LOUDONVILLE, NY (NEWS10) — While the rest of us are prepping our Thanksgiving feasts Thursday afternoon, the Siena men’s basketball team will be celebrating the holiday by hitting the hardwood. The Saints are set for a road trip to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., for the ESPN Events Invitational.
Head coach Carmen Maciariello’s squad opens up tournament play with Florida State University out of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Seminoles are the first of three high-major squads Siena will face throughout the weekend.
In an interview earlier this week with News10 sports director Griffin Haas, Maciariello commended the structure of his team’s schedule – playing high-quality opponents just weeks into the regular season – and recognized that in order to be playing their best basketball come March, they need to challenge themselves early in the year.
“We always wanna have a benchmark of…being able to do things at the highest level; to beat the best teams on your schedule,” said Maciariello. “So, this will be a barometer of that. We have to play good basketball. I don’t care about the score; that’ll take care of itself. I’m hoping to see a great effort for three games against BCS-level competition to show these guys how much we believe in them, but that they need to believe in themselves.”
Sophomore guard Javian McCollum believes this road trip will be an opportunity for the Saints to get back on track following consecutive, disappointing showings against Army West Point and Harvard University.
“We can’t just say we gotta keep our foot on the pedal; we gotta do it on the court,” said McCollum. “We gotta stick to our word, ’cause that’s what great teams do. And once we get that, I mean, the sky’s the limit for us. So, we just gotta capitalize off that, goin’ into the tournament thinkin’ we can beat anybody.”
It’s an early start for Siena Thursday morning. Tip-off is scheduled for 11:00. You can catch the action on ESPN2.