Albany County

Siena men’s basketball leaning on starting five

Siena’s Nick Hopkins with the ball against Quinnipiac during a basketball game at MVP Arena in Albany on Sunday, January 30, 2022.

Siena’s Nick Hopkins with the ball against Quinnipiac during a basketball game at MVP Arena in Albany on Sunday, January 30, 2022.

For so much of the campaign, head coach Carmen Maciariello needed to frequently mix and match his Saints as he figured out what exactly he had for the 2021-22 season.

Part of that was due to the massive roster overhaul the program experienced after last season, the second of back-to-back seasons that saw the Saints win at least a share of the MAAC regular-season crown. Then, there have been the season-long injury issues that have hampered the Saints, who have only had two players — Michael Baer and Anthony Gaines — appear in every game this season.

In recent weeks, though, Siena has started to find some lineups it likes — and Maciariello has made sure to give them extended time on the court together as the MAAC tournament approaches.

“I’ve made a concerted effort not to sub as much early,” Maciariello said after Sunday’s win in Albany against Monmouth, a result that kept Siena in a second-place tie with Saint Peter’s with two games to go — Thursday at Niagara and Saturday at Canisius — in its regular season.

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That’s been to give the starting five of Jared Billups, Nick Hopkins, Gaines, Colby Rogers and Jackson Stormo time to develop the type of rhythm that only comes with possession after possession playing together. That veteran-laden group of one freshman, a junior, senior and two graduate students includes Siena’s top-five players this season in total points and rebounds.

That combination has started Siena’s last seven games, and — as long as foul trouble or matchups aren’t dictating otherwise — Maciariello has tried to let it play past the first media break, like it did in Sunday’s win when the starting five played nearly the first six minutes. The week before that at MVP Arena, Maciariello let the starting five play a bit longer than that, as the Saints started their win against Saint Peter’s with a 17-7 start. 

“Now,” Hopkins said,  “we’re just starting to flow [better] into everything. We’re trying to play a little bit faster and just get the ball movement right.” 

“I just think when they’re playing well, I want them to get into a groove,” said Maciariello, whose team is 12-6 in league play and controls its path to the MAAC’s No. 2 seed.

Letting a team’s starting lineup play big minutes together may sound obvious and simple, but starting lineups don’t necessarily always play big minutes as a group. Within the 11-team MAAC, according to’s database, Siena is one of only four teams to play any single lineup an average of more than 10 minutes per game over the last five games.

In all, Siena’s starting lineup played more than 14 minutes together against Monmouth, and the Saints kept at least four of their starters together on the court for nearly 25 minutes — and those lineups outscored Monmouth by eight in the 11-point win.

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Categories: College Sports, Siena College, Sports


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