Siena men’s basketball gets lift from invitational finish as it heads into conference play

FILE Siena’s Javian McCollum takes a shot during the basketball game against Quinnipiac in January.

FILE Siena’s Javian McCollum takes a shot during the basketball game against Quinnipiac in January.

LOUDONVILLE – Maybe what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but the Siena men’s basketball team hopes that what happened in Florida last weekend follows them for the rest of the season.

The Saints beat two “Power 6” conference teams in Florida State and Seton Hall, and finished third in the ESPN Events Invitational to improve to 4-3 overall. At a press gathering Tuesday, the Saints realized what they had accomplished, but also knew what really matters lies ahead Friday, with the beginning of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, as it hosts Canisius at 7 p.m. at MVP Arena.

“I’m really proud of our guys’ effort, but to be honest with you, the goal was to go 3 and 0 and win the tournament,” Siena coach Carmen Maciariello said. “Going 2 and 1 was nice. We felt we were right there with Ole Miss. It’s not often you get to the semifinal round of a national tournament after knocking off an ACC foe where we led wire to wire.”

“We really just wanted to prove everyone wrong,” freshman Michael Eley said, “because we were the doubted team there, so having those two wins is big for us.”

Eley was named the MAAC Rookie of the Week for his performance in Florida, where he averaged 6.3 points. In the third-place win over Seton Hall, he had 10 points, four rebounds and four steals in 20 minutes off the bench.

Siena’s Javian McCollum took home MAAC Player of the Week honors. He averaged 18.7 points, 6.3 assists and 2.0 steals over the three games.

“It showed what kind of team we can be,” said McCollum, who bounced back after a subpar game in a loss to Harvard before the invitational. “You’ve got to have short-term memory. I know I had a bad game against Harvard. I just had to let that go and go into [the invitational] thinking I’m going to help my team win. The only way to do that is be the point guard, be vocal, be who I am on the court and always want to win. I think I did a great job of that.”

Graduate student Jackson Stormo said that he saw things from the team heretofore not seen.

“Everybody was as locked in as I’ve seen them this year,” Stormo said. “Watching back on film, we were playing defense harder than I’ve seen so far. We were playing together, playing hard and just really got the job done.”

But everyone Tuesday emphasized that wins over teams with name recognition won’t mean diddly in the MAAC.

“We’re in a one-bid league,” Maciariello said, “so seeding means everything. We’ve got to be playing our best basketball in March. We have to get better every day, so if it takes playing those opponents to bring that out in us, to really magnify that growth, so be it.”


Tuesday’s press gathering also was to announce Siena partnering with the United States Marine Corps Reserve to host a holiday toy drive benefiting Capital Region Toys for Tots.

All fans who bring a new, unwrapped toy to Friday’s game will receive $5 off select seats to Siena’s next home game on Dec. 19 against St. Bonaventure featuring the annual battle for the Br. Ed Coughlin Franciscan Cup.

Toys will be collected on the concourse outside sections 104 and 105.

Categories: College Sports, Siena College, Sports, Sports

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