LOUDONVILLE — As a high school player, Colby Rogers was on Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello’s radar.
Maciariello, though, was never able to see Rogers play in person during the 6-foot-4 guard’s recruiting years, and the Georgia native who finished up his high school career in New Jersey ended up heading to Cal Poly as a freshman for the 2019-20 season.
As it works out, that’s partially what led to Rogers eventually ending up at Siena, where he’s the leading scorer for Maciariello’s Saints this season.
The 2019-20 season was Maciariello’s first as head coach at Siena, and that campaign included a trip to Cal Poly that resulted in what was likely Siena’s worst loss of the campaign. Against a Siena team that ended up winning the MAAC regular-season title and appeared on its way to heading to the NCAA tournament before its pandemic-related cancellation, Rogers had a dozen points on 5 of 5 shooting. The performance from the then-freshman was one Maciariello instantly thought of when Rogers ended up in the NCAA transfer portal this past offseason.
“So, it helped that we went out there and stunk it up against Cal Poly my first year,” Maciariello said Wednesday. “I knew he could play because it’s easier to trust your own eyes, when you’re watching in person.”
Rogers and Siena (7-4 MAAC, 10-9 overall) play first-place Iona (11-1, 19-4) this Friday in a 9 p.m. MAAC game at MVP Arena in Albany. Rogers enters that game averaging a team-best 14.6 points per game, and the junior has made 44.3% of his field-goal attempts despite taking more than half his shots from 3-point territory.
“My teammates, they trust me. They have a lot of confidence in me,” Rogers said when asked why he’s had such individual success this season. “They’re always looking for me to shoot, telling me to shoot — and that’s always a plus.”
In making 5 of 14 shots, Rogers had one of his tougher shooting games of the season in Siena’s win Sunday at Fairfield, but he made one of the game’s big shots. With the Saints clinging to a one-point lead and an offensive possession going nowhere with a minute to go, Rogers drove toward the basket from the right wing, kept his dribble as he looped away from the basket, then ended up just off the left elbow where he let fly a shot late in the shot clock. The swished jumper gave Siena a three-point lead in what soon became a six-point win, and demonstrated the trust the Saints have in their top scorer.
“We want him to be able to take and get open jump shots,” Maciariello said. “We use him in set plays, we use him off screens. We use him as a way to feed the post, to open up things for Jackson [Stormo], and open up driving lanes for our guards and for Anthony [Gaines], so we use him in a little bit of everything.”
At Cal Poly, Rogers had a solid two seasons and averaged 10 points per game. His team, though, only won 11 of 54 games.
With Siena, Rogers’ scoring is up, as are his shooting percentages across the board. Besides Rogers’ 44.3% overall shooting, the guard has made 42.5% of his 3-point attempts and 87.1% of his foul shots.
“Just sticking to my routine, staying in the gym, and just improving my game,” Rogers said of his improved shooting numbers. “I can’t be satisfied with my numbers at Cal Poly. I wanted to get better numbers, and I wanted to come somewhere to win. So I’ve been able to do that and I just want to continue to keep doing that.”
On the season, Rogers is averaging 6.3 attempts per game from 3-point territory. He’s worked to develop the rest of his offensive game, but Siena’s willingness to allow the player to utilize his long-range shooting has helped Rogers enjoy a career-best season.
“That’s kind of always been my game; I shoot the ball well, I shoot 3s,” Rogers said. “That’s kind of what I do. I want to improve and become a three-level scorer, but I’m not going to run away from what got me here.”