LOUDONVILLE — That freshman Jordan King started was a surprise.
It was how much he played, though, that was truly eye-opening in the Siena men’s basketball team’s season-opening 96-80 win against American at Times Union Center in Albany.
Starting instead of star sophomore Jalen Pickett who came off the bench after being late to a team lifting session, the 6-foot-0 King played 30 minutes in his college debut. A graduate of Christian Brothers Academy, King is a walk-on for the Saints, but ended up matching Pickett for the team’s lead in minutes played against American.
King, last season’s Suburban Council Player of the Year, scored eight points.
“He’s a worker,” Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello said. “He’s a high-IQ kid. He can handle. He can shoot. He can pass. For me, you can never have enough of those guys.”
King joined Siena’s program in July. He had considered going to prep school for a season, but instead ended up a Saint.
“I thought we needed to address a little shooting,” Maciariello said of adding King to the program’s roster, “and I think he brings that to the table.”
Against American, King made 3 of 8 shots overall and 2 of 3 from 3-point territory. He missed his first shot, then made a 3 off an assist from Pickett a few minutes into the game.
“I had a lot of jitters in that first minute,” King said, “and, then, once I hit that 3, I knew I just had to play.”
King impressed during the preseason with his ability to get to the basket and make open shots. This season’s Saints are built around a four-man core of fifth-year senior Elijah Burns, junior Manny Camper, redshirt sophomore Don Carey and Pickett, and King provides an intriguing choice to play alongside that foursome because of his shooting ability. Against American, King showed an ability to find open spots on the court as the defense focused on his higher-profile teammates.
“I hope they can play off me, too,” King said. “I’m definitely trying to get better with that.”
Pickett is expected to return to Siena’s starting lineup Friday against Xavier. Besides King, Siena started Burns, Camper, Carey and fifth-year senior Matt Hein against American.
ATTACKING THE RIM
Last season’s Saints emphasized shooting the 3-pointer.
This season’s Saints want to get to the basket.
Through one game, that change was easy to see. Siena attempted 67 shots during its opener, and only 21 of them were from 3-point territory. That’s 31.3%, which is down considerably from a season ago when Siena took 47.7% of its shots from 3-point territory.
Siena made 11 of 21 shots from downtown against American, as each of Carey, King and Pickett made multiple 3s.
MACIARIELLO WINS DEBUT
With Tuesday’s win, Maciariello became the first Siena coach since Louis Orr to win his first game leading the program.
Maciariello was a member of that Siena team. Siena’s current coach played three seasons at New Hampshire, then transferred to Siena. Maciariello sat out during Paul Hewitt’s final season leading Siena, then appeared in every game during Orr’s one-season tenure leading the Saints.
Orr’s Siena team defeated Radford to start the 2000-01 season. In between Orr’s win and Maciariello’s win, five Siena coaches lost debut games. Rob Lanier’s 2001-02 team fell to Providence, Fran McCaffery’s 2005-06 team lost to Penn, Mitch Buonaguro’s 2010-11 squad lost to Vermont, Jimmy Patsos’ 2013-14 team lost to UAlbany and Jamion Christian’s 2018-19 team lost to Providence.