Siena men’s basketball picked 6th in MAAC preseason poll

Siena College men's basketball coach Carmen Maciarello speaks to the assembled media during the Saints annual men's basketball media day at Siena College on Monday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Siena College men's basketball coach Carmen Maciarello speaks to the assembled media during the Saints annual men's basketball media day at Siena College on Monday.

LOUDONVILLE — The Siena men’s basketball program was picked to finish in sixth place in the MAAC’s preseason poll.

That ranking was unveiled Tuesday night as part of the conference’s preseason awards show, which saw defending regular-season champion Iona picked to finish atop the league.

Saint Peter’s, which memorably made a run to last season’s Elite Eight, was selected to finish tied for eighth with Niagara after losing head coach Shaheen Holloway to Seton Hall and experiencing significant roster changes. Bashir Mason, who led Wagner of the Northeast Conference to a 21-win season in 2021-22, is Saint Peter’s new head coach.

Predicted to finish in between Iona and Siena, in order, were Manhattan, Rider, Quinnipiac and Fairfield. Marist was picked to finish in seventh place, while Mount St. Mary’s took 10th and Canisius was 11th in the poll.

The league’s preseason player of the year was Manhattan’s Jose Perez, who was joined on the league’s first team by Supreme Cook of Fairfield, Nelly Junior Joseph of Iona, Matt Balanc of Quinnipiac and Dwight Murray Jr. of Rider.

Siena’s lone preseason all-league selection was center Jackson Stormo on the second team. Also making the league’s second team were Canisius’ Jordan Henderson, Iona’s Walter Clayton Jr., Manhattan’s Ant Nelson and Niagara’s Noah Thomasson.

Making the third team were Rider’s Mervin James and Allen Powell, Fairfield’s Jake Wojcik, Mount St. Mary’s Jalen Benjamin and Quinnipiac’s Dezi Jones.

Last season, Siena finished 15-14 and lost in the quarterfinals of the MAAC tournament. At Monday’s media-day event, Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello said he liked the attitude and approach of this season’s club.

“There’s no issues, there’s no egos. It’s a group of guys that realizes, hey, we came up short last year, and the goal every year here at Siena is to win a league championship, and cut down the nets and go to the NCAA tournament,” Maciariello said. “So I think they have that kind of journey on their mind, and every day we work toward that.”

Sophomore guard Javian McCollum confirmed that.

“That’s our goal, is to win the MAAC,” McCollum said.

More: More Sports | All Siena

‘READY TO GO’

If the Saints’ first game was this week rather than Nov. 7 at Holy Cross, McCollum said the time he recently missed wouldn’t keep him out of the lineup.

“Oh, I’m ready to go,” McCollum said Monday. “I’m always ready to compete. No doubt.”

McCollum is the Saints’ projected lead guard. The 6-foot-2 sophomore missed approximately three months of 5-on-5 contact work due to offseason dental work, but was medically cleared to rejoin the team fully a couple weeks ago.

McCollum averaged 6.7 points in 18.2 minutes per game last season while shooting 48.2% from the field, 42.6% from 3-point range and 84.2% from the foul line.

The guard said the weeks before the Saints’ season-opening game are crucial.

“I’m building back up right now,” McCollum said. “Only can move forward from here on out.”

HOME SWEET HOME

Zek Tekin, Siena’s freshman guard from Turkey, said he’s enjoyed the process of preparing for his first college basketball season.

“We’ve worked hard,” Tekin said. “We’re playing like a team.”

The 6-foot-2 Tekin said part of what’s motivating him during the preseason is the promise of playing in front of fans he’s heard “have love for this team” at MVP Arena in downtown Albany

“I’m so excited about that,” Tekin said.

After Siena opens play at Holy Cross, the Saints play their next two games at MVP Arena.

NEW SAINT

Siena received a verbal commitment Tuesday night from Michael Ojo, per a source with knowledge of the situation.

A 6-foot-6 perimeter player, Ojo currently attends Moravian Preparatory School in Atlanta. He is Siena’s first commit for its 2023 incoming recruiting class.

Siena offered Ojo in September. Ojo also had a scholarship offer from Norfolk State, according to verbalcommits.com.

More: More Sports | All Siena

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