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Long pause over: Siena plays its first video games, wins both

LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. (AP) – The reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference males’s basketball champions are again on the court docket in the end – after a 298-day hiatus.

After three pauses in crew actions since November as a result of a number of constructive COVID-19 exams, the Siena Saints returned to motion with a two-game collection at dwelling towards Monmouth (3-4) and received both – 78-77 in Sunday’s opener and 76-62 on Monday evening – to run their successful streak to 12 video games courting to final season.

“Super proud of this group. Resilient group,” Siena coach Carmen Maciariello mentioned. “We talk about coming together during adverse times and growing our togetherness and our bond, and I think we did that. We found a way to win.”

The Saints, who needed to cancel December video games towards Drexel and Towson, hadn’t performed since beating Manhattan within the MAAC Tournament quarterfinals on March 11, the longest time period between video games for the reason that program paused actions from 1943-46 whereas the nation was at battle. Siena skilled the pauses following a number of constructive COVID-19 take a look at outcomes stemming from this system’s Tier 1 personnel and was the final MAAC crew to get underway. It was the most recent season-opener in program historical past, which dates to 1938.

“You’ve got to deal with the hand you’re dealt and make the most of the situation,” Maciariello mentioned.

The NCAA introduced on Monday that its males’s match could be performed in Indianapolis starting in mid-March, however Merrimack of the Northeast Conference, and Patriot League members American University and Loyola of Maryland have been apprehensive about one thing else – beginning their seasons. They remained the one three Division I males’s groups that haven’t performed a recreation after Boston University and Holy Cross of the Patriot League, which canceled all nonconference video games earlier than the season, lastly performed their first recreation later within the day (the eight-team Ivy League canceled its season in November).

For the Saints, who completed 20-10 final season to win the common season and have been awarded the MAAC Tournament title after play was suspended in March due to the novel coronavirus, the beginning of the brand new season was a really welcome second. Since Nov. 12, the crew had had simply 11 days of full crew actions, whereas fellow league members Iona and Marist had already performed eight video games.

“I don’t know how many practices we’ve had with a full team, where we could actually compete and play 5-on-5 and really have our conditioning where we need to be,” Maciariello mentioned. “I love this team. Guys had the courage and the ability to take shots, make shots, make winning plays.”

With no followers at present allowed at video games in New York due to well being restrictions put in place to fight the pandemic, Siena is taking part in dwelling video games in its Alumni Recreation Center (ARC) on campus as a substitute of on the Times Union Center in downtown Albany just a few miles away, the place the Saints commonly lead the MAAC in attendance by a large margin (6,228 common final yr).

The opener was the first regular-season recreation on the ARC since 1997, and with solely cardboard cutouts of followers behind the benches, the coaches and gamers took the initiative, their shouts of “Defense! Defense! Defense!” echoing off the partitions.

“Our bench did a great job of keeping the communication high and really cheering us on,” mentioned Siena junior level guard Jalen Pickett, who had 38 factors and 20 rebounds in taking part in all however seven minutes within the two video games. “I really thought we had a crowd there with as loud as they have been.

“That was something we talked about. We just had to bring the energy.”

Added sophomore ahead Kyle Young: “We’ve still got to work hard. I feel that we’ve built a lot of team chemistry on and off the floor since we got here. Obviously, we got a late start. We didn’t get to have a summer session. Right now, we’re just focused on the season. It would be great if we could play at the TU with 6,000 fans, but it just felt great to get back on the floor with my team.”

___

More AP school basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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