LOUDONVILLE — Her team, right now, is operating more as a collection of individuals than it is as a true group.
And that’s not to suggest there are chemistry or camaraderie issues with the Siena women’s basketball program. In fact, Siena head coach Ali Jaques has regularly praised her team for its maturity and cohesiveness amid this turbulent 2020-21 season.
But Jaques, her team days removed from its latest pandemic-related pause and still awaiting its latest round of COVID-19 test results, is trying to keep her players apart as much as possible during their first workouts this week in an effort to avoid another shutdown.
“I’ve got to figure out how to have one [player] of each position, if we can, [available] to play for the weekend,” Jaques said Wednesday during a teleconference with reporters.
Siena plays Sunday and Monday at Canisius, a 0-2 team visiting a 0-5 squad. It’s possible, though, that the Saints won’t have all their players available after resuming in-person team activities on Tuesday, so Jaques is taking unique measures to limit contact between her players until they’re able later this week to come together for a full-contact practice.
MAAC rules dictate this season that a team needs to have eight available scholarship players to be able to complete. To try to ensure Siena is able to meet that minimum and field a competitive team, Jaques said she has had one workout group made up of players that have previously tested positive for COVID-19 . . . other groups include roommates who are already close contacts with each other . . . then, consideration is given to keeping one point guard away from another, this center away from that center — and it goes on like that as the Saints try to build back up to their full team working out as one.
“This is what it is,” Jaques said. “We’ve got to make it work.”
And it’s a lot of work for Jaques, who said she logged 25,000 steps Tuesday as she put her players through all those separate small-group workouts.
“It’s a challenge. It’s nothing we can’t overcome,” Jaques said. “Just takes a bit of planning and being able to adjust.”
The goal, though, is to have at least one full practice prior to Siena playing its first game since Dec. 12. That won’t leave the Saints as prepared as possible, obviously, to play — but it will have them capable of getting onto the court.
“My goal,” Jaques said, “is to get our team into two games this weekend — somehow.”
After a promising freshman season that saw her make seven starts, Julia Hauer has yet to play during her sophomore season.
That, Jaques said, will continue to be the case.
“She’s away from the team indefinitely for personal reasons,” Jaques said of Hauer’s status with the Saints.
Hauer didn’t play in either of Siena’s season-opening losses against Fairfield. A 5-foot-9 forward from Binghamton, Hauer averaged 6.3 points and 4.4 rebounds in 18.8 minutes per game last season.
COULD PHILOXY PLAY?
Jaques offered an “I hope so,” when asked Wednesday if it’s possible that transfer Selena Philoxy — who joined Siena’s program earlier this month — could play this season for the Saints.
The NCAA’s Division I Council approved a measure earlier this month that granted all transfers immediate eligibility for the 2020-21 season, but that decision does not apply to a player — such as Philoxy — who wasn’t at his or her current school at the start of the 2020-21 academic year.
“But I certainly hope the NCAA takes a serious look at her case,” Jaques said.
Philoxy started the academic year at Stetson. Philoxy never played at Stetson, and arrived at that school after starting her college career with Seton Hall.
Philoxy, a 6-foot-0 native of Queens, averaged 2.8 points and 6.9 rebounds in 17 games last season at Seton Hall. As a sophomore, Philoxy averaged 5.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.