women’s college basketball
Siena’s Young feels fortunate
LOUDONVILLE — To say the least, it’s been a longer college career than Siena women’s basketball’s Isis Young expected.
Or wanted, to be honest.
“Can you imagine,” Young said, “telling an 18-year-old that you’ll still be [in college] when you’re 25?”
Smiling and laughing, Young added: “That’s scary.”
But Young is at Siena, and will turn 25 years old before the 2020-21 academic year is complete. A long road brought Young to Siena to play point guard for head coach Ali Jaques’ program, and it’s one that has seen the 24-year-old from New Jersey twice tear her right ACL, attend three colleges prior to Siena and accrue a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees during a college career that started back in 2014.
It’s the type of path that has left Young, already a captain for the Saints despite only committing to join the program several months ago, knowing exactly what she wants as her college career winds down with her seventh season as a member of a Division I program.
“I want to come here, to win 20 games, win a MAAC championship — and then I want to go play overseas,” the 5-foot-7 Young, a graduate student, said at Thursday’s media-day event for the Siena program. “That’s really the goal. Short and sweet.”
Siena is coming off an 11-18 season, but one that closed with the youthful Saints winning eight of their final 13 games. The Saints were picked to finish sixth in the MAAC’s preseason coaches poll released Thursday, and junior Amari Anthony and senior Rayshel Brown earned preseason third-team honors, but Young is the player most likely to have the biggest say — literally, perhaps — in what type of improvement the Saints are able to show this season.
“Ice came in and wasn’t afraid to hold people accountable,” said Jaques, who also named senior Marilena Gerostergiou a captain for the upcoming season that’s expected to start with an opening-night game on Nov. 25 at home for the Saints against a yet-to-be-confirmed opponent.
While college athletes generally need to complete their four seasons of competition in five academic years, Young’s injury history has allowed her to obtain waivers to extend her eligibility window. Young started her college career at Florida as a four-star recruit, but didn’t play in her first college season after tearing her right knee’s ACL during her senior season of high school. She played the next season at Florida, then transferred to Syracuse, where she sat out one season, then played the next two seasons. Young transferred to Fordham for the 2019-20 season, but re-tore her right ACL during the preseason and never played for the school.
Instead, while she earned a master’s degree from Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business, she worked as a broadcaster, mostly for games on ESPN+ . . . putting to use the communications bachelor’s degree she earned at Syracuse and master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from the university’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
“I was everywhere,” Young said of her 2019-20 season spent broadcasting, which included working a Siena game during which she interviewed Jaques as a sideline reporter. “I had to keep busy with not playing.”
Young said her experience at Fordham was a positive one, but that there wasn’t a scholarship at Fordham for her for this season — “They didn’t expect me to be there for more than one year” — so she looked to transfer one last time. She connected with Jaques, who described the team’s past lack of a true point guard Thursday as its “Achilles’ heel,” and Young had found her final college.
On that point, Young is positive. Siena, where she’s enrolled in the school’s MBA program, is the final college for her — and this upcoming season, as long as there is something close to a full one played, will be her final collegiate season despite the NCAA’s pandemic-related recent ruling that all winter athletes are eligible for an extra year of eligibility.
“If we play 20 games this season, I should be done,” Young said when asked if she’d consider spending an eighth academic year in college.
While a professional playing career overseas is what Young wants to start next year, she’s in no rush to leave the Saints. Brown is a friend from time spent playing AAU basketball, and Young knows she can play a pivotal role for the Saints to close out a college career that has only seen her play 900 total minutes spread across the three seasons in which she’s actually played in games. Her right knee is “completely great,” and she’s excited for the opportunity to lead a team.
“I was just honored,” Young said of being named a co-captain. “I feel like it comes with a lot of responsibility, but that’s not scary to me. I welcome the challenge.”
Jaques said Young has quickly become the player she communicates most with about the team’s trajectory.
“I think, for her, she has a lot of confidence in me because I’m older and because she knows I take it very serious,” Young said.
That serious approach showed in Young’s response Thursday about anticipating the season’s start being only weeks away despite a pandemic seemingly threatening the existence of that season each day.
“We do all the right things [in terms of following safety protocols], and I think as a captain I have to make sure of that, and hold [my teammates] accountable to that. I stress to them every day that I’m just grateful to be here. You know? I’ve had two knee surgeries. . . . It’s my seventh year. So, for me, it’s a privilege to practice every day. It’s 100% a privilege,” Young said. “I think, sometimes, when you’re young, you don’t realize that. But, you know, seven years later and I’m still here and able to play — and our first game is in less than three weeks. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that we get there and I trust that my team will do the same.”
MANHATTAN PICKED NO. 1
In a tight race at the top, Manhattan earned the No. 1 spot in the MAAC’s preseason coaches poll.
With 109 voting points, Manhattan barely edged Fairfield and Quinnipiac, which tied for second place with 108. Manhattan received five first-place votes, Fairfield received four and Quinnipiac had two.
Lou Lopez-Senechal of Fairfield was named the league’s preseason player of the year.
MAAC PRESEASON COACHES POLL
(First place votes-total
1) Manhattan (5-109)
2) Fairfield (4-108)
2) Quinnipiac (2-108)
4) Marist (0-82)
5) Iona (0-66)
6) Siena (0-65)
7) Rider (0-61)
8) Monmouth (0-49)
9) Saint Peter’s (0-39)
10) Niagara (0-20)
11) Canisius (0-19)