ALBANY — Inside the atrium of his program’s home arena, Siena College men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello repeated what he’s previously said he’s looking to see at Times Union Center when his team’s first game tips off.
“We’re trying to have a sellout here,” Maciariello said at Saturday’s preseason fan event for the school’s men’s and women’s basketball teams. “We want 7,000 fans for that doubleheader on Nov. 5, which is a Tuesday night.”
That night, the Siena women’s team will play Binghamton at 5 p.m., while the Siena men will play American at 7:30 p.m.
On Thursday, Siena announced a five-year extension had been reached to keep Times Union Center as the full-time home court for its men’s basketball program; that extension will keep the Saints at the arena through the 2024-25 season. Siena started playing all its home games at the arena during the 1997-98 season. In the same press release issued Thursday through the Siena athletic department, it was noted that “nearly 90%” of season-ticket holders had renewed their seats from last season, which was an 8% increase from the previous year, according to Siena, and marked “the highest renewal percentage at the start of October in five years.”
Siena finished 17-16 last season, and projects to be one of the favorites in the MAAC this season. Maciariello said the Saints will play “positionless basketball” this upcoming season, and will look to play at a much faster tempo than it did last season when it ranked second-to-last in the country in adjusted tempo, per kenpom.com.
“When it’s all said and done, you’ll see a brand of basketball with five hungry players, playing as one, no matter what positions,” Maciariello said.
Saturday’s fan event took place on Siena women’s head coach Ali Jaques’ 43rd birthday, and the Saints’ veteran coach described herself as “really grateful” despite what has been a trying year away from the court.
In August, Jaques married Marc Rybczyk less than a year after he was diagnosed with cancer. Then, late last month, Jaques’ dad Stephen died.
“So I’m really looking forward to 43 being about everything else,” Jaques said. “Really looking forward to just digging in and diving into this team. Really being focused on us getting better every single day and diving into work, and being really passionate about the players that are in the locker room and are committed to Siena.”
On the court, Siena went 12-18 in 2018-19. That season closed with a MAAC tournament first-round loss Jaques termed “unacceptable,” but the head coach has liked the way her team — which includes five freshmen — has bounced back.
“They’re in the gym at night. They’re in the gym in the morning. They’re asking for extra shooting workouts with our coaches,” Jaques said. “So that’s really encouraging. When you have a team that is in love with basketball, and that’s the main priority for them, that makes them easy to coach.”
The Siena men’s team’s practice on Monday will be open to the public.
The 2:30 p.m. workout will take place at the school’s Alumni Recreation Center.
The Saints started practicing Sept. 26.
“It’s been good so far,” Siena freshman Gary Harris said. “We’ve been working on moving fast, on and off the ball.”