Albany County

Siena men’s basketball to discuss standing vs. kneeling for national anthem

Siena men's basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello, right, is shown during the Saints' media-day event earlier this year. (Gazette file photo)

Siena men's basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello, right, is shown during the Saints' media-day event earlier this year. (Gazette file photo)

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, College Sports, Sports

LOUDONVILLE — Carmen Maciariello said Wednesday he is still talking with coaches from other programs, trying to find a non-conference game prior to the Siena men’s basketball team’s Dec. 11 MAAC opener at Fairfield.

In the next couple days, too, Maciariello said he expects his Saints to discuss if they will stand, kneel or do something else during the national anthem prior to games this season.

“And I’m fine with whatever these guys want to do,” Maciariello said during a teleconference with reporters. “I just want them to make sure they communicate that with us and they understand what they’re doing. This is about education. That’s what college is for.

“And I know our president [Chris Gibson], obviously, was in the military, but every man in the military fought for us to all have our own freedoms. So, whatever these guys want to do, I’ll be fine with. We may have guys that want to do one thing and another guy who wants to do another. At the end of the day, I think that’s what makes this country such a beautiful place.”

Colin Kaepernick knelt during the playing of the national anthem more than four years ago when he was a quarterback on the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. Since then, other athletes have similarly knelt or offered some type of demonstration during the playing of the national anthem to raise awareness of social injustices. In the last year, particularly after the death of George Floyd while in police custody, the movement to do something other than stand during the national anthem has continued and expanded.

Siena senior Manny Camper, a co-captain for the Saints, said he’s “not sure” what the Saints will opt to do before games.

“We’re going to get together as a group to see what most people want to do,” Camper said.

Earlier this week, the Siena athletic department’s social-media account posted images of a “MAAC UNITED FOR JUSTICE” decal being placed onto the basketball court at Alumni Recreation Center. That’s the regular home court for the Siena women’s basketball team and the temporary home court for the Siena men’s basketball team, which won’t play any games at its normal home court at the Times Union Center in Albany until some time next year because of issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.

As a conference, the MAAC announced in August the start of its “MAAC United for Justice” campaign, which the league said “will work to address the long-standing history of systemic racism and inequality that minorities in this country have and still currently face, with a goal to educate those around us and to create substantial change in our communities.”

Among other measures meant to promote social justice awareness, Siena plans to wear black uniforms for several games. During the summer, Maciariello helped launch Coaches 4 Change, a group whose “mission . . . is to provide a platform that engages, educates, empowers, and evolves the collegiate student-athlete on issues of social injustices, systemic racism, and the power of voting in the endless pursuit of equality.”

STILL TRYING

Division I teams were allowed to start playing games Nov. 25, but the Saints’ non-conference schedule “is still a work in progress.”

Maciariello, whose team needed to revamp — again — its non-conference schedule following its coronavirus-related pause that ended last Friday, said Wednesday that the biggest obstacle for the Saints in scheduling a game or two prior to next week’s MAAC opener at Fairfield is “teams being transparent and honest.”

“Now,” Maciariello said, “I see why a lot of head coaches don’t deal with scheduling.”

Often, that task is left largely to assistant coaches. The problem for the Saints, Maciariello said, is that teams have expressed interest in playing them, “but, then, they don’t want to commit to a game that they’re not 100% sure they’re going to win.”

Maciariello said next Tuesday is likely the last day Siena could play to get in a game before taking on Fairfield . . . which means the second-year head coach of the preseason MAAC favorite will continue trying to schedule a game through Monday.

“You see teams scheduling games [for] the next day,” Maciariello said. “So, if somebody said they wanted to play, and I think it’s right for our ball club, we’ll do it.”

THREE TO GO

Maciariello confirmed his two returning All-MAAC first-team selections, Camper and junior Jalen Pickett, will start this season.

The other three spots in that starting five, though, remain up for grabs.

“We’re still letting the competition work itself out in practice,” Maciariello said.

The coach, though, did offer some hints. Maciariello said either sophomore Kyle Young or junior Jackson Stormo will start at center, so the Saints do plan to play with a traditional 5. Maciariello also spoke highly of the versatility and approach of freshmen Aidan Carpenter and Colin Golson.

“I think that’s the biggest thing that Aidan and Colin both bring to our program, is their toughness, tenacity,” Maciariello said. “They just want to compete, and I think just like . . . with Manny and Jalen, it’s great any time you can bring hard-playing dudes that want to get to work and just compete. I think that’s how you build a foundation of a program for years to come.”

Besides Carpenter, Maciariello mentioned sophomore Jordan King and graduate transfer Nick Hopkins as options to start in the backcourt with Pickett.

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