LOUDONVILLE — If everything goes to plan, the Siena men’s basketball program will complete its pause of in-person activities and get back to on-court work Friday.
That was supposed to be the off day in between Siena’s opening games against UMass and Delaware inside “Bubbleville” at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Now, Siena’s shifting plan moves to trying to get ready to play some non-conference games — somewhere — in early December.
“These guys have done a great job of just staying the course and doing the things they can do in their rooms while they’re quarantining,” Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello said Wednesday. “So I don’t think they’re greatly out of shape. We were in great shape when we went into the quarantine, and, hopefully, we’re in better shape mentally.”
Still, as long as the Saints receive the medical-related OKs needed for them to end the pause that started with two Tier 1 program members testing positive for the novel coronavirus, the team will take it relatively slow for at least a couple days after not practicing since Nov. 12. Maciariello said a first day back for the Saints will likely include shooting and time in the weight room, plus some time working through 5-on-0 sessions.
“It’s a work in progress,” Maciariello said, “but we’ll be fine.”
Division I basketball teams were allowed to start playing games Wednesday, but none of the Capital Region’s teams played. Each of the men’s and women’s teams at Siena and UAlbany have needed to reshuffle their schedules as each has dealt with coronavirus-related pauses, and — at the moment — Maciariello’s team appears on track to be the first of the area’s teams to play.
A second-year head coach whose team won last season’s MAAC regular-season title and looked on its way to winning the league tournament prior to that in-progress tournament’s pandemic-related cancellation, Maciariello said he still is trying to see if the Saints could play multiple games at Mohegan Sun Arena. The schedule for “Bubbleville” changes nearly every day as teams are determined to be unable to play because of coronavirus issues, so it does seem realistic that Siena could find its way to playing some games at Mohegan Sun Arena as able-to-play teams seek alternative opponents.
“But we’ve got to wait and see how these guys are when they get out of quarantine,” Maciariello said. “We’re going to wait and see, so that’s still very fluid. There’s a couple teams looking for games, so I’m hoping we can play one or two there, and, if not, I’m hoping we can one or two [at another venue], regardless.”
Maciariello said he is targeting playing games during the first weekend of December, but could try to play as early as next Wednesday if his team can find an opponent and it’s determined the Saints are ready to play a game.
“If the right opponents were to come and say they could us [Dec. 2 or 3], I’d talk to our people about seeing if we could make that happen,” said Maciarielo, whose team starts MAAC play Dec. 11 at Fairfield and currently has one non-conference game — Dec. 22 at Drexel — confirmed with a contract.
Off last season’s 20-10 campaign that ended with a 10-game winning streak, Maciariello said it hasn’t been easy to find takers to play the preseason MAAC favorite. That’s been true, Maciariello said, even as teams struggle to keep games on their schedules because of coronavirus-related pauses.
“You would hope [it would help us with scheduling], but it hasn’t,” Maciariello said. “A lot of teams aren’t going to play Siena.”
The Siena women’s basketball team’s pause remains likely to last into early next week.