ALBANY — Carmen Maciariello hasn’t relied much on bringing up the memory of last season’s men’s basketball game against St. Bonaventure to motivate his squad.
Siena’s first-year head coach hasn’t felt like that’s necessary.
“I think they kind of remember how that felt,” Maciariello said at Monday’s practice at Times Union Center.
Siena lost 82-40 in last year’s rivalry game at St. Bonaventure, a defeat that saw the Saints trail 42-16 at halftime. This year’s annual matchup with St. Bonaventure takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Times Union Center for the Br. Ed Coughlin Franciscan Cup, which was renamed this year in honor of the former Siena president and St. Bonaventure alumnus who died earlier this year.
“For me, it has special meaning,” Maciariello said. “Obviously, he was the president at Siena when I was hired and I had a great relationship with him. Just looking forward to playing it in his honor.”
Siena (1-1) is coming off an 18-point loss at Xavier, while St. Bonaventure (0-2) started its season with back-to-back home losses. Both teams’ rosters are different in significant ways from a year ago, but Siena sophomore Jalen Pickett said it’s no secret that the Saints are “very eager” for the chance to avenge last season’s lopsided loss.
“This year,” Pickett said, “we’re just going to try and play our game.”
For several reasons, that wasn’t possible for the Saints last year against St. Bonaventure. Then-senior forward Evan Fisher missed that game, while Sammy Friday suffered a season-ending injury during the matchup. Meanwhile, St. Bonaventure used sixth-year senior Courtney Stockard to defend Pickett, who had more turnovers (five) than points (four) or assists (four) in 30 minutes.
“We don’t have a Courtney this year,” St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt said during a Monday session with reporters.
To this point, St. Bonaventure has struggled through two home losses against Ohio and Vermont. St. Bonaventure has more turnovers than assists on the season, while it has shot 15.2% from 3-point territory.
“What scares me,” Maciariello said, “is their numbers aren’t indicative of how good they are.”
St. Bonaventure has won at least 18 games in each of the last six seasons, while last season’s 18-win total snapped a streak of three consecutive seasons with at least 20 wins.
“Regardless, [if St. Bonaventure is] 0-2, 2-0, 1-1 — it doesn’t matter,” Maciariello said. “Mark Schmidt does a great job. His ball club is always going to be ready.”
“Anybody that comes into this building is trying to win, trying to beat us every night we play,” Siena fifth-year senior Elijah Burns said.
Siena won’t play in its home building for more than a month after its matchup with St. Bonaventure, as the Saints play their following four games on the road. Siena doesn’t play again in Albany until a Dec. 21 game against Bucknell.
FRIDAY ‘FEELING GOOD’
After missing the final months of the 2018-19 season, Friday — a senior forward — has averaged 3.5 points and 3.0 rebounds per game through Siena’s first two games in a reserve role.
“I’m feeling good. I feel like I could be a lot better. There’s room for improvement,” Friday said. “I need to get back to where I used to be to help my team.”
Friday averaged 6.4 points and 2.4 rebounds per game last season before suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee against St. Bonaventure. This season, Friday produced a solid outing against American with six points and four rebounds in 12 minutes before struggling through eight foul-plagued minutes against Xavier.
“However many minutes he plays,” Maciariello said, “he has to be locked in and ready to come off the bench and contribute.”
St. Bonaventure is not expected to have 6-foot-10 sophomore Osun Osunniyi for Tuesday’s game. Osunniyi injured his right knee in the team’s opening game, and is reportedly expected to miss the next several weeks.
Osunniyi averaged 7.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game last season.
Against Siena in 2018, Osunniyi had 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 20 minutes.