LOUDONVILLE — The Siena men’s basketball team doesn’t yet know its opponent for the MAAC quarterfinals.
That’s OK — that’s part of the deal with securing a bye and a top-three seed for the league tournament.
What’s certainly less than ideal is that the third-seeded Saints don’t know if they’ll have graduate student Anthony Gaines available to play for Thursday’s matchup against either No. 6 Marist or No. 11 Quinnipiac at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“I’m hoping we’ll get some news, one way or another, so we can start to prepare, but I’m hoping for the best,” Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello said of Gaines’ status before Monday’s practice, which Gaines missed for a medical appointment regarding his right knee. “I know our doctors and our training staff do a great job, and so we’ll wait to hear.”
In the final seconds of Saturday’s regular-season finale, Gaines fell to the ground and grabbed his right knee. There was no contact on the play between Gaines and his defender, and Gaines stayed down on the court at Koessler Athletic Center in Buffalo for some time before limping off on his own.
The 6-foot-5 perimeter player averaged 10.9 points and a team-best 7.1 rebounds per game during a 15-13 regular season for Siena that closed with losses at Niagara and Canisius. Along with graduate student Michael Baer, Gaines — a third-team All-MAAC player — is one of only two Saints to play in every regular-season game.
If Gaines cannot play, the Saints will only have nine available scholarship players — and that includes sophomore Aidan Carpenter, who is expected to play in Thursday’s quarterfinal after missing Siena’s final six games of the regular season.
Maciariello said he “would hope to know by” Tuesday what Gaines’ status is for this week’s MAAC tournament, and the third-year head coach said his team will be ready to compete Thursday.
“For us, that’s what these guys do a great job of, is just having that resolve and that trust in one another where if somebody is out — which I’m hoping he’s not — then we’re good to go, regardless.”
Siena senior Jackson Stormo echoed that mindset. The Saints want Gaines on the floor with them Thursday, but their energy ahead of the contest is being spent making sure they’re prepared to make it to Friday’s semifinals.
“It’s just not something that we can control,” Stormo said of Gaines’ availability. “So we’re just focusing on what we can do right now.”
While Gaines was named a third-team selection in the MAAC, junior Colby Rogers was named Monday a second-team All-MAAC selection and freshman Jared Billups earned a spot on the conference’s all-rookie team.
Rogers is Siena’s leading scorer on the season at 14.1 points per game and has made 42.% of his 3-point attempts, which ranks No. 15 in the country.
Billups averaged 5.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, and has made 16 starts for Siena.
The MAAC men’s basketball first-team consisted of Iona’s Tyson Jolly and Nelly Junior Joseph, Manhattan’s Jose Perez, Monmouth’s George Papas and Niagara’s Marcus Hammond.
From the Siena women’s basketball team, fifth-year senior Rayshel Brown was named a second-team all-conference selection and freshman Imani Harris earned a spot on the league’s all-rookie team.
Brown averaged a team-best 13.1 points and 5.7 rebounds, while Harris averaged 4.1 points, 2.3 assists and 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
Fifth-seeded Siena plays fourth-seeded Niagara in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
The All-MAAC women’s basketball first team included Fairfield’s Lou Lopez-Senechal, Manhattan’s Dee Dee Davis and Courtney Warley, Niagara’s Angel Parker and Quinnipiac’s Mackenzie DeWees.