LOUDONVILLE — Tuesday’s 83-58 loss was one of those games that serves as a reminder about the limitations of this season’s Siena College men’s basketball roster.
Charleston made a point of full-court pressing Siena freshman Jalen Pickett when he brought the ball up the court, sometimes taking the step of denying Pickett from receiving the ball in the backcourt. With the rebuilding Saints’ lack of secondary ball-handlers, Siena struggled to get into its sets in a timely fashion and often had to rush through its plays. The result was a disjointed offensive effort in which the Saints made 9 of 36 from 3-point territory.
“When we’re able to move the ball around . . . we’re a really tough team to play against,” said Siena head coach Jamion Christian, whose 4-7 squad plays at Holy Cross on Saturday. “One thing [Charleston was] able to do was really push Jalen out on spots on the floor, and they really used their speed to push him out and really gave us a tough time.”
Through Wednesday’s games, Siena was taking more time for an average offensive possession than any other team in the country according to kenpom.com. Siena, though, does rank in the top half of the country in adjusted offensive efficiency.
Going forward, Siena redshirt freshman Jimmy Ratliff said the Saints have the ability to be better when opponents focus so much attention on Pickett, who finished with nine points, four assists and three turnovers in 35 minutes.
“He’s a great player, so a lot of teams are going to try to take him out first because then it makes it hectic for us,” Ratliff said. “But we’ve prepared for that. We just didn’t show it [against Charleston] that we can move to the next option.”
After missing a couple games with an ankle injury, senior Evan Fisher led Siena against Charleston with 18 points and seven rebounds.
“It felt great being back,” Fisher said. “I just wish the result was a little different.”
Siena needed Fisher back, too, especially since the Saints look to be without junior Sammy Friday — Fisher’s backup — for at least the next month with a knee injury. Siena struggled when Fisher, a player the Saints coaches often credited as their best team defender, was off the floor against Charleston.
“We’ve got a lot of guys in that locker room that are eager and anxious to play,” Christian said after his team’s loss Tuesday. “We’ve just got to do a great job putting them in the right position, and I don’t think that I did that tonight. I did not put my team in the right position [with] addressing that area with Sammy being out.”
After not playing in Siena’s win at Robert Morris, freshman Georges Darwiche played a season-high 18 minutes against Charleston.
“He’s making great progress,” Christian said. “He really had a great couple days of practice.”
Against Charleston, Darwiche had five points, two rebounds, an assist and two turnovers. Often, Siena played Darwiche with Pickett in the backcourt, allowing Pickett to play off the ball for stretches.
“He’s starting to be that aggressive guy we saw on film,” Christian said of Darwiche, who is from Romania.