Following an injury-plagued season, the Siena men’s basketball program is on its way to getting healthier as its offseason rolls along.
Jared Billups had wrist surgery earlier this week to correct an injury that Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello said Wednesday hampered the 6-foot-4 wing player “pretty much the whole year.” Billups produced a strong freshman campaign, anyway, and emerged as one of the most-reliable Saints during a MAAC All-Rookie season. Maciariello said Billups’ full recovery should take “10 to 12 weeks,” which means the freshman should be back in the playing mix for the program’s exhibition trip to Italy that starts in mid-August.
Ahead of Thursday’s “KeyBank Siena Basketball Celebration,” an end-of-season banquet for the school’s men’s and women’s teams that will take place at Crowne Plaza Albany–The Desmond Hotel in Colonie, Maciariello said that two Saints had knee surgeries Wednesday. Freshman Taihland Owens, who didn’t play during the 2021-22 season due to a knee injury, had an arthroscopic procedure on his other knee, while graduate student Anthony Gaines had surgery to repair the torn ACL he suffered on the final possession of Siena’s regular season.
Maciariello said there hasn’t been a decision finalized regarding whether Gaines will play for the Saints during the 2022-23 season. What is set, Maciariello said, is that Gaines — an All-MAAC player this past season — will remain on scholarship at Siena for the 2022-23 academic year and will be a member of the basketball program as he pursues his graduate degree.
Billups is still able to do conditioning work, while Gaines and Owens are able to continue with strength training. Siena’s six other returning scholarship players are fully able to participate in workouts, minus Andrew Platek (Achilles tendon/calf) who has continued to progress well through his rehabilitation effort.
“He can shoot, and run up and down,” Maciariello said of Platek, who is still restricted from contact work.
COACHING STAFF CHANGES
Maciariello said both vacancies on his coaching staff are on track to be filled within the next week.
Maciariello said he’s interviewed several candidates to replace Marcus King, who was not retained as an assistant coach. Meanwhile, the head coach said he had selected a replacement for Matt Miner as director of basketball operations, but that individual’s hire is not yet finalized.
Miner — a Shenendehowa High School graduate, like Maciariello — is working at ShotQuality, a basketball analytics company, following three seasons with the Siena coaching staff.
With the signing of Zekeriya Yigit “Zach” Tekin, Siena has three open scholarships for the 2022-23 season.
“We’re looking for the right fits,” Maciariello said.
A big is likely a necessity as Siena only has one player — 6-foot-9 center Jackson Stormo — who stands taller than 6-foot-7, and Maciariello said the program is also looking for a wing player who can complement the team’s core.
“We need a bigger guard who can play multiple positions,” Maciariello said.
The combination of Billups and fellow freshman Javian McCollum, Stormo and Platek has the look of a group that could make up four-fifths of Siena’s starting lineup for next season.
A big guard, Colby Rogers, left the Saints earlier this offseason after an All-MAAC season with the Saints. The 6-foot-4 Rogers, who averaged a team-high 14.1 points per game, entered into the NCAA transfer portal early this month.
REPORT: MOUNT ST. MARY’S TO JOIN MAAC
An ESPN report Wednesday said that Mount St. Mary’s, the school that Jamian Christian coached before leading the Saints for the 2018-19 season, will join the MAAC for the 2022-23 season.
Mount St. Mary’s would replace Monmouth, which is leaving the MAAC for the CAA. Currently, Mount St. Mary’s competes in the Northeast Conference.
Speaking Wednesday prior to the ESPN report’s release, Maciariello said the MAAC’s stance throughout this offseason had been for the league’s programs to expect an 11-team conference with a traditional 20-game league schedule.
Mount St. Mary’s move to the MAAC, ESPN’s report said, should be finalized next week.