Coaches don’t like to use the word “desperate,” but at this time of the year, that description is both accurate and directly on point for players who are one loss away from ending their careers.
Siena women’s head coach Ali Jaques admitted that her 10th-seeded Saints are in a desperate situation as they try to extend their season with a victory over Manhattan in the opening round of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament this morning at 11:30 at Springfield’s MassMutual Center.
“That’s the sticking point,” Jaques said. “We must shed what has happened in the first two seasons [non-conference and conference schedules]. Now, we’re beginning season three. We must rally the troops.”
The Saints (8-21) had a solid non-conference season with five victories, but they struggled throughout the MAAC campaign, winning only three times in 20 games. Jaques said they can still save their season with a victory or two in the tournament.
“I’ve had some great mentors throughout my career, and one coach told me that at this time of the year, freshmen play like sophomores, sophomores play like juniors and juniors play like seniors. But seniors should play like they are desperate,” Jaques said. “Our seniors need to play like this could be their last game.”
The seniors Jaques is referring to include Kanika Cummings (8.8 ppg), Clara Sole Anglada (5.1 ppg) and Clara Stewart (3.6 ppg), who have not performed with consistency all season.
Jaques said the Saints, who have struggled offensively since the league season began, must find a way to make some perimeter shots. They average only 60.6 points per game, and have connected on only 34.8 percent of their shots from the floor.
“We have to shoot well in this game,” she said. “I expect Manhattan to use a zone defense against us like they did the last time. I think the keys for us will be to make some shots and to rebound the ball.”
Junior Tehresa Coles, from Colonie, doesn’t like the word desperate, but she agrees with her coach that the Saints need to put everything on the table against the Jaspers.
“It’s definitely a do-or-die situation,” Coles said. “We must play an amazing game from start to finish, and I think we can definitely do that. We’ve played some very good games this year, but we must remain focused throughout. I also think the key for us will be defense. If we have a chance to win, we must play outstanding defense against Manhattan.”
Coles has been the team’s best all-around player, scoring 10.7 ppg, grabbing 5.9 rebounds per contest and producing 62 steals. Freshman Meghan Donohue (8.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg), who was named to the MAAC all-rookie team, has also been a bright spot.
Siena beat Manhattan in Riverdale, 82-58, but lost, 62-55, on Jan. 30 at the Alumni Recreation Center.
The seventh-seeded Jaspers (8-11, 9-19) are paced by Monica Roeder (12.0 ppg), Kayla Grimme (9.9 ppg, 78.1 rpg), Allison Skrec (9.8 ppg) and Shayna Erickson (9.1 ppg).