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Know Your Non-conference Opponent: Siena

I’m old enough to remember when Siena was a perennial power at their level and occasionally won a tournament game. If you’re not already applying to colleges, you may not be.

NCAA Basketball: Siena at Holy Cross
It’s okay, guys (it’s not).
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Back when Fran McCaffery was cashing their checks, Siena was actually good at basketball. They won two NCAA tournament games in his last three years before he moved on to bigger and better things and the program went into a slide. They made the tournament in McCaffery’s last year, 2010; since then, they’ve made the big dance zero times, winning zero tournament games in that span.

It’s always a good sign when a program welcomes its third coach in three years though, and that’s exactly what Siena has on their hands in Carmen Maciariello. After Jimmy Patsos’s resignation at the end of the 2018 season, Jamion Christian took over the top job. He spent just one season in charge before moving on to the head coach position at George Washington, somehow not spawning hand-wringing on Twitter and overwrought think pieces about he and his generation lack the fortitude to stay in a tough situation when a better opportunity presents itself.

Anyway, Marciariello is 41 years old and in his first head coaching role. He served as director of basketball ops under Fran McCaffery at Siena, and assistant under the site’s favorite maybe-good-maybe-not coach Ed Cooley at Fairfield, and in various other assistant coaching roles on the east coast since 2005. He has put in the time to rise to the top seat; I obviously have no idea what he’s going to with the opportunity.

Key departures

Evan Fisher, F (15.9/6.0/1.5, .488/.231/.720)
Sloan Seymour, F (9.1/0.7/0.2, .374/.373/1.000)
Kevin Degnan, F (9.0/6.1/0.9, .436/.396/.618)

Fisher was one of the keystone of last year’s Siena team, with a usage rate approaching 28% to go with his gaudy stat line. He and Degnan were a pair of senior 6’9” forwards that spent a ton of time on the floor and dominated on the defensive glass. Seymour was also 6’9” but just a freshman, and he operated under one of the greenest lights you’ll ever see, racking up a 94-252 mark from deep. He followed his former coach to George Washington.

Key returnees

Jalen Pickett, 6’4” G (15.8/4.6/6.7, .436/.348/.746)
Manny Camper, 6’6” F (6.4/5.4/1.3, .486/.133/.522)
Sammy Friday IV, 6’9” F (6.4/2.4/0.3, .561/.000/.480)

How did Jalen Pickett end up at this level? He shot the ball well, didn’t turn it over much, and had an obscene assist rate, plus he has the frame of a high-major PG. He’ll be The Man this year. Camper is the only other guy coming back who put up more than 3 PPG and played the whole season. He and Friday IV - who lost a lot of time to a torn meniscus - will figure to be first in line for frontcourt minutes.

Incoming players

Donald Carey, 6’5” G

A Mount St. Mary’s transfer, Carey averaged 9.0 PPG and 3.4 APG as a freshman before sitting out last year due to the NCAA’s rules regarding transfers. It should be noted that his coach at Mount St. Mary’s, Jamion Christian, also transferred to Siena last year, didn’t sit out, spent one year at Siena before transferring to George Washington, where he will also not have to sit out. Also, he’s getting paid. Christian, I mean. Carey will pair with Jalen Pickett to provide good backcourt size for an MAAC team. He shot 36.4% from deep on 107 attempts as a freshman.

Outlook

There’s a good MAAC team somewhere in there for Siena, but I’m not sure it will emerge this year. With a rookie head coach and some vital pieces missing from last year’s already not great team, this should be more of rebuilding year for the Saints. If they can keep their pair of sophomore guards together for another couple of years, that will be their chance to return to prominence within their league.