Albany County

Siena women’s basketball making progress this preseason

Siena’s Margo Peterson with the ball during a game at Times Union Center in Albany on Tuesday, November 5, 2019.

Siena’s Margo Peterson with the ball during a game at Times Union Center in Albany on Tuesday, November 5, 2019.

LOUDONVILLE — His players are still thinking more than reacting on the court, but Siena women’s basketball head coach Jim Jabir knows that’s to be expected as the Saints become accustomed to the fast-paced, free-flowing offense he wants to utilize this season.

“There’s not as much structure as in the past, and I think that’s been difficult for the kids to adjust to because they have to make so many decisions on the fly,” Jabir said Wednesday. “But I saw a big improvement from our intrasquad scrimmage to the other day.”

That “other day” was earlier this week, when the Saints competed in a closed scrimmage against Vermont. In that contest, the Saints looked to push the tempo with their “Phoenix” fast-break attack and used a read-and-react system when they needed to operate in a half-court setting. 

“He wants us to shoot the ball really fast,” Siena senior Margo Peterson said of Jabir, who has said multiple times he wants the Saints to play faster than any team in the country during a 2021-22 season that starts for them with a Nov. 9 game at Binghamton.

Peterson — one of the returning players who played last season for coach Ali Jaques before Jabir’s hire — said the Saints “don’t have that full chemistry” yet in terms of knowing their new offense. Jabir, though, knows that will take time to develop. Jabir’s offensive system is less based on structured movements than it is players knowing their teammates and their tendencies, so Siena needs time to jell.

“We’re asking them to do something that’s 180 degrees different [from the past], but they’re open to it,” Jabir said. “Anything that’s new and different can be a struggle, but they’re figuring it out.”

“We’re at a good spot right now,” Peterson said. “We work hard; Coach doesn’t have to coach our effort.”

While its playing chemistry needs work, the overall chemistry is strong. Siena junior Cheyenne Talbot said there were plenty of examples of that camaraderie during the matchup with Vermont.

“During the scrimmage, we were all working together and working hard. We made some mistakes, but, when it came to the mistakes, we overcame them and made sure we got past them together,” Talbot said. “If we saw one person’s head down, we made sure we went over and were like, ‘Let’s go, let’s keep going.’”

Before its season-opening game, Siena plays an exhibition matchup at its home UHY Center on Nov. 6 against Division II Dominican. Jabir said he expects the Saints’ offense to be in a better spot at that point.

“I’m really pleased with the kids, in terms of their effort and focus,” Jabir said. “They’re really trying hard and working hard.”

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