Albany County

Positive programs: Siena basketball teams meet with fans

Enthusiasm shows around the Saints
Jamion Christian is shown at Wednesday's fan event.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Jamion Christian is shown at Wednesday's fan event.

LOUDONVILLE — It looks a little funny, but it is no accident.

Siena College men’s basketball head coach Jamion Christian meant to build a 17-man roster for the upcoming season, his first as the Saints’ head coach.

“I did, I did,” Christian said Wednesday. “Usually, I have about 16 guys on my teams. So 17 is a little high — 16, I think, is the perfect number — but at the level of tempo we like to practice at, we need a lot of bodies.”

Along with the Siena women’s basketball coaches and players, Christian, his assistants and his large cast of Saints — which includes seven new players to the program — took some time Wednesday evening to enjoy some ice cream and conversation with a collection of the school’s basketball fans on campus. The annual event experienced a noticeable uptick in its attendance this year, and that kind of energy has been around the Siena men’s program since Christian’s hire in May.

“He has a lot of energy and he brings that onto the court with us, too,” Siena junior Ahsante Shivers said of his new coach. “That’s been a major factor for us, is that he stays positive and gives us energy. It’s something new.”

While Christian has often spoken about the need for the men’s program to be enthusiastic after going through an 8-24 campaign in former head coach Jimmy Patsos’ final season, Siena women’s head coach Ali Jaques is offering up a similar message. Jaques, entering her seventh season, started a habit earlier this summer of posting messages on social media expressing happiness in finding joy within her day-to-day routine.

“There’s a lot of negativity on Twitter, and it’s very easy to be on social media and to be negative,” Jaques said. “But we have a lot to be grateful for here and a lot to be happy about. . . . So let’s be happy about what we’ve got and the opportunity we have here.”

That is the goal for the men’s program, too. Since getting back to campus for the start of the fall semester, Shivers said the team has made a concerted effort to spend time together away from the court. Meeting up for breakfast has been common, and that time spent together not playing hoops has helped the program’s newcomers get comfortable in their new surroundings.

“Everyone’s been welcoming,” Siena freshman Jalen Pickett said. “It’s been great so far, and Coach is really pushing us to the limit.”

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Christian has the ability do that, too, given the number of players he has to work with as he builds toward the Saints’ Nov. 6 opener at Providence.

“And I like the 17 guys we have in our locker room,” Christian said of a group that includes four walk-on players. “You need to have that positive energy.”

And there was plenty of that at Wednesday’s event, which also saw multiple former Saints — including O.D. Anosike — stop by for a visit. Since coming to Siena from Mount St. Mary’s, Christian has participated in a number of community events, gatherings the new coach said have helped him start to connect with the passionate fan base that supports his program.

“These meet-and-greets have been great for my family and I,” Christian said. “We get to interact with so many different people that way.”

Reach Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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