Around campus, there has been a high level of excitement for the Siena Saints Men’s basketball team to begin play. Coming off a very strong season last year, the team hired new head coach Carmen Maciariello and bolstered the rotation with incoming transfers Elijah Burns and Donald Carey. With Jalen Pickett returning for his sophomore season, the program’s first MAAC championship since 2010 is very attainable.
The Saints began the 2019-2020 campaign at the Times Union Center with a 16 point victory over the American University Eagles. The team had a very balanced attack with four players scoring in double digits. Burns and Carey thrived in their debuts for the team with a combined 36 points. Pickett scored a game-high 22 points and showed off his impressive court vision. Manny Camper also had a near double double on an incredibly efficient 6-7 from the field. According to ESPN, the team shot a staggering 52.4% from the three-point line. It was a great showing for Maciariello’s group and gave even further justification as to why fans are so excited for the season.
After the home opener, the team traveled to Ohio to visit the nationally-ranked Xavier Muskateers. Pickett and Burns played well again and the team got to the free throw line 28 times. However, the final result was an 81-63 loss. It was only the second game of the season and a good experience for the team overall.
The Saints then returned home to play the St. Bonaventure Bonnies in the Brother Ed Coughlin Franciscan Cup. The result was an impressive thirteen point win. Carrey set the tone from the beginning of the game with 8 quick points. It was a close first half, but as the game developed the Saints pulled away. The game displayed how multidimensional the Saints offense is. Their guards and wings have the ability to space the floor, operate in the pick and roll, and attack the basket. Their big men are athletic and can go to work in the paint as well. Siena played a very fast-paced game with cohesion and great ball movement. The team had four double-digit scorers yet again. Pickett, Burns and Carrey finished with 19 points each. Camper registered a double-double with 15 points and 17 rebounds.
So far the team is off to a good start. Their strong early play will go along way in building chemistry and cohesion both on and off the floor that will be valuable to their quest for a MAAC Championship.
Here is an interview conducted over email with head coach Mr. Maciariello:
How was it to have such a strong start to the season in your first game as the head coach?
It was such a great environment at the TU Center. Our guys love it there. I was proud of our guys’ effort and with the pace we played. We have been really working hard trying to play faster. It was nice to see Don and Elijah out there after having to sit out. It felt really good to get our first win of the season at home in front of our fans. The best fans in the country.
What goes into preparing for a top 25 team such as Xavier? Is it any different than a normal conference matchup?
Nothing different. You prepare every game with the same approach. The same film work. The same prep. Consistency is key. As well as the details. My staff does a great job if getting Us ready. Coach Wyche handles the defense, Coach Simon the offense and Coach fuller the special situations as well as out of bounds plays.
How will the new additions of Elija Burns and Don Carey help the team this season?
They will help tremendously. Their work ethic, mentorship as well as dedication will provide great examples to our young players. More importantly, though they epitomize what we want in a Siena College student-athlete. They are both high character individuals who strive for greatness in all they do.
A special thank you from The Promethean to Mr. Maciariello for his time and responses.