LOUDONVILLE — With 10 extra pounds of muscle on his 6-foot-4 frame following an offseason of hard work, Aidan Carpenter looks a bit different heading into his sophomore season with the Siena men’s basketball program.
He feels different, too.
“Throughout my whole basketball career, I’ve struggled with confidence,” Carpenter said Monday at the Saints’ media-day event. “I’ve been working on being more confident on the court, knowing to get to my spots to score and stuff like that. I feel like, this year, I’m way more confident.”
That’s positive news for a Siena program likely to rely on Carpenter in a larger role this season after he averaged 5.7 points and 1.1 assists, while shooting 42.2% from the field, during a freshman campaign limited both by injuries and the talent of players ahead of him on the depth chart. The Saints, though, experienced well-chronicled roster turnover this offseason, and Carpenter — now weighing 195 pounds after checking in at 185 last season — enters the 2021-22 season as one of three returning scholarship players for head coach Carmen Maciariello’s program, which won a second consecutive MAAC regular-season crown last season.
Carpenter looks ready to make the most of the extra opportunities he should see this season, which starts with a Nov. 9 game at No. 23 St. Bonaventure, following the departures of starting guards Jordan King and Jalen Pickett who transferred to East Tennessee State and Penn State, respectively.
“He’s been working, and you see that in his body now,” Maciariello said of Carpenter, “and I think you’ll see it on the court, as well.”
“He has a lot of potential and he’s going to do great this year,” said graduate student Nick Hopkins, who is one of Siena’s returning players. “He’s been in the gym a lot. That’s the main thing with him. He’s a gym rat.”
And a more confident one, too.
Carpenter mentioned Monday learning from now-former Siena players such as Manny Camper and Pickett — the MAAC’s last two player-of-the-year winners — and that he still stays in touch with both. In the past, Carpenter said his struggles with confidence stemmed from “being in my head” and that he “just [thought] too much.”
Ahead of this season?
“I put my trust in Carm and he’s putting his trust in me,” Carpenter said, “so that definitely helps.”
Beyond the effort Carpenter demonstrated in the weight room, Maciariello said the guard continued to improve his game. Working on his ball-handling skills was a priority in the offseason, but Maciariello said Carpenter has also shown an improved basketball IQ this preseason.
“He’s done really well, even [with] just understanding some reads within the offense — and his shot looks good,” Maciariello said. “He’s a worker.”
Hopkins, one of the Saints’ four co-captains, said Carpenter seems more confident than he did a season ago.
“He gets it,” Hopkins said. “He knows he doesn’t have to put any pressure on himself because he knows he can do it.”
PRESEASON AWARDS SHOW
The MAAC’s preseason awards show for men’s and women’s basketball starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The league’s preseason coaches poll, All-MAAC teams and players of the year will be announced.
The show will be available on ESPN3.
Emmanuel Berbari is Siena’s new radio play-by-play announcer on WGDJ 1300 AM/98.7 FM, the school’s athletic department announced Monday. A 2021 Fordham graduate, Berbari will also serve as the host of the “Siena Basketball Coaches’ Show,” in addition to other announcing responsibilities with Siena.
Berbari replaces A.J. Kanell, who is now an announcer with Pac-12 Networks. On radio broadcasts, Siena alumni Andy Grazulis and Conner Fenlon will split the role of color analyst alongside Berbari.
Berbari served as the lead play-by-play announcer for Fordham men’s basketball, football and baseball over the last three years. In addition to other roles, he also did play-by-play announcing for the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League and various St. John’s sports.