LOUDONVILLE — The Siena women’s basketball team won’t play this weekend at Quinnipiac after the program announced Friday night that it had new “positive COVID-19 test results” among its Tier 1 personnel members.
But the statement issued Friday didn’t include the word “pause,” which in the language of the 2020-21 college basketball season means a halting of in-person team activities for a length of time.
The reason for that omission: Siena, at this point, has had enough players and coaches test positive for COVID-19 that it is able to play with just those individuals participating for the Saints.
While the new individuals who tested positive need to isolate and “appropriate Tier 1 contacts” need to quarantine, the pool of Saints who previously tested positive are able to continue with day-to-day activities. So Siena head coach Ali Jaques, whose team previously had three separate pauses and has only played four games, said Friday night that she expects the Saints to play as early as next Wednesday — with six players.
Those players, Jaques said, did practice Friday, and will work out Saturday before taking Sunday off. Then, those players will prepare Monday and Tuesday to play Wednesday in a game the MAAC is expected to officially add to the league’s schedule at some point this weekend.
“We want to play,” said Jaques, whose team is 2-2 and hasn’t played since Jan. 10.
Jaques confirmed that she led the team during its Friday practice and will coach next week’s game. That means that, at some previous point, Jaques tested positive for COVID-19.
Jaques said the Saints “would have” played this weekend, but it wasn’t feasible for the team to play games on back-to-back days with six players. MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor said it wasn’t possible for Siena to play one game this weekend against Quinnipiac, as the league is — for now — restricting weekend play to two-game series for “competitive” reasons.
Despite Siena’s positive COVID-19 test results returned on Friday, Ensor said that Siena is allowed to continue playing games under MAAC guidelines agreed upon late in 2020, which require a team to play if it has enough able players.
“We drafted a policy some time ago . . . that if you had eight scholarship players available and a coach available, if you have all that, then you have to play the game,” Ensor said. “If you’re under eight, you can play at your option — but you can’t play with less than six scholarship players.”
During a teleconference Wednesday with reporters, Jaques confirmed her program had seven total players and two coaches who have tested positive during the academic year. Only six of those players, though, are currently able to play — and Jaques expects them to have a game next Wednesday, and to offer their best attempt at winning with that reduced roster.
“You can only control what you can control — and I’m sick of saying that and hearing that, but it’s true,” Jaques said.
She added: “I have a great group of kids, and they just want to play.”
Siena athletic director John D’Argenio did not respond to a request for comment.