LOUDONVILLE — As senior Manny Camper moved along through the checklist of variables he needs to make sure are all handled when it comes to making sure his jump shot is a consistent one, he received a smile and a thumbs-up from Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello.
Camper’s list includes making sure his “guide hand” is positioned correctly, his “shoulders are square” and he uses the “same footwork” on each shot. All those “little things” add up for Camper.
“Coach stresses that every day in practice for me,” Camper said during a teleconference Wednesday with area reporters.
Camper remade his shooting form after both his freshmen and sophomore seasons, and ended up back with a form close to the one-motion release with which he started. His overall shooting has been up and down a bit so far this season, but the consistency he’s developing with his form has helped the 6-foot-7 senior to a strong start from behind the 3-point line, where Camper has made 8 of 19 attempts for the 7-1 Saints after making 20 of 77 such shots in his first three college seasons.
“Just focusing on the little things, and then shooting it with confidence,” Camper said of his improved shot from 3-point range.
Camper had zero games with multiple 3-point makes during his freshman and sophomore campaigns. On three occasions, Camper made two 3s in a game last season — and he’s already had two such games this season, including last Saturday when Camper made 4 of 6 shots from 3-point territory.
While Camper has improved his 3-point shot, he’s continued to star as an all-around player. The senior is averaging 13.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game this season.
BACK IN THE MIX
Sophomore Kyle Young started Siena’s first seven games, then only played one minute off the bench during the team’s win last Saturday against Saint Peter’s.
Maciariello didn’t offer much direct comment after that game as to why Young played so little, instead focusing on why junior Jackson Stormo started at the 5.
“He’s a student of the game. I think we can execute with him,” Maciariello said of Stormo that night. “I think we showed with his play why he started — and we won the game. I was really happy with his effort.”
On Wednesday, Maciariello said Young “probably” will play more minutes this weekend at Marist.
“I think it depends on his week of practice and preparation, but I think, obviously, Kyle Young is integral to our success,” Maciariello said.
Young, Maciariello said, had delivered strong back-to-back days on Tuesday and Wednesday of practice and is “in a great, great place this week.”
The coach added: “And, now, we’ll shoot for two more great practices before we play Marist on Saturday.”
It was no small thing that Siena managed to win all the games it played when junior star Jalen Pickett was out because of a hamstring injury.
And the numbers back up how striking it was that the Saints accomplished that.
In the three games Pickett missed, Siena was a combined plus-18.
Meanwhile, in the five games Pickett has played this season, Siena is a combined plus-45 in the 179 minutes he’s been on the floor . . . and is a combined minus-13 in the 21 minutes he’s sat.
That Siena is better when Pickett is on the floor isn’t a surprise. He is Siena’s best player.
But it’s certainly notable that Siena was able to power to three wins without Pickett available at all, given how it’s performed in the few minutes he sits each game when he has played.
When Pickett does play, Maciariello said it has a “calming influence” for the rest of the Saints. He credited those other Saints, though, for not allowing the absence of the team’s top star to keep the club from winning.
“We found ways to win those games without him, which is a credit to Manny, and Jordan [King], and Aidan [Carpenter], and Colin Golson, and guys that stepped up, right?” Maciariello said. “I think we did it as a collective unit, and I think that’s the sign of a good team.”
Pickett returned to the Saints’ lineup against Saint Peter’s, but struggled with his shot during a weekend that he said he felt at “80, 85%” his normal self. Pickett made 4 of 19 shots in Siena’s games against Saint Peter’s, which the Saints split.
This upcoming weekend, at Marist?
“I’m ready to go,” Pickett said. “I don’t feel any pain. I think I’m 100%, so we’ll see how it goes.”