The “edge” he wanted to see his players show wasn’t there Friday night at Canisius.
More worrisome, though, was there wasn’t a Saint in that loss routinely trying to spur on his teammates to wake up.
“For me, that’s the biggest thing. We don’t have an Evan Fisher to anchor the defense and to hold guys accountable — and scream and yell, and get on them,” Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello, referencing the Saints’ senior big man from a year ago, said Saturday in a phone interview. “We have a bunch of guys that sometimes are too sensitive and too worried about themselves, or just want to be comfortable. You can’t win — on the road, especially — with guys that just want to be comfortable. You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Which, to this point, the Saints clearly are not when they are playing away from Albany. Siena (3-3 MAAC, 7-8 overall) still hasn’t won a road game, and needs to play another at 1 p.m. Sunday at Niagara (3-2, 5-11) before a two-game homestand. Siena is one of two programs remaining in the country that is undefeated at home and winless in true road games; Maryland is 11-0 at home and 0-4 in road games, but the Terrapins have won three games played at neutral sites.
Friday’s 73-63 loss at Canisius was Siena’s second consecutive double-digit defeat, and one that Maciariello described as showing that the Saints are “not getting better” in key areas.
Shot selection was, again, an issue for the Saints, who made 9 of 30 attempts from 3-point territory. That total is close to double the number Maciariello wants the Saints to take.
There was the poor showing from the free-throw line, where Siena made 10 of 18 attempts.
And, with leading rebounder Manny Camper battling foul trouble and only able to play 29 minutes, the Saints got dominated on the glass. Canisius controlled 71.8% of rebounds on its defensive end of the court, plus grabbed 41.9% of the rebounds off Siena’s defensive backboard.
“I felt like we had no energy,” said Maciariello, who used sophomore walk-on Robert Mahala and sophomore Georges Darwiche — making his 2019-20 season debut — for a few minutes each to try to remedy that.
What the Saints need, though, is for at least some of their top players to seize an on-court leadership role. Siena had that last season with then-seniors such as Kevin Degnan, Fisher and Kadeem Smithen, guys who competed with the urgency of players in their final season of college basketball and coming off an eight-win season.
“Those three guys, people had written them off,” Maciariello said. “They had something to prove, day in and day out.”
Siena can prove something with a win Sunday. While Niagara’s overall record isn’t pretty, it’s a squad that has won back-to-back games against Iona and Rider.
“Greg [Paulus] is doing a nice job with them,” Maciarello said of Niagara’s first-year head coach. “They’re playing hard. No game is easy on the road, and now we’re playing a team with confidence.”
The Saints need to play with confidence, too. More important than that, though, is for the Saints to play with a purpose — and to make sure that extends throughout the team’s roster.
“The best programs are the ones where the players police themselves and hold each other accountable,” Maciariello said.
SIENA ADDS TATE
Siena received a commitment Saturday from Dana Tate, a 6-foot-7 forward from Boston.
Tate, a sophomore, announced his intention to transfer to Siena with a post on Instagram. The forward averaged four points and 2.9 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game as a freshman at Rhode Island, then averaged 3.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game in eight games this season. Tate left the Rhode Island program in late December; prior to that, Tate had missed the team’s previous three games because of a violation of team rules.
Based on the timing of his transfer, Tate likely will be eligible to play during the second half of the 2020-21 season.