LOUDONVILLE — It’s been a while.
But the Siena men’s basketball team is almost ready to play a home game.
“Can’t wait,” Siena junior Manny Camper said at Thursday’s practice.
But, as they’ve grown used to during the last month-plus, there is a little more waiting for the Saints to do before they take on Bucknell at 6 p.m. Saturday at Times Union Center in Albany. The team hasn’t played a game since its disappointing Dec. 7 loss at Cal Poly, and hasn’t played in its home arena since it topped St. Bonaventure all the way back on Nov. 12. The 39 days between home games is one of the longest such streaks in the country this season, second only to a 42-day stretch Coppin State is currently in the process of going through.
Siena rarely has played on the road during its weeks without a home game, either. Since that win against the Bonnies that moved the Saints to 2-1, Siena has lost all four games it played away from Times Union Center.
“But we’ve played well in front of our home crowd, our fans,” said Siena sophomore Jalen Pickett, whose team is 2-0 in Albany and 0-5 away from it. “So, hopefully, [we can] get a couple wins under our belt and, then, the next time we go on the road, [we can] play well there, too.”
Siena plays its next four games at home, including its MAAC opener Monday against Canisius. After that game vs. Canisius, Siena hosts Holy Cross on Dec. 29 and Monmouth on Jan. 3 to complete its four-game homestand.
While the team’s MAAC opener is scheduled to tip off 48 hours after its Saturday game starts, Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello said that won’t play a factor in how much he uses fifth-year senior Elijah Burns against Bucknell.
“We want to win every time we step out on the floor, so I’m going to be worried about Bucknell until the final buzzer sounds,” Maciariello said. “Then, I’ll worry about the next game.”
Burns battled several injuries during his career at Notre Dame prior to transferring to Siena last season, and it’s been an aim of the Siena coaching staff to allocate extra days off for Burns so he can stay fresh. Earlier this season, Burns struggled in the second half of the Saints’ lone previous two-games-in-three-days stretch. Burns played 29 minutes against St. Bonaventure in a win to start that stretch, then played 24 in a loss against Harvard.
“He didn’t have any lift. He didn’t have any speed,” Maciariello said after that loss at Harvard. “He didn’t have any bounce.”
Fifth-year senior Matt Hein practiced Thursday wearing a mask to protect his healing broken nose, an injury he suffered during the Saints’ loss at Cal Poly.
A starter averaging 19.1 minutes per game despite only playing four minutes at Cal Poly because of his injury, Hein isn’t expected to miss any further action for the Saints because of his injury.
“Matt’s good to play with the mask,” Maciariello said.