clareth fought against the current, trying to speed up the development a young Siena College men’s basketball team needs to make before MAAC play arrives in late December.
Two losses and two poor individual performances later, Clareth said Wednesday his approach needs to change.
“I think I was — I think I was putting too much on myself,” Clareth said. “I’ve got to be able to trust my teammates more and move the ball — and trust the game of basketball, actually. Just trust the process and let the game come to me, you know? I think I’ve learned my lesson the past two games. When you try to force the issue, it only [compounds] mistakes.”
Clareth shot 9 of 32 in the Saints’ opening two losses. Besides the 21 points he scored, Clareth totaled nine turnovers, six rebounds and zero assists in Siena’s 0-2 start.
Then, after Monday’s 33-point loss against Florida Gulf Coast in the Saints’ home opener, Clareth — a Siena co-captain — left the team’s locker room without addressing media members. The rest of his teammates stayed.
“He made a mistake leaving the locker room,” Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos said. “I didn’t know. The players, as far as I’m concerned, are always available.”
Clareth didn’t directly address Wednesday why he headed out after Monday’s game earlier than the rest of his teammates, but his thought process was fairly clear. He was upset the Saints had been blown out — “I was most upset with the loss,” he said — and that he struggled again with his own play.
After Monday’s game, Patsos said Clareth needed to play within Siena’s offense, pointing out the junior had not registered an assist yet this season. Clareth, who met privately with Patsos in between Monday’s game and Wednesday’s session with media members, said he needs to move the ball better.
“It does bother me. I wouldn’t like to think of myself as a selfish player and I can be portrayed as a selfish player, sometimes,” Clareth said. “But, hey, not everything is a lie, you know? If something looks a [certain] way and people are saying it . . . then I may need to make some changes and I will.”
After an 0-2 start for @SienaMBB, Jimmy Patsos’ message to his team is heavy with alliteration: “Listening, learning and loving will lead to less losing.”
— Michael Kelly (@ByMichaelKelly) November 15, 2017
Clareth gets his first chance to do that Friday. That’s when the Saints take on Lehigh as a part of a two-games-in-four-days stretch that ends with a second road game at Bucknell. Patsos said he’s not sure which Saints will make up his starting lineup after Monday’s blowout loss.
“I was pretty upset after the game,” Patsos said. “I think I was a little bit in shock at the way we played for the last eight minutes.”
Sophomore Ahsante Shivers — who started Siena’s first two games along with Clareth, junior Evan Fisher, freshman Prince Oduro and redshirt junior Kadeem Smithen — said the Saints are confident they can use these next two games to get themselves right.
“It’s not going to be two easy road wins,” Shivers said, “but I definitely feel like if we can make the right adjustments we can win.”
Above all else, the Saints need Clareth to make the right adjustments. After a humbling start to the season, Clareth said he’s ready to do that.
“You got to learn from it,” Clareth said. “That’s the only thing you can do.”
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter. For more coverage of college basketball, head to dailygazette.com/blogs/the-outlet.
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