LOUDONVILLE — As the Siena men’s basketball program reaches its final game before starting MAAC play, the team’s “never-ending saga” likely has some more chapters in it to go.
That’s how Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello referred Monday to the injuries that have limited the Saints throughout the offseason, preseason and start of non-conference play. The Saints have only played six games this season, but its roster’s 13 scholarship players have already combined to miss 18 games due to injury — and that doesn’t count the three games Andrew Platek, who started in Sunday’s loss to Bucknell, missed as his playing eligibility status was figured out.
Ahead of playing Army of the Patriot League at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Christl Arena in West Point, Maciariello acknowledged the team’s injury issues have helped keep the Saints from forming a consistent rotation.
He doesn’t think it should’ve kept them from winning more games.
“We’ve got to find ways to win games, regardless,” said Maciariello, whose team is 1-5 after the Saints won 68.1% of their games during his first two seasons leading them. “There’s no woe is me, no excuses. We had enough to beat Harvard.”
Siena could have more Saints available when it plays Army. After Jordan Kellier — who started the team’s preseason exhibition against Division II Saint Rose, then missed the team’s first five games — made his regular-season debut at Buckell, Aidan Carpenter appears to be trending toward playing at Army. Carpenter started the team’s first three games, then missed the following two with injury and the next due to illness. On Monday night, though, Maciariello described Carpenter as a “game-time decision” after the sophomore guard who started Siena’s first three games was able to participate in team activities earlier in the day.
Carpenter really only played two full games for the Saints; he suffered an injury minutes into the team’s third game, and only played two minutes in that contest. While Carpenter only made 33.3% of his shots so far this season, adding the team’s opening-night lead guard back into the mix would be a welcome development for a club whose offense ranks so far in the bottom 50 in the country in adjusted efficiency, according to kenpom.com.
“Offensively, we need to be able to find a groove,” Maciariello said. “Guys have to understand what is a good shot and a bad shot for them, and how to be stars in their role.”
Later, he added: “We’ve got to make sure the right guys are taking the right shots.”
Throughout the offseason and preseason, Maciariello’s stated goal was for the Saints to play faster than it had during his first two seasons. Instead, so far, the Saints have played lower-possession games this season than in the 2019-20 or 2020-21 seasons.
Maciariello said a combination of factors have led to that. The team’s injuries have derailed a consistent rotation from developing, which means lineups haven’t had enough time to jell; the club’s defense remains a work in progress, and it hasn’t been able to create the live-ball turnovers that lead to fast-break opportunities; and, given the team’s offseason roster turnover, an added emphasis has needed to be placed on valuing half-court execution during the non-conference season.
“I do think we did get good shots the other day against Bucknell,” Maciariello said. “They just didn’t fall.”
In that nine-point overtime loss, following a 3-pointer from Colby Rogers that put Siena ahead 48-46 with five minutes to go in regulation, the Saints didn’t make another shot from the field until Jackson Stormo made a basket in the final seconds of overtime. In between, Siena missed 14 consecutive shots — and many of them were off solid looks.
Army is 4-2 on the season, with a win against Division III New Paltz and a loss to Duke — currently ranked No. 1 in the country — on its resume. Head coach Jimmy Allen’s team features nine players averaging at least 10 minutes per game, but the club gets most of its scoring from the trio of Josh Caldwell, Charlie Peterson and Jalen Rucker. Those three players have scored 59% of the team’s points.
Army moves the ball well and forces opponents to guard the 3-point line. Through the weekend’s action, Army ranked within the top 75 in both the percentage of field-goal attempts it took from 3-point territory and the number of baskets that saw it record an assist, according to kenpom.com.
Army’s desire to shoot from the 3-point line is a problem Siena needs to handle; so far this season, Siena’s opponents have made a stellar 43.4% of its attempts from downtown.
“We know we’ve got to guard the 3 and we have to slow them in transition,” Maciariello said.
In its last game, Army defeated Marist, a MAAC rival of Siena. In that 65-61 win, Rucker scored 24 points.
Siena’s game against Army is the Saints’ final before starting MAAC play. Siena hosts Manhattan this Friday and travels to Saint Peter’s Sunday before finishing off its non-conference slate with games against Holy Cross and American.