Albany County

Siena men’s basketball to take on MAAC-leading Iona

Siena men’s basketball player Jared Billups during practice on campus at Siena College in Loudonville on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

Siena men’s basketball player Jared Billups during practice on campus at Siena College in Loudonville on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

LOUDONVILLE — Coming out of last Friday’s loss at Manhattan, Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello pointed to the Saints not taking care of “the things that we knew about ourselves and had corrected,” as the club’s downfall.

That’s to say what largely undid the Saints was the Saints. 

Their start was underwhelming. 

Neither the effort on the glass nor the perimeter defense was up to the level it needed to be for them.

Too often, their defense in transition was too relaxed.

“The things we want to hang our hat on, we need to be able to do them for 40 minutes,” Maciariello said Monday in an interview with The Daily Gazette.

So putting together a full-game effort has been a talking point, an area of focus, in recent days for Siena — and that comes at an interesting point in the team’s schedule.

Siena (3-2 MAAC, 6-7 overall) plays at 7 p.m. Tuesday at MAAC-leading Iona (8-0, 16-3), the Rick Pitino-coached Gaels, who are undefeated in league play and have already seen numerous conference opponents wilt against them in late-game situations. 

Its ability to execute and ample talent are the top reasons Iona is already better than two games clear of the entire MAAC field with more than half the conference season to go. 

The Gaels, though, despite an average winning margin of 11.4 points per MAAC game, haven’t exactly overwhelmed their conference foes. In six of Iona’s eight MAAC wins, the Gaels’ opponent led during the second half.

In some of those wins, Iona’s opponent melted down in stunning fashion. Marist had a nine-point lead with less than six minutes to go and a six-point lead with less than four minutes to play in another game, and lost both to Iona. Meanwhile, Fairfield had an 11-point lead with less than eight minutes to go in a game it somehow lost.

But Iona simply finds ways to win, and nobody needs to remind Siena about that. It was only last March that Manny Camper, Jalen Pickett and Co. appeared on the verge of ending Iona’s winning streak against the Saints in the MAAC tournament . . . and, then, Iona hit the top-seeded Saints with a 16-0 run, erasing a nine-point lead Siena had held with less than nine minutes to go in what became the program’s 11th consecutive MAAC postseason loss to the Gaels.

Nothing Siena, with its nearly fully revamped cast from last season, can do Tuesday in New Rochelle can do anything about that painful loss last season for the Saints. After seeing the team’s four-game winning streak end Friday at Manhattan, though, Maciariello wants his group to leave Tuesday’s game continuing the upward trajectory it’s been on since starting the season with four consecutive losses. 

“We have a great opportunity to go in there and get better,” Maciariello said.


Maciariello said what’s stuck out to him regarding Iona this season has been the Gaels’ “well-defined roles” for their players.

“Tyson Jolly is going to score. Berrick JeanLouis is going to lock guys up defensively, be a glue guy, and get offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities. Dylan van Eyck is going to be a facilitating 4-man, just like Quinn Slazinski when he’s in,” said Maciariello, rifling through several examples.

Jolly is Iona’s leading scorer on the season at 15 points per game, while Nelly Junior Joseph (13.6) and Elijah Joiner (11.1) also average double-digit scoring.

Joiner was named Monday the MAAC Player of the Week after averaging 18 points, five rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in two Iona wins last week.


After the way Friday’s game played out, Maciariello didn’t hesitate Monday regarding what’s most important for his club at Iona.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re getting five guys to the glass,” Maciariello said.

In MAAC play, Siena has secured a higher percentage of possible defensive rebounds than any club. Against Manhattan, though, Siena struggled to rebound; Manhattan grabbed 37.9% of rebounds on the Saints’ defensive glass

On the season, Siena’s league opponents have secured a conference-low 23.4% of rebounds on the Saints’ defensive glass.

As other keys for the Saints against Iona, Maciariello mentioned the need to keep the Gaels off the foul line and from allowing Junior Joseph to establish himself in the paint.

In 19 games, Iona has attempted 79 more free throws than its opponents. The Gaels have made 69.7% of their foul shots.

A 6-foot-9 forward who was MAAC Rookie of the Year last season, Junior Joseph has made 52.9% of his field-goal attempts this season.

Categories: College Sports, Sports


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