LOUDONVILLE — Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello made changes last weekend both to his starting lineup and his overall playing rotation.
Not out of desperation.
The Saints aren’t at that point yet.
Instead, as Maciariello saw it, changes were made in an attempt to further the “growing process” in which Siena, very much, remains after losing two more road games on its trip last weekend to western New York, losses that dropped the Saints’ road record to 0-9.
“It’s never about frustration,” Maciariello said at Wednesday’s practice. “It’s about me putting them in the best spots for them to be successful.”
So redshirt sophomore Don Carey and fifth-year senior Matt Hein moved from the starting five to the bench for, at least, a game. Freshmen Gary Harris and Jordan King found themselves on the court to start things off. Freshman Kyle Young served as the team’s only big who played off the bench.
Siena played better in that one-point loss at Niagara, but failed to secure a win in a game that saw the Saints never trail until the final minute.
“Obviously, you have to be disappointed whenever you lose,” Young said. “Nobody likes to lose, but we have to learn from it. That’s what great teams do. They grow.”
Maciariello didn’t commit to a particular starting five for when the Saints play at 7 p.m. Friday against Marist, but that game will be played at the best possible spot for the Saints: at their home Times Union Center in Albany, where they are 7-0 this season.
It’s nothing new for a team to play better at home than on the road, but Siena’s success at home compared to its struggles on the road is staggering at this point. No other team in the country has won all its home games and lost all its road games this season besides Siena, something that is equally confusing and troubling for the Saints — but not overwhelming them with the majority of their league season still ahead of them.
“We just have to stay together and stay connected,” Siena junior Manny Camper said.
“We know if we just take what we do at home on the road, we know we can beat anybody,” sophomore Jalen Pickett said. “We’re in every game. It’s not like we’re getting blown out or losing by a lot. We’re in every game.”
And the way the MAAC has played out so far this season, Siena hasn’t lost much ground in the standings despite currently sitting in a three-way tie for seventh place. With home games coming up against Marist (3-5, 4-13) and Sunday against Quinnipiac (4-2, 9-7), Siena (3-4, 7-9) is only two games back in the loss column of the three teams tied atop the league standings.
“So we definitely want to defend our home court,” Carey said of the Saints’ matchup with Marist. “It’s just another opportunity to go out, compete and get another win in the MAAC.”
Marist comes into the matchup in second-to-last place, but it has won its last two games. The Red Foxes won home games against Iona and Manhattan, victories that followed a stretch in which they lost 12 of 13 games.
While Marist is playing well heading into its trip to Albany, it’s a game Siena should win — and, frankly, one it needs to win with the way it has struggled on the road.
“This is Siena basketball,” Maciariello said. “We expect to win.”