LOUDONVILLE — In all likelihood, if things go well for the Saints, they’ll get another chance Saturday to prove themselves in a close game.
So far this season, the Siena men’s basketball team has decisively won two games, lost at Xavier by 18 points and suffered a pair of hard-fought losses on the road against top teams from the Ivy League. Siena is a few plays away from a 4-1 start, but instead brings a 2-3 mark with it to Colgate for Saturday’s 2 p.m. game in Hamilton.
“I think we’re right there,” Siena redshirt sophomore Don Carey said. “We just have to dig a little deeper.”
“The biggest thing is just discipline . . . [to] value every possession,” Siena junior Manny Camper said. “We had a lot of possessions [against Harvard and Yale] that we wasted, whether it was [with] a turnover or bad shot selection.”
Colgate was the preseason favorite in the Patriot League and brings a three-game winning streak into its matchup with Siena. At 4-3 on the season, Colgate’s losses were suffered against Auburn, Clemson and Syracuse. Colgate, which topped Siena 84-79 last year, has won 15 consecutive games against non-Power 5 opponents.
While Colgate has played a tougher schedule to this point than the Saints, Siena heads into its sixth game well-tested and well-rested. Siena’s first five opponents expect to contend in their respective leagues, while the Saints’ matchup at Colgate is the second of three games they will play in a 36-day stretch.
Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello said he wants his program to play “as many teams that are champions as possible” before MAAC play arrives.
“All those teams are going to contend and that’s what we hope for, is every year contend for a MAAC title,” Maciariello said, “and you can’t do that if you don’t play against the best and test yourself, and see what kind of . . . warts that you have to fix.”
Through Siena’s first batch of games, the Saints have struggled in a few key areas. The team has not received much offensive production from players outside of fifth-year senior Elijah Burns, Camper, Carey and sophomore Jalen Pickett. Meanwhile, perimeter shooting has been inconsistent, and the Saints’ shot selection has been partially to blame for that.
Offensive execution down the stretch, though, has been the Saints’ main problem in their pair of close games. Siena had chances to seal wins at Harvard and Yale with a key basket in a big spot, but instead left both of those games with defeats.
“We’re doing a great job getting stops, but we’ve just got to figure out a way to score late in the game,” Pickett said.
Siena’s game at Colgate is the third in a stretch of four consecutive road games. After playing next weekend at Cal Poly, Siena plays four consecutive home games.