LOUDONVILLE — A smiling Andrew Platek acknowledged after Friday’s Siena men’s basketball practice that there were several instances during his first two games playing for the Saints when the team’s called play was one unfamiliar to his ears.
“The gears start turning,” said Platek, the newest Saint. “You can tell when I’m out there and I don’t know something because it’ll show in my face.”
A former Guilderland High School star who played the last four seasons at North Carolina, Platek has played in two games for Siena since gaining the necessary NCAA waivers he needed to compete for the Saints this season. He was able to start practicing with the squad in late October, but is still working toward getting fully up to speed with his new team.
“That’s a big part of me playing more, is me knowing everything,” Platek said.
Siena likely played its best two games of the season with Platek in its rotation. The Saints lost at Georgetown in Platek’s debut, then topped Harvard earlier this week. In those two games, Platek averaged 10.5 points, three rebounds and three assists in 20.5 minutes per game off the bench.
Platek said he’s spent time each day talking with Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello about the team’s playbook and has spent extra time reviewing footage of the team’s offensive possessions. While learning a new offense is “not rocket science,” Platek said he’s a “visual learner and an active learner” that needs time on the practice court to gain 100% comfort within the team’s sets.
Maciariello said he’s confident that Platek can handle more minutes. The third-year head coach, though, doesn’t want Platek’s role to grow in a way that skips steps. While the 6-foot-4 perimeter player joined Siena after spending four seasons with one of the sport’s top programs, Maciariello said it’s important Platek earns his minutes based on how he performs at Siena rather than the look of his resume.
“And he’s doing a great job earning it,” Maciariello said.
The coach’s sense is that Platek’s “teammates trust him,” and Maciariello said that was “a big step” toward Platek gaining more time on the court. It seems inevitable that Platek will eventually join Siena’s starting lineup and play 30-plus minutes each game, and it wouldn’t be a shock if that change is made as soon as Sunday when the Saints visit Bucknell for a non-conference game.
“I’m excited for what the future holds for this team with him on it,” Maciariello said.
Jordan Kellier, who hasn’t played yet this season due to injury, practiced Friday and appears on track to play Sunday at Bucknell.
A transfer from Utah, Kellier played — and started — in Siena’s exhibition win against Division II Saint Rose.
Freshman Taihland Owens, who hasn’t played yet this season, did practice Friday. Maciariello, though, said Owens won’t debut at Bucknell.
Meanwhile, the status of Aidan Carpenter for Sunday’s game is somewhat a mystery. Carpenter missed Siena’s last two games as he dealt with two separate injuries; the sophomore guard, though, was able to practice earlier this week and had moved past his previous injuries, but Carpenter is currently battling an illness that kept him out of Friday’s workout.
Jared Billups and Jackson Stormo both were not on the court during the portion of Friday’s practice open to media members, but Maciariello said each player participated in the majority of the practice before heading to the training room. Maciariello said his expectation is that both Billups and Stormo will play at Bucknell.