Albany County

Positive change for Siena’s Friday started with … making his own bed?

Doing that task each day was Jamion Christian's first challenge for the junior
Sammy Friday dunks during Friday's Siena basketball practice.
Sammy Friday dunks during Friday's Siena basketball practice.

LOUDONVILLE — It was an odd request.

But it came from Jamion Christian, Siena College’s new men’s basketball head coach, so junior big man Sammy Friday took it seriously.

“I want you to make your bed every day,” Christian told Friday, not long after the coach’s hire in early May. “Do you think you can do that?”

Friday nodded in agreement. He’d try something new for his new coach.

“I used to wake up,” Friday said, “and just leave the covers all over the place.”

But each day for the last five months, Friday has tidied his bed immediately after getting up from it. Christian — whose program held its media day Friday — had told him successful people start their day that way, and Sammy Friday badly wants to be successful after a pair of inconsistent seasons with the Saints.

“So that was one of the first challenges I gave him,” Christian said. “When he started doing that every single day, I could see a change start in him.”

That new early-morning routine started each day with a purpose for Friday, who slimmed down and added muscle to his 6-foot-9 frame during the offseason. He weighs 239 pounds now, and is quicker on the court — plus more capable of running up and down it for longer than short bursts. The diligence to get himself equipped to play in Christian’s frenetic system, Friday said, starts with the way he now starts each day.

“Now, I always have one task complete right away,” Friday said. “Throughout the day, that makes you feel good, and you know you already have that one thing done and you can get onto your next thing.”

Christian text messages Friday here and there to make sure he is keeping up with the task. Other times, Friday offers up updates on his own. That the player took the odd request so seriously struck Christian, who thinks Friday possesses “elite talent” that could be unleashed on the MAAC if the player is properly motivated.

“That he [did that] said to me that he was a guy who is going to be coachable and is going to listen,” Christian said, “and that he’s someone who is willing to be at his best when nobody is watching him.”

During Friday’s freshman and sophomore seasons, he was prone to bouts of inconsistency. One game last season, at Louisville, Friday put together a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Most of the time, though, Friday offered minimal contributions during two seasons playing for former Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos. In 51 career games, Friday has averaged 1.9 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.

“But he always had days where you’d leave the gym and you were like, ‘Oh my God — why is he at Siena? He should be somewhere higher,’” Siena junior Thomas Huerter said. “Now, he’s having more days like that. He’s assertive with what he does on the court. Now, his good days are his average days. He’s really been a beast all summer and all fall.”

Friday’s confidence has grown, too. That has been obvious to everyone around him, and helping that come to fruition was one of Christian’s main goals when it comes to the talented big man.

“I’m all about each one of these guys being who they are. College is about finding out who you are as a person, and embracing that. I try not to be a person who gets in the way of that,” Christian said. “You look at Sammy, and he’s got a great personality. He’s funny. He’s smart. He just has all these things going for him, and I just wanted to make sure he was being the best he could be in every area.

“Really,” Christian added, “all the stuff we’ve done with Sammy hasn’t been about on the floor. It’s been about empowering him to be the person that we believe he can be, and the person he wants to be.”

One of those choices for Friday will be shown on the back of his jersey for the upcoming season, which starts Nov. 6 at Providence. Along with his No. 35, Friday’s jersey will be adorned with “Friday IV.” He said he’s not sure in the past if he had even told any of his teammates that he has a fourth-generation full name, but Friday said that displaying that for all to see is a change he is proud to have made.

“I just felt like we had a new coach and a new culture here,” Friday said. “I wanted to switch it up a bit, too.”

One thing he won’t change is how he starts every day. Making his bed is one of those little things that helps add up to something bigger for Friday — and he has gotten pretty good at the whole thing, too.

“I put the covers and pillows just right,” Friday said. “I put the pillows on top so it looks good. It feels good, too, coming back to that.”

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

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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