MAAC has modest expectations for Siena basketball teams

The Siena men’s basketball team again will have to outplay its preseason prediction to have a chance to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

The Saints were chosen sixth out of 11 teams in the MAAC coaches poll released Tuesday night. The Siena women were picked to finish tied for ninth with Canisius.

Siena men’s coach Carmen Maciariello said Monday at media day he thought the Saints would be chosen between fourth and sixth.

“I don’t care,” he said. “I think there’s some value in (preseason polls) because I always like to know what people think of us, not that I care. It’s fine. It’s a necessary thing that’s always done.”

Siena graduate forward Jackson Stormo was selected second-team all-MAAC.

Iona is the preseason men’s choice to win the league, receiving 10 first-place votes. Second-place Manhattan received the other first-place vote, followed by Rider, Quinnipiac, Fairfield, Siena, Marist, Niagara, Saint Peter’s, league newcomer Mount St. Mary’s and Canisius.

The Saints have been picked sixth or worse in three of Maciariello’s four seasons in charge. The only exception was 2020-21, when they were picked to finish first and shared the regular-season title with Monmouth.

They’ve finished as high or higher than predicted in every season under him with regular-season titles in 2020 and 2021, followed by a third-place finish last season. However, Siena is still looking to play in its first NCAA Tournament since 2010. The tournament was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and Siena was knocked out in the quarterfinals the past two seasons.

Maciariello said Monday he thought Siena would be picked no higher than fourth “probably more because so many teams return a lot, especially Manhattan, Rider, Fairfield, and obviously Iona is always going to be picked near the top.”

Siena returns two starters, Stormo and sophomore guard Jared Billups, from the team that went 15-14 overall and 12-8 in the league last year.

Maciariello said he thought he picked Iona, Manhattan, Rider and Quinnipiac as his top four.  He said he couldn’t remember where he put the Saints.

“I just kind of (pick) whatever I feel are the teams that are going to be our toughest (competition),” he said.

The selection of the Siena women near the cellar wasn’t surprising with the Saints losing five of their top six scorers from a year ago.

“I think we’ll be like nine or 10,” Siena women’s coach Jim Jabir said Tuesday at media day. “That’s where we put us.”

Jabir said he picked perennial MAAC power Quinnipiac to win the league. Quinnipiac was chosen as the preseason favorite.

The Siena women didn’t have anyone chosen to the preseason all-league teams.

The men’s all-MAAC first team is Manhattan’s Jose Perez, also chosen the Preseason Player of the Year, Fairfield’s Supreme Cook, Iona’s Nelly Junior Joseph, Quinnipiac’s Matt Balanc and Rider’s Dwight Murray Jr.

The women’s all-MAAC first team is Manhattan’s Dee Dee Davis, the Preseason Player of the Year, Iona’s Juana Camilion, Niagara’s Angel Parker and Quinnipiac’s Mikala Morris and Mackenzie DeWees.

Note: Siena men’s basketball received a verbal commitment on Tuesday from 6-6 wing Michael Ojo of Moravian Prep in Atlanta. He’s the first member of Siena’s 2023 recruiting class. Ojo has a 6-9 wing span.


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