Albany County

Siena, Saint Rose set for men’s basketball exhibition game

Colby Rogers, left, defends Nick Hopkins during the first day of Siena men's basketball practice on Oct. 4, 2021.
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Colby Rogers, left, defends Nick Hopkins during the first day of Siena men's basketball practice on Oct. 4, 2021.

With so many new players and still more than two weeks until its season-opening game at St. Bonaventure, Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello plans to use Monday’s exhibition matchup against Saint Rose in downtown Albany to collect as much data as possible on his group.

“I doubt I use the same starters [from the first half] to start the second half, and then I doubt I use the same starters in the [Oct. 31] closed scrimmage against New Hampshire,” Maciariello said ahead of Monday’s 7 p.m. matchup between Division I Siena and Division II Saint Rose. “I just want to get as many different looks [as possible], as many different sample sizes of different lineups to evaluate.”

At his program’s media-day event last week, Maciariello reiterated that “nothing’s been decided in terms of [the] starting lineup” for Siena, which only returns senior center Jackson Stormo from the final starting lineup the Saints used during the 2020-21 season. Graduate student Anthony Gaines — a transfer from Northwestern — and Stormo are safe bets to play heavy minutes this season for Siena, but the construction of the overall rotation remains a question. Lineups used against Saint Rose, though, should offer clues as to how Siena’s rotation is shaping up. Maciariello said the Saints’ coaching staff reevaluates its depth chart every week or so, and Siena’s third-year head coach acknowledged that Gaines and Stormo are the focal points of the team’s offense.

“They’re going to be the two guys that we have to make sure they’re touching the ball multiple times within each possession,” Maciariello said.

Gaines said the Saints are comfortable with not having a starting five announced. If anything, Gaines said he likes how a lack of determined roles has helped shape the attitude of this season’s Saints.

“Every day, you have to compete and earn your spot,” Gaines said.

Of course, Siena has players outside of Gaines and Stormo that seem certain to play significant minutes, even if starting roles remain undefined. It would be surprising if each of the team’s non-freshmen perimeter players — Aidan Carpenter, Nick Hopkins, Jayce Johnson, Jordan Kellier and Colby Rogers — didn’t play double-digit minutes to start the season. The Saints want to play lineups with four perimeter players as often as possible, with the ability of Gaines, Johnson and Kellier to man the 4 position likely to make that possible. 

In its exhibition game, Maciariello said he wants the Saints to show that their offseason’s focus on playing faster was more than talk. The goal is for the bulk of Siena’s shots to come “within the first 10 to 12 seconds of the shot clock,” and Maciariello wants to eschew calling too many set plays.

“I want these guys to be able to play aggressive, confident and loose — and really just enjoy sharing the basketball, and getting up and down [the court],” Maciariello said.

JUST STARTING UP

While Siena began its formal preseason with a practice on Oct. 4, head coach Mike Perno’s Saint Rose squad started its preseason on Oct. 15. That means the Golden Knights have had less time than the Saints to get ready for their exhibition matchup, but Perno said he’s confident his team will be ready to compete. 

“The one thing we’ve harped on with our guys is we always want to be better today than yesterday, and that will be our approach for Monday,” said Perno, whose team returns 99.3% of its scoring from its seven-game 2020-21 campaign.

Shane O’Dell, a Schalmont High School graduate, was Saint Rose’s leading scorer last season. The Golden Knights had six players average at least 9.1 points per game last season, and Perno said he wants the team’s ball movement to carry it against a Saints team that will have athleticism and size advantages.

“Being able to play a different-level opponent is enough motivation in itself,” Perno said. “But, for us, Monday needs to be more about us and less about Siena.”

Saint Rose’s first game of the 2021-22 season is a Nov. 12 non-conference game against D’Youville.

DIVISION I VS. DIVISION II

Maciariello said he expects Siena’s players to approach their matchup against Division II Saint Rose with the same focus they’d give a MAAC game.

“Our intensity should be 110% every time,” Maciariello said.

Rogers echoed that.

“We want to be locked in like it’s a March Madness game,” Rogers said.

The last time Siena played against a Division II opponent, that foe won the game. In Jimmy Patsos’ final season as Siena’s head coach, the Saints lost an exhibition game 73-71 against Le Moyne.

That 2017-18 season saw the Saints finish 8-24. Later, Siena needed to vacate those eight wins because of NCAA infractions that were committed.

AVAILABLE SAINTS

Siena has a dozen scholarship players on its roster, but won’t have its full roster available against Saint Rose.

Maciariello said freshman Taihland Owens won’t play as he continues to work back from injury, while the coach was unsure if freshman Javian McCollum and Johnson will be available.

Johnson said last week that he was optimistic he’d be ready to play against Saint Rose. If he’s unable to play, though, Johnson said he won’t view that as a setback.

“If I can’t play [against Saint Rose], I’ll still be ready for the ninth,” said Johnson, referring to Siena’s Nov. 9 game at St. Bonaventure.

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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