Albany County

Carey developing away from court for Siena men’s basketball

Sophomore is sitting out the 2018-19 season
Don Carey takes a shot during a recent practice.
Don Carey takes a shot during a recent practice.

LOUDONVILLE — On the practice floor, it is not uncommon for Don Carey to look like the top player within the Siena College men’s basketball program.

That’s the only place, though, to see the 6-foot-5 sophomore guard in action this season as he sits out the campaign following his transfer from Mount St. Mary’s to stay with head coach Jamion Christian. During those practices, Carey often takes on the role as the top offensive threat on the scout team to help the Saints get ready for games such as Saturday’s noon contest at Holy Cross.

“That helps him grow his game,” Christian said, “and also helps us defensively.”

That second part is important for Siena, but the first part is what matters the most toward realizing Christian’s long-term vision for what the Saints could become in the seasons ahead. Siena already has one backcourt building block in freshman Jalen Pickett, the team’s per-game leader in points, assists and steals. Christian sees Carey, with his size and skill set, as an ideal complement for Pickett in the backcourt.

“Our system is really built on having point guards at the 1 and the 2,” said Christian, whose starting 2 this season — sophomore Manny Camper — was originally pegged to play the 3 before a season-ending injury to junior guard Khalil Richard during the preseason. “So this is an uncharacteristic year for us. . . . When [Carey and Pickett] can play off each other, I think our assists will go way up next season.”

Carey, like Pickett, projects as a high-level MAAC player. Christian sees potential for Carey to play beyond Siena, too. As a freshman at Mount St. Mary’s, Carey started all 32 games and averaged 9.0 points per game on solid shooting percentages from all parts of the floor. At 6-foot-5, Carey is a tall guard — and his wingspan, Christian said, has been measured to be more in line with someone who is a few inches taller.

“He’s someone that could play on the next level,” Christian said. “So we’re trying to use his time to fine-tune his game so that he can be one of the best guards in the country next season.”

On the court, that means Carey has worked to expand his array of moves attacking the basket. The focus there, Carey said, has been on eliminating extra dribbles so he can get to the rim quicker. Siena assistant coach Graham Bousley, Christian said, works the most with Carey in adding new moves to the player’s repertoire. 

“I’m trying to learn to be more efficient,” Carey said.

Away from the court, though, is where Carey is putting in the most work. Earlier this season, he took nearly a month off to rest a hurting foot and to focus on strengthening his body. Listed at 185 pounds, Carey said he has gained at least five pounds since getting to Siena because of the extra time he has spent in the weight room.

Throughout this season, too, Carey has spent ample time watching game footage with the team’s coaching staff. Partially, that is to continue educating Carey on how the college game is played, but Christian said what’s more important from that time is to empower Carey.

“Guys do get a little frustrated [with not being able to play]. One thing we’ve tried to do is we’ve made him like an offensive assistant. He watches film with Bousley and does stuff like that, so that creates a lot of ownership for him,” Christian said. “Everybody needs a sense of purpose.”

On days of home games, Carey often heads to Times Union Center early in the afternoon to get in an extra full workout. He is off the floor before his teammates start warming up, at which point he becomes an extra cheerleader for the Saints. Not being able to play in games, he said, has gotten easier as the season has gone along.

“At the end of the day, I’m still helping these guys get better,” Carey said. “I’m still a part of the program, and I’m just trying to help us win.”

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

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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