LOUDONVILLE — Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello confirmed Tuesday that the Saints’ home opener for the 2021-22 season will be played against Delaware.
That Nov. 13 game — the Saturday after the Saints open on Nov. 9 at St. Bonaventure — will mark Siena’s return to regular-season action at Times Union Center in downtown Albany. Due to restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Siena played all of its home games last season on campus.
“November will be busy,” Maciariello said Tuesday of the Saints’ expected schedule, which still hasn’t been finalized.
Noting that only Robert Mahala and Kyle Young had previously played in a Siena game at Times Union Center, Maciariello said it’s possible the Saints will schedule a home exhibition game during the preseason so that the team’s roster can gain some experience playing in the downtown Albany venue.
Currently, Siena is in the process of its third week of summer workouts. The Saints will be together for eight weeks this summer.
“The guys are working hard and enjoying being around each other,” Maciariello said of a team that includes nine new scholarship players. “It’s a really energetic group. It’s been great.”
Maciariello said he’s been impressed with the team’s freshmen during the Saints’ early summer workouts.
“The good thing with the freshmen is that you need to tell them not to be in the gym all night long,” Maciariello said.
In particular, he praised how freshmen Jared Billups and Javian McCollum had started their college careers.
“Both of those guys have come to work and have picked things up quickly,” Maciariello said.
With the full team, Maciariello said a focus during the Saints’ first summer weeks together has been on learning terminology and the basics of how players are expected to execute the finer points of the team’s offense. He’s liked how the team’s players have helped remind one another what they’ve learned.
“Player-led teams are the teams that get it done,” Maciariello said.
Siena finished 12-5 last season and won a share of the MAAC regular-season championship before falling in the MAAC quarterfinals. From its 2020-21 season, though, Siena only returns 38.1% of its scoring and 35.5% of its rebounding, while four of the team’s starters from the Saints’ season-ending loss are no longer with the program.
Maciariello said he is confident in the Saints’ retooled roster, and said the 2021-22 Saints are eager to show Siena remains one of the MAAC’s top programs.
“This group,” Maciariello said, “wants to build its own legacy.”
Maciariello said he expects the final piece of his coaching staff to become finalized within the next week.
That to-be-named assistant coach will replace Antoni Wyche — a Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School graduate — on the Siena coaching staff. Wyche recently left the Saints to become an assistant coach with Notre Dame, his alma mater.
Maciariello recently hired Jonathan Pickett, a graduate of both Mechanicville High School and UAlbany, as the coaching staff’s special assistant.
“I thought it was a home run because he was familiar with Siena basketball already,” Maciariello said.
Pickett spent the last five college basketball seasons working with the UAlbany basketball programs. Pickett worked with the Great Danes’ women’s team for two seasons, then spent the last three seasons with the Great Danes’ men’s team.