Albany County

Siena men’s basketball set for home opener

Siena’s Nick Hopkins with the ball against Saint Rose’s Tray Alexander during the exhibition game at in Albany on Monday, October 25, 2021.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Siena’s Nick Hopkins with the ball against Saint Rose’s Tray Alexander during the exhibition game at in Albany on Monday, October 25, 2021.

LOUDONVILLE — It’s not meant as a sign of disrespect, but Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello sees his team’s next opponent as someone other than what’s listed on the schedule.

“As much as people want to talk about opponents, this is Siena vs. Siena,” Maciariello said Thursday, “and [it’s about] getting as good as we can get, and guys understanding their roles and what they need to do for us to be successful.”

What the schedule says, though, is that Siena will host CAA preseason favorite Delaware at 7 p.m. Saturday at Times Union Center in downtown Albany for the Saints’ first home game that counts with fans since the 2019-20 season. Siena did play, and win, an exhibition game at home against Saint Rose in October.

Heading into Saturday’s game, Maciariello’s mindset is largely unchanged from what it was before that exhibition game or the team’s season-opening game. With nine new scholarship players on the roster and a variety of injuries limiting the Saints as they prepared for this season, the Saints’ focus is squarely on making sure they execute, play their game and leave Saturday night’s game better than they started it.

“I think we’re on the right track for that,” Siena center Jackson Stormo said.

Siena led by as many 10 points in the first half of its season-opening game, which No. 23 St. Bonaventure won 75-47 after a dominant final 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Delaware wasn’t particularly competitive beyond the opening 10 minutes in a 93-71 loss to Davidson. Delaware trailed by 18 points at halftime of that game, and Davidson led by 20 or more points for nearly all of the second half.

St. Bonaventure was picked to finish first in the Atlantic 10 Conference preseason poll, while Davidson was picked sixth.

STAYING ON THE FLOOR

Maciariello called it “the question of the night.”

That question: What if Anthony Gaines hadn’t picked up that second foul when he did?

With Siena ahead 17-7, Gaines picked up his second foul with 12:30 left in Tuesday’s first half. He sat the rest of the half, which St. Bonaventure ended up four points, and Siena never led in the second half after that 14-point swing following Gaines’ second foul.

Gaines said he’s “just got to be smarter,” in terms of avoiding any unnecessary fouls. A transfer from Northwestern, Gaines was counted on for defense when he played in the Big Ten Conference, but Siena needs Gaines to fill up the box score. The 6-foot-5, 203-pound Gaines finished with six points in 25 minutes against St. Bonaventure.

“The physicality is a little different,” Gaines said of what he’s getting used to playing at Siena rather than Northwestern. “In the Big 10, with the physicality of the bigger guys, you could be more aggressive on the ball.”

While Gaines plans to be more careful in terms of picking up early fouls, he ended up not picking up another foul in the contest. He sat for 12-plus minutes in the first half to avoid further foul trouble, but was able to play the second half without picking up a third foul — and Maciariello took note of that, saying Thursday he’s “got to be able to play [Gaines] for a couple more minutes to keep him in a flow,” rather than sitting him for the full rest of a first half after picking up a second foul.

“I trust him,” Maciariello said.

HEALTH UPDATE

The portion of Siena’s practice open to media members Thursday only saw eight scholarship players on the floor.

Jared Billups, Jordan Kellier, Javian McCollum and Taihland Owens all missed Siena’s season-opening game with injuries. On Friday, Maciariello said that McCollum and Billups will be game-time decisions against Delaware, while Kellier and Owens will not play.

With only eight scholarship players available on Tuesday, walk-on Robert Mahala played four minutes. Siena’s able-to-play scholarship players ranged from six to 35 minutes, with six players recording at least 25 minutes.

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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