LOUDONVILLE — After an offseason of change, there naturally are questions about what to expect from the Siena men’s basketball program this upcoming season.
Saints head coach Carmen Maciariello delivered his answer Monday, shortly before the team started its first preseason practice.
“I think,” Maciariello said, “we have everything we need to win a championship.”
The Saints’ offseason wasn’t a quiet one. Only senior center Jackson Stormo remains from the team’s final starting five of the season, and 10 new players joined a roster that only brings back 29.3% of its scoring from the 2020-21 campaign, which saw the Saints win a share of the MAAC regular-season championship before losing to Iona in the MAAC quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Siena’s six-person coaching staff includes three fresh faces, plus two returners — Greg Fahey and Matt Miner — in new roles for Maciariello’s program.
Included among Siena’s roster departures are first-team All-MAAC selections Manny Camper and Jalen Pickett, the former now pursuing professional opportunities and the latter playing for Penn State. So, too, are each of last season’s three assistant coaches.
But Maciariello has consistently expressed confidence in how the Saints rebuilt themselves this offseason with a mixture of freshmen and transfers, and has already compared his current group multiple times to the 2019-20 Siena team that won its final 10 games and carried itself with a confident aura that last season’s Saints never quite obtained.
“These guys are all committed to the process of getting better every single day,” Maciariello said.
Anthony Gaines and Stormo echoed that sentiment. Stormo is Siena’s leading returning scorer and rebounder after he averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 rebounds in 25.2 minutes per game last season, while Gaines — a Northwestern transfer — is one of several newcomers expected to play major minutes right away.
Monday’s practice lasted approximately 90 minutes, and “setting the tone for the season,” Gaines said, was the most important thing to accomplish.
“Guys just coming in, working hard, ready to compete every day, pushing each other, bringing the best out of themselves,” Gaines said. “That’s what winning programs do.”
The attitude around the team, Stormo said, is a positive one. Stormo said all of the program’s offseason departures aren’t weighing on the Saints.
“Everybody that’s here is here because they really want to be here. That’s the one thing that’s really clear,” Stormo said. “[Some] people are at other places, and we wish them the best, but I’m really focused on what we have right here, right now, in this locker room today — and we’ve got something really special.”
“We’re just ready to get after it,” Gaines said.
The Saints did that at Monday’s practice, their first official one of a 2021-22 season that starts with a Nov. 9 game at St. Bonaventure. The team was minus a few players, as freshmen Javian McCollum and Taihland Owens, and senior Jayce Johnson sat out the practice with injuries. Meanwhile, Andrew Platek — a former Guilderland High School star who played four seasons at North Carolina — remains enrolled at Siena, but hasn’t been added yet to the program’s roster.
The Saints on the court Monday demonstrated reasons for optimism. Aidan Carpenter, coming off a freshman season that saw him show flashes of his potential, looked the part of a player who took the offseason very seriously, as he added 10 pounds to his 6-foot-5 frame and now weighs in at 195. After taking only two 3-pointers last season, Stormo made several consecutive 3s in one drill. Overall, the Saints’ athleticism looked like it went up a level from last season.
Above anything else, Maciariello said the “character” of this season’s team is what he likes. It’s a team with more grit than flash, and one that Maciariello — a Siena alumnus — would’ve fit with as a player.
“They’re my type of guys,” said Maciariello, who signed a contract extension during the offseason after guiding the Saints to regular-season championships in each of his first two seasons leading the program.
Maciariello named four captains for the 2021-22 Saints, the program announced Monday.
Graduate students Gaines and Nick Hopkins, and seniors Robert Mahala and Stormo will serve as the Saints’ leadership team.
Mahala — a walk-on — also served as a captain last season, along with Camper, who won MAAC Player of the Year as a senior.
DAGOSTINO JOINS ROSTER
Siena announced Monday the addition of Aidan Dagostino, a Saratoga Springs native, to its program.
A 6-foot-1, 147-pound guard, Dagostino joined the Saints’ roster as a walk-on player.
Dagostino graduated from Saratoga Springs in 2020, then played a year at South Kent School in Connecticut.