LOUDONVILLE — Will Jalen Pickett play during Siena’s upcoming men’s basketball games at Rider?
Saints head coach Carmen Maciariello isn’t sure — and isn’t spending a lot of time worrying about it, either.
“Regardless who is in and who is out,” Maciariello said Wednesday during a teleconference with reporters, “we have a job to do.”
That job is to win games, and Siena is on one of the best stretches in program history at doing that. The Saints’ win last Sunday — at Fairfield, without Pickett (hamstring) in the lineup — was the team’s 14th in a row going back to last season, a streak that is one shy of matching the program’s Division I record of 15 consecutive wins set during the 2009-10 season.
Heading into Friday’s and Saturday’s games against a Rider (3-5 MAAC, 3-8 overall) team coming off a 66-55 loss at Niagara, Siena (4-0, 4-0) hasn’t lost since a Feb. 2, 2020 game at Saint Peter’s.
“It would mean a lot. I grew up watching Siena my whole life. I’ve been to a lot of games,” Siena sophomore Jordan King, an Albany native, said of the Saints potentially matching the program’s Division I record for consecutive wins. “Just knowing I could be a part of history, it just feels good, so I definitely want to contribute to that.”
Pickett, the reigning MAAC Player of the Year, injured his right hamstring during last Saturday’s win against Fairfield and didn’t play the next day. Maciariello said the 6-foot-4 guard is receiving treatment for the injury three times per day this week, but that the Saints won’t know until after Friday’s pregame shootaround if Pickett will play.
“I’m not expecting him to have any practices in [leading up to Friday’s game] because I don’t want to risk bringing him back too early,” Maciariello said.
Pickett is averaging a team-high 17.7 points per game, plus 9.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists. With Pickett out last Sunday, freshman Aidan Carpenter started and scored 19 points on his way to earning MAAC Rookie of the Week honors.
While Maciariello labeled Pickett’s injury a “minor” one, he also cautioned that the Saints want Pickett “to be 100%” before he rejoins the team’s lineup.
“That’s why it’s a team game,” Maciariello said.
Heading into Siena’s games at Rider, Maciariello said that freshman Colin Golson (COVID-19 protocol) and senior Denzel Tchougang (knee) are each on track to be available to play for the first time this season.
‘NOT A ONE-MAN SHOW’
During a Wednesday teleconference, Rider head coach Kevin Baggett said his team will prepare as if Pickett is going to play.
“To be honest with you, as a coach, I hate when guys are out,” Baggett said.
Baggett said he worries it creates a “mentality” that “it’s going to get easier” to beat a team when it has a star missing.
“But Siena is very good,” Baggett said. “We’re going to prepare for Pickett. If he’s there, fine. If he’s not there, fine. But they’re talented, top to bottom.”
He added: “It’s not a one-man show. He’s the leader of the show, but it’s not a one-man show, by no means.”
Sophomore Kyle Young, Siena’s starting 5, knows he needs to — and can — give 100% effort the whole time he’s on the floor.
“Because I know I’m coming out, so why save some of that energy?” Young said.
So far this season, Young has averaged 16.3 minutes per game and backup center Jackson Stormo has averaged 19.3 minutes. While graduate student Harrison Curry — seven minutes per game — has played some minutes at the 5, Stormo and Young have essentially served as a two-man team at the position.
Generally, neither Stormo nor Young has played more than several consecutive minutes.
“Quick bursts means you can play as hard as you can for those few minutes,” said Stormo, a junior. “So you try to go in there with high energy, do exactly what you’re supposed to do and play hard.”
Stormo is averaging 10.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, while Young is averaging 9.8 points and five rebounds.