LOUDONVILLE — Home vs. Canisius?
Away at Fairfield?
That was Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello’s thinking related to this week’s scheduling change for his Saints, which the MAAC announced Wednesday evening.
“What we want to do is, when we have the opportunity to play, whatever we can do to accommodate that, to help the league out, we want to be able to do that,” Maciariello said Thursday during a teleconference with reporters. “Right? We’re in this thing together and it’s about getting to March and Atlantic City to play the MAAC tournament.”
Maciariello’s club was supposed to host Canisius, and Fairfield was supposed to play Saint Peter’s, but when those opponents couldn’t play this weekend because of issues related to the novel coronavirus pandemic — Canisius paused in-person team activities after it had a positive COVID-19 test result, and Saint Peter’s needed to undergo contact tracing since it played the Golden Griffins last weekend — Siena instead got rerouted to Fairfield. That means Siena is playing on the road rather than at home, but Maciariello doesn’t see that as a problem in the grand scheme of this season played amid a pandemic that led to the cancellation of the 2019-20 season.
“What our guys want to do is play,” said Maciariello, whose team experienced three separates pandemic-related pauses prior to finally playing its first game last Sunday. “We want to keep them as safe as possible, but we’re healthy and we want to be able to play.”
And, certainly, it’s easier to have that approach for a club like Siena, which is the preseason MAAC favorite and is coming off an impressive back-to-back showing against Monmouth to start its season. Going back to last season, the Saints have won a dozen games in a row.
So . . .
“Regardless of who we’re playing, we’re excited to be playing,” Maciariello said.
He added: “We’re just thankful to be on the court.”
SETTING THE STAGE
While Siena was scheduled to play Canisius on Friday and Saturday, its games against Fairfield are set for Saturday and Sunday. Each game will start at 4 p.m.
While Siena is 2-0, Fairfield is 2-9 overall and 2-4 in MAAC play. While Fairfield has mostly struggled this season, the Stags are capable of putting together an impressive game; their first win was a 67-52 win against Iona and their second was a 72-56 win against Rider.
Siena swept Fairfield in each of the last two seasons.
Maciariello didn’t rule out freshmen Aidan Carpenter and Colin Golson for this weekend’s games, but said “nothing’s changed” in terms of their status after missing Siena’s opening two games.
“I’m not sure we’ll have either of them,” Maciariello said.
Carpenter missed Siena’s opening games with what the program termed a “minor injury,” while Golson had not yet cleared COVID-19 protocols.
In his first games as a Saint, graduate student Nick Hopkins — a transfer from Belmont — played exactly the role Siena hoped he could when he joined the program.
The 6-foot-0 guard provided steady play, solid shooting and quality perimeter defense. There was nothing flashy to Hopkins’ opening efforts against Monmouth, but he averaged 12.5 points, two rebounds and two assists per game in those matchups, and made 6 of 13 shots from 3-point territory.
“He’s just been such a welcome addition,” Maciariello said. “Love his character, his demeanor and his coachability. He’s been great. We’re enthused to have him as a Saint.”