It didn’t go the way he wanted.
Aidan Carpenter will freely acknowledge that. His freshman season with the Siena men’s basketball program didn’t play out the way he’d envisioned, and he plans to allow that view to help motivate himself throughout this offseason.
“But that already happened and I’m onto the next,” Carpenter said in a recent interview with The Daily Gazette. “I want next season to be the best season I can have.”
Siena finished off its formal spring workouts last week, and Carpenter finished those workouts in a much different place than where he started them with the Saints. With the roster’s significant turnover this offseason, rising junior center Kyle Young is the only scholarship Saint who has been a member of the program longer than Carpenter, who was a mid-year enrollee for the Saints during the 2019-20 season as a practice player. Both members of the Saints’ all-conference backcourt — Jordan King and Jalen Pickett — have transferred out of the program, which leaves Carpenter with nobody set within the program’s depth chart ahead of himself.
“But that doesn’t really affect what I’m working on,” Carpenter said. “If anything, it does make it a better opportunity for me to come in and showcase what I can do. I’m just trying to have a way better year than I did last year.”
In some senses, the 2020-21 season was a lost one for Carpenter. At times, he dazzled utilizing his athleticism and length, but he produced modest per-game averages of 5.7 points and 1.1 assists, while shooting 42.2% from the field. The 6-foot-5 guard twice missed time during the season, once at the start and then toward the end, because of injuries, and that combined with the Saints’ inability to practice up to normal standards because of precautions and restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic prevented Carpenter from making certain strides with his game.
This offseason, Carpenter said he’s working to change that and make up for lost time.
“I’ve been working a lot on my passing, being able to read the ball screen,” Carpenter said. “Making different passes and being able to make different finishes.”
Of course, there isn’t a rush to figure out a starting lineup and rotation spots for a team that projects to include nine new scholarship players for next season and lost its three leading scorers from last season. Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello, though, said the team’s coaching staff spent ample time these last several weeks working with Carpenter and graduate student Nick Hopkins on surveying the floor and footwork-related skills meant to help further develop both guards as playmakers.
“We’ve worked on a lot of those details these past [several] weeks with all the guys, but especially with [Carpenter] and Nick Hopkins being that they’re the only two guards here right now working,” Maciariello said.
Along with that, Carpenter said he knows he needs to be more vocal on the court.
“That’s something I have to work on,” Carpenter said. “I don’t use my voice like that.”
“And we need him to be able to direct guys,” Maciariello said.
Siena has incoming freshmen and transfer guards coming into the program, but the Saints likely need Carpenter to make a jump if they’re going to remain near the top of the MAAC standings. Siena won at least a share of the MAAC regular-season championship in Maciariello’s first two seasons as head coach, and the easiest way for the Saints to produce similar success is for Carpenter to develop from promising prospect into an all-conference caliber player.
That’s not an easy jump, but it’s the one Carpenter is working to make happen this offseason. He said he doesn’t plan to take any time off with the end of the Saints’ formal spring workouts, and will keep working on his game during his last weeks on campus before he heads home to Connecticut for a couple weeks to recharge before heading back to Siena for summer classes and workouts.
“I’m going to be working hard every day,” Carpenter said.