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Siena basketball looks to push winning streak to 5 games

Siena basketball looks to push winning streak to 5 games

Saints play Sunday at Fairfield
Siena basketball looks to push winning streak to 5 games
Siena plays Sunday at Fairfield.
Photographer: Erica Miller

​LOUDONVILLE — A win’s a win.

But Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello didn’t love the attention to detail his team had in its shootaround before Wednesday’s MAAC victory vs. Iona

The focus his squad displayed during warmups left him discouraged.

And the “atrocious” manner in which the Saints defended Iona left him more than displeased.

Maciariello described Siena, actually, as “lucky” to win that game — and even allowed that the positive result the Saints achieved perhaps wasn’t the best possible one for them as they head into a crucial three-game stretch of road games that starts 2 p.m. Sunday at Fairfield. 

“It may have been better for this ball club if they were to lose that game, to be honest,” Maciariello said the day after his team wrapped up a 4-0 homestand.

Maciariello felt similarly earlier this season when the Saints were in the process of winning five of six games, a stretch that closed with a three-point win against Saint Peter’s. After that victory, Siena suffered a dozen-point loss at Manhattan in a game that saw the Saints use a strong finish to leave Riverdale with a somewhat respectable final score — and Maciariello reminding his players that “we haven’t done anything yet” this season.

“This program,” he said that day, “hasn’t won anything in 10 years.”

Fast-forward to the Saints coming off another 4-0 homestand, and Maciariello said it’s, again, his “job to say, ‘Hey, we haven’t won anything yet’” this season.

Siena (10-5, 14-10) sits a half-game behind first-place Saint Peter’s in the MAAC standings heading into its game at Fairfield (7-8, 11-15), a squad that is coming off a one-point win against Niagara. The Saints topped Fairfield 65-49 at the beginning of their most-recent homestand, and Maciariello said he wants to make sure his players understand that means defeating the Stags on their home court will only be that much more difficult.

“You have to show up every single day and do your job,” Maciariello said, “and do it at the highest level possible.”

EXTRA REST

Siena’s road woes this season have been well-documented.

The Saints are 13-0 at home and 1-10 on the road. Within that road record, though, are three losses from MAAC games played on Sundays following the Saints playing on the Fridays right before them. For those games, Siena had little time to prepare for its opponent, plus had to travel.

“I think you’re dealing with the human nature of it — especially if you had a Friday win,” said Maciariello, whose team won two of the three Friday games involved in the previously described scenario. “You win Friday, whether [the next game] is home or on the road . . . I think guys get comfortable with success. I think guys take for granted how hard it was to beat a team the first time.”

For Siena’s game at Fairfield’s Alumni Hall, though, it is the team with more rest and time to prepare. While the Saints last played Wednesday, Fairfield played Friday.

Since Siena started the season 2-5, the Saints are 9-2 in games played after they’ve had at least two days of rest.

GET IT GOING

With three consecutive games on the road, the Saints have a chance to start building momentum for themselves away from Times Union Center.

With this year’s conference tournament in Atlantic City rather than Albany, that is an opportunity the Saints want to seize.

“It’s huge for us,” Siena redshirt sophomore Don Carey said after Wednesday’s win. “Nothing’s going to be given to us. Everything is going to have to be earned. . . . This game on Sunday is very important for us to set the tone for the rest of the away games we have.”​​​

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