Siena basketball programs hold fan event

Christian after 1st scrimmage: 'I just love my team'
From left, Jamion Christian, A.J. Kanell and Ali Jaques are shown Monday in Albany.
From left, Jamion Christian, A.J. Kanell and Ali Jaques are shown Monday in Albany.

ALBANY — In the last five-plus months, Jamion Christian has been busy installing his “Mayhem” system at Siena College.

During that time, Christian hired a coaching staff, brought in eight new players, and has used events like Monday’s KeyBank Siena Basketball Sneak Preview fan event at Times Union Center to meet some of his program’s most passionate fans.

And Monday, Christian got to finally see his new home court at the event featuring both Siena basketball programs.

“It’s the first time I’ve had a chance to see the arena in game setup,” said Christian, a wide smile on his face.

Christian has been at Times Union Center several times since his hire, starting with his introductory press conference in early May. Monday, though, was the first time the hardwood court was down and the baskets were out for Christian to see in the arena.

Christian’s team will hold its first practice in its home arena Tuesday after spending the bulk of its preseason on campus. The arena will mostly be empty for that workout, but Christian said part of his vision for the program is putting together a team that draws packed crowds during the regular season.

“That’s the goal for us,” Christian said. “When we become an elite program, we’ll pack this place every single night. We’re working for that opportunity right now.”

That’s on the court — and off it, too. Siena redshirt senior Kadeem Smithen said the latter is where the Saints have grown the most during their offseason.

“It’s how close our team has come together,” Smithen said. “We’ve grown together. You can see that off the court with us, and you’ll see that on the court, too.”

First UMass, then LIU Brooklyn

Before scrimmaging LIU Brooklyn this weekend, Siena scrimmaged UMass last weekend.

So, who started?

Creatively, Christian largely avoided offering up too much information.

“Great question,” Christian said. “We started a few different lineups.”

Siena used different lineups to start each half against UMass, plus a third one for an extra session the teams played. Christian only singled out one player as seeming to have an inside track to earning a starting spot.

“Obviously, we do have some guys who we’re more comfortable with, like Evan Fisher,” said Christian, referring to Siena’s senior big man. “That’s a guy we’re comfortable with.”

Christian said his eventual starting five might not include the five players who finish games for the Saints, but that his plan will be to maintain a consistent starting lineup.

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“I’m not a big changer of starting lineups,” Christian said. “I’m a big believer in getting everyone into a routine. I think having a routine breeds confidence.”

With Mount St. Mary’s, Christian used five starting lineups last season. Meanwhile, in the final season of Jimmy Patsos’ tenure as Siena’s head coach, the Saints used 19 different starting fives.

In general, Christian was pleased with the way the Saints handled their first chance to compete against another squad.

“I just love my team,” Christian said, “and I fell more in love with them after having the chance to compete with them.”

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

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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