LOUDONVILLE — Whatever Manny Camper's role grows into as a sophomore, he wants to be ready for it.
That thought is what is driving the 6-foot-5 swingman’s offseason.
“The goal,” Camper said Tuesday after completing a workout, “is just to provide whatever I can provide.”
As a freshman with the Siena College men’s basketball program, opportunities on the court were rare for Camper. Often, he found himself bouncing between positions as former head coach Jimmy Patsos attempted — in spurts — to find playing time for the super-athletic Camper, a versatile wing Patsos often compared to former Siena player Lavon Long.
When Camper played, he showed flashes of that potential — and with Jamion Christian now at the helm, the rising sophomore projects as a Saint capable of playing a much larger role in a system that better suits his game.
“I’m just excited about getting the season started. Last season was a rough one,” said Camper, who averaged 6.8 minutes per game in 16 appearances during an 8-24 season. “But it had a lot of learning points — and I learned a lot — but we just want to turn the program around.”
Christian was hired a little more than two months ago to serve as the architect of that turnaround. In Christian’s system, Camper said he will compete for playing time on the wing — mostly at the 3 — and that his offseason has been focused around further developing his game with that position in mind.
To that end, Camper has spent ample time working on his 3-point shot — he returns most nights to Siena’s practice gym to make an extra 400 to 500 long-range shots on his own — and his ball-handling ability after spending most of his freshman season working as a 4.
“I feel more comfortable on the wing,” Camper said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Camper joined the Saints last year as one of five freshmen, but the Maryland native is the lone player from that recruiting class still with Siena after Christian’s hire. Camper said it was tough to see his classmates leave, but that the new-look Saints have already started bonding.
“Basketball brings everyone together,” said Camper, who is roommates this summer with new transfer Don Carey.
This summer, what has likely brought the Saints together the most has been the weight room. When Christian was hired, one of the first things he said he wanted to do was “empower” Siena head strength and conditioning coach Ian Farrell — and the new coach meant it.
“The first two weeks were probably the most challenging for us,” Camper said. “It was physically challenging, but I think we adapted well as a team and now we’re in the best shape we’ve ever been in.”
Camper has gained a few pounds of muscle since the end of his freshman season and now weighs 210 pounds.
“Being in there longer and being able to work more muscles,” Camper said, “we get more out of it.”
In the season ahead, Camper should have opportunities to get on the court for longer, too. The key to that for Camper is showing he has a consistent outside jumper after a freshman season in which he only attempted two 3-pointers, but he is already confident in his long-range shot.
As a freshman, Camper only took 17 total shots, but performed well in the few games he received extended playing time. Camper wants to earn more such opportunities in the season ahead.
“But I’m not too worried about individual stuff,” Camper said. “I feel like if I focus on team success, individual accolades and stuff like that will come.”