Siena College has been awarded this year’s MAAC men’s basketball championship, the league announced Tuesday in a press release.
Siena finished the 2019-20 season with a 20-10 mark and won the MAAC’s regular-season championship. Its season closed after it won its 10th consecutive game in the MAAC tournament quarterfinals, as the rest of the tournament was canceled the day after that game in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“MAAC bylaws state that in the event the championships cannot be completed, the highest remaining seeds shall be named the NCAA automatic qualifier,” the conference’s press release reads. “For 2020, the MAAC Committee on Athletic Administration decided that the two schools should also be awarded the MAAC championship title and trophies.”
Rider secured this year’s MAAC women’s basketball championship.
“The Siena and Rider basketball programs both exhibited outstanding seasons this year,” MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor said via the league’s statement. “It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t let these teams try to finish what they set out for at the 2020 Hercules Tires MAAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, but the accomplishments that both programs achieved during the regular season should not be dismissed. The MAAC would like to thank all of its corporate sponsors, including Hercules Tires, for their contributions and efforts supporting this year’s championships.”
In winning its first MAAC championships since 2010, Siena finished 15-5 in conference play before beating Manhattan in its lone postseason game. In Carmen Maciariello’s first season as head coach, the Saints had two players — junior Manny Camper and sophomore Jalen Pickett — earn first-team All-MAAC selections, while fifth-year senior Elijah Burns was a second-team pick. Pickett, too, was named MAAC Player of the Year.
Maciariello was the lone first-year head coach in Division I this season to lead a team to an outright regular-season championship, and his Saints’ 20 wins tied a program-best mark under a first-year Siena coach.
“In these difficult times, it's great to be able to celebrate accomplishments," Siena athletic director John D’Argenio said via the conference’s press release. “I send my heartfelt congratulations to both our Siena men's basketball team, as well as the Rider University women's basketball squad who won their regular season championships and were designated as the MAAC qualifiers for the NCAA tournament. The conference's athletic directors were supportive of this recognition and personally, as the athletic director at Siena, I'm appreciative of my colleagues for making this decision.”
This year’s championship is the sixth for Siena in the MAAC. Only Iona, which has won 12 MAAC championships, has won more of the conference’s titles than the Saints.
With its 10-game winning streak to close its season, Siena will enter the 2020-21 season with the seventh-longest active winning streak. Siena finished 14-0 at Times Union Center in Albany, as the Saints were one of 13 teams in the country to finish undefeated at home.
Burns was named Tuesday as this year's winner of the Riley Wallace Award, which honors the top transfer in Division I basketball.
Burns averaged 14.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game while shooting a MAAC-leading 62.2% from the field.
Burns, a Troy native, played at Notre Dame before heading to Siena.