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Players' input key to helping Siena men's basketball team's preparation

Players' input key to helping Siena men's basketball team's preparation

Saints play Monday vs. Fairfield
Players' input key to helping Siena men's basketball team's preparation
Siena plays Monday vs. Fairfield.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

LOUDONVILLE — Siena College men’s basketball head coach Jamion Christian regularly seeks input from his players on offensive sets they like, how the team’s defense is working and what to make of upcoming opponents.

When the Saints are preparing to play an opponent for the second time, like they are 7 p.m. Monday against Fairfield at Times Union Center in Albany, information from players becomes crucial to Siena’s advance preparation.

“We really work at it together with the scout, especially after we’ve played an opponent,” Christian said last week. “It becomes more of a dialogue after we play a team for the first time.”

So far this season, Siena has played two opponents twice — Holy Cross and Monmouth — and suffered losses in all four of those games. Going forward, though, Siena will play more and more of its MAAC foes for a second time, and Christian wants to use his players’ on-court experience to the team’s advantage.

“We really want to be a program where the players have a great voice,” said Christian, whose team is coming off a 56-54 win at Iona and topped Fairfield 57-48 less than two weeks ago.

While the Siena coaching staff seeks input in general from its players, the information Christian and his assistants look for becomes more specific before a second game against an opponent. In particular, Christian mentioned the Siena coaching staff looks to players for help identifying play calls of opponents and how opposing defenses try to defend the Saints in certain situations.

“So we’re then able to use that stuff and get it back into our scout,” Christian said. “That helps give them ownership, and that kind of information becomes very valuable.”

In terms of helping out the coaching staff with information, Christian said senior Evan Fisher and freshman Jalen Pickett are generally the two Saints offering the most input.

“They’re pretty accurate since they’re right there,” Christian said. “Those guys have great basketball IQs, so they always have a good idea of what’s [happening] on the floor.”

STAYING ABOVE .500

With a second win against Fairfield, Siena will move two games above .500 in MAAC play for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

Siena finished the 2016-17 regular season with a 12-8 mark in conference action. A season ago, Siena lost its first three MAAC games on its way to going 4-14 in the MAAC.

Siena brings a 5-4 league mark into its game against Fairfield.

HUERTER MAKES IMPACT

After not playing double-digit minutes since Siena’s 42-point loss at St. Bonaventure in early December, junior Thomas Huerter played a significant role in the Saints’ win at Iona.

In 19 minutes of action, Huerter had five points, three rebounds and a steal. Siena outscored Iona by five points with Huerter on the court.

Before Saturday, Huerter had not made a field goal this season. He made both his attempts against Iona.

Reach Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.

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