The Siena men’s basketball team has gotten used to playing games without much preparation time lately.
This time, they’ll have to get on a bus to do it.
After going 3-1 on a homestand that spanned just eight days, the Saints will finish up a five-game, 10-day stretch at Fairfield at 2 p.m. on Sunday while trying to shrug off a lackluster 74-60 loss to Rider at MVP Arena on Friday.
Based on that result, the Saints, tied for third in the MAAC with Monmouth at 6-4, are eager to get right back into it quickly after having their momentum halted by the Broncs.
“It’s good to have a quick turnaround, because you have to push the [Rider] game back,” leading scorer Colby Rogers said after during the post-game interviews. “You can’t dwell on this game, because now we have 48 hours to prepare for Fairfield. In hindsight, it’ll be good, but no one likes to lose.
“Breather? I don’t think we need a breather. This is what conference play’s all about. I like playing games, I like playing back-to-back or a day between. So, breather … nah, no breather.”
“We’ll have a nice film session of offensive execution and where the ball needs to go,” head coach Carmen Maciariello said after the game. “But this was about heart. They came in and had the bigger heart tonight.”
The Saints (9-9 overall) beat Fairfield 69-62 at MVP Arena on Jan. 9 while coming off the longest layoff in the country.
The Stags (4-6, 10-11) are among six of 11 MAAC teams within two games of .500 in-conference, so Siena has an opportunity to maintain some separation from the lower half of that group, with a home game against 11-0 Iona looming on Friday.
The players have embraced the hectic schedule to a degree, but it hasn’t allowed for the typical depth of pre-scout and game planning. Maciariello said the coaching staff has scaled back on that to prevent mental overload.
“We played Sunday, so we were off Monday. Then we had to play Tuesday. Right? I don’t even know. Yeah, it was Tuesday,” he said. “Guys did a good job. I thought the film and preparation were good. They did a good job understanding the game plans. But we’ve got to continue to carry things over.”
Fairfield lost seven straight from Dec. 19 to Jan. 20, but has been playing better in its last three, all on the road, beating Rider and Marist before a 59-56 loss to Monmouth on Friday when Marcus McClary banked in a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left.
Offensively, Siena will try to get more production from the post, after center Jackson Stormo, averaging 8.7 shots per game as the Saints’ second-leading scorer, had just four against Rider, scoring seven points in 36 minutes.
“I thought they did a good job pushing down on his top shoulder,” Maciariello said. “I didn’t think we had great angles to post-feed. We did a pretty good job taking care of the ball until a couple miscues late.
“Teams understand when they take away Jackson, sometimes it’s tough. We end up playing more on the perimeter. These guys understand, as guards, when they get in the paint, whether it’s kicking out for open shooters or being able to throw it to the block, we have success.”
The Saints could also get a boost on offense if guard Nick Hopkins returns to the lineup after missing the Rider game. He had 19 points in the win over Fairfield on Jan. 9.