Maciariello: ‘Truly a dream come true’ to coach Siena basketball

Shenendehowa graduate, Siena alumnus becomes college's 18th men's basketball head coach
Carmen Maciariello, with daughter Reese and wife Laura, is the new Siena head coach.
Carmen Maciariello, with daughter Reese and wife Laura, is the new Siena head coach.

ALBANY — In the last few days, ever since it became clear he was set to become the next Siena College men’s basketball head coach, Carmen Maciariello received thousands of messages offering congratulations and encouragement.

And, wife Laura Maciariello said, at least one from a wisecracking friend: “Do you think you’re the only Division I head coach living with his parents?”

In the time Carmen Maciariello spent working as an assistant coach for former Siena head coach Jamion Christian — who, last Thursday, accepted the head coaching position at George Washington University after less than 11 months as Siena’s coach — that’s where the 40-year-old Maciariello lived with his wife and 2-year-old daughter Reese. Back home, in Clifton Park, staying at his latest temporary residence in an adult life full of them because of the transient lifestyle a Division I assistant coach leads.

That changes now for Maciariello, who was hired Monday as Siena’s 18th head coach and introduced Tuesday at Times Union Center in that role at his alma mater. After working on college coaching staffs at five different schools in the last 11 seasons, Maciariello finally gets to make his own schedule and control his own path forward.

Part of that path forward? Finishing up purchasing a house in Ballston Lake, a move that was in the works well before Christian’s departure.

“It’s such a relief,” said Maciariello, who signed a four-year contract Monday. “I’ve always been renting apartments. Worrying about finding daycare and different things. Now, we’ll be able to have our own space. To own something. I’ve owned my car, and that’s really been about it.”

Maciariello said it is “truly a dream come true” to get the chance to lead his alma mater, a school he referenced Tuesday repeatedly as “home.” With a large contingent of family and friends at Times Union Center for Tuesday’s ceremony, Maciariello credited them for their years of support as he pursued working his way through the college coaching ranks without the promise a head coaching spot would ever belong to him.

“My family always let me chase my dreams, and this isn’t a profession where it’s easy to do,” Maciariello said. “There’s a lot of roadblocks, and your journey is never a straight path. And, so, I just appreciate them for letting me have that opportunity to chase and chase and chase.”

That chase ended for Maciariello at Siena after a whirlwind few days. Christian departed Thursday, Maciariello was quickly named the program’s interim head coach and Maciariello was meeting the next day at 7:30 a.m. with Siena athletic director John D’Argenio to interview for the full-time position. Paperwork got filled out Monday to make it official, but Maciariello’s promotion was mostly set by Saturday’s conclusion

“By Sunday,” D’Argenio said, “there wasn’t a lot to do.”

Working quickly, D’Argenio said, was Siena’s desire so that the Saints could continue to build on their 2018-19 season, which saw them go 17-16 after finishing 8-24 in the previous season. It is no secret that partially was done to try to convince players to stay with the program — notably, junior Elijah Burns and sophomore Don Carey have already said they will; freshmen Jalen Pickett and Sloan Seymour are still deciding — but D’Argenio said moving quickly was only possible because of the school’s confidence in Maciariello.

“We wanted to step through it quickly because we knew Carm was there,” said D’Argenio, who said no other candidates were considered during the process. “We had the right person here. If we knew that’s who we wanted to be the head coach, why stretch it out?”

Siena redshirt freshman Jimmy Ratliff said the players were “pushing” for Maciariello, a 1996 Shenendehowa graduate who was inducted into the Capital District Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012. Siena’s roster of players largely showed up for Maciariello’s press conference in a show of support for him.

“The feeling in the locker room,” Burns said, “is that everyone is excited to get to work.”

Maciariello said he plans to have his coaching staff in place within the next week. Offseason workouts started Monday for the Saints.

“Let’s talk big picture,” Maciariello said. “We want to have sustainable success, and we want to be able to compete and win MAAC championships every year. That’s what it’s about. Fran [McCaffery] proved you could do it here. Those are big footsteps, that’s a big name to bring up, but you can’t be scared of the name.”

Maciariello worked for one season as director of basketball operations at Siena for McCaffery, who led Siena to three consecutive NCAA tournament berths starting in 2008 before leaving to become the head coach at Iowa in 2010. While some roster work is needed before next season, Maciariello said there are ingredients in place for the Saints to compete at a high level right away.

“The foundation,” Maciariello said, “is here.”

So, too, is home for Maciariello. That things worked out the way they did have left Maciariello and his wife “still in shock” days after he was offered for the first time the opportunity to lead a Division I program.

“In this profession, your stars sort of have to align a little bit, in addition to you being good at what you do,” said Laura Maciariello, a Boston native who met her husband when he was coaching at Boston University. “That’s the case here. We just feel so lucky.”

Known as a dogged recruiter, Carmen Maciariello said his areas of focus in the next few days will be hiring assistant coaches and continuing to spend time with his current players. Finding more players to augment Siena’s roster, he said, will wait a bit.

“I want to make sure our guys here are taken care of first,” Maciariello said.

Stability is something Siena’s flagship athletic program has lacked in the last year.

That, Maciariello said, is about to change.

“We’re going to have an opportunity to do some special things here,” Maciariello said, “and I don’t plan on leaving.”

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

Categories: -Sports, College Sports, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

Leave a Reply