LOUDONVILLE — One of the final activities during summer workouts for the Siena men’s basketball program was to take an exam that tested the Saints — a collection of players mostly new to the team, which also has a coaching staff that head coach Carmen Maciariello reworked this offseason — on terminology, concepts and sets they learned.
Maciariello was pleased with the results, describing them as a fitting end to a span of eight weeks that saw the Saints mesh together and establish a strong base ahead of their fall workouts that start after a short break.
“We really stressed this summer that they should be listening to learn and understand, not just listening to respond,” Maciariello said in a recent interview with The Daily Gazette.
Siena finished its summer workouts Friday. Individual meetings and a full-team meeting mostly made up the final two days of activities, while testing in the team’s weight room showed personal gains for each player. Maciariello said it was a goal to make the summer “fun” for his players, to focus on improving without worrying about outside expectations for a program with nine new scholarship players.
“I wanted them to . . . enjoy these eight weeks,” said Maciariello, who has led the Saints to at least a share of the MAAC regular-season championship in each of his first two seasons as head coach. “It was great, productive — and they know what my non-negotiables are.”
Maciariello said he wanted each of his players this summer to try new things. Like a comedy act trying out new material at small shows before telling those jokes while on a full tour, Maciariello said, the Siena players were encouraged to expand their games and push their limits inside the school’s practice gym.
“This summer was all about practicing, and realizing it’s OK to make mistakes — and, then, let’s understand why you did that, let’s correct it and understand why we do things a certain way,” Maciariello said.
A notable positive, Maciariello said, was the continued improvement — and comfort level — that Jackson Stormo demonstrated this summer shooting from the perimeter after the 6-foot-9 center took two total 3-pointers last season.
“He’s really worked hard on his 3,” Maciariello said.
Perimeter players Jayce Johnson and Taihland Owens, Maciariello said, continue to recover from surgeries to address leg injuries that kept them out of on-court activities. Johnson, seemingly, is further ahead in his recovery; Maciariello said Johnson’s outlook is “great,” in terms of returning as soon as next month, while the coach described Owens’ recovery as “a process, but he feels progress.”
Colby Rogers, a transfer from Cal Poly, also missed significant on-court time this summer because of an issue with his knee, but Maciariello said the 6-foot-5 guard should be able to participate fully this fall. Maciariello said he liked the work ethic Rogers displayed this summer.
“He’s a perfectionist,” Maciariello said.
Rogers said he was a “sponge, just trying to take it all in” during his first summer with the Saints. He said he liked the way the Saints focused this summer on building positive habits — “Be five minutes early,” was one — and building their camaraderie.
“Chemistry goes a long way,” Rogers said.
“And that cohesiveness will really help us down the road,” Maciariello said.