Here's another in the series previewing conference teams for this season.
Up now ...
2012-13 RECORD: 8-10 in the MAAC, 13-18 overall.
KEY LOSSES: Forward Lily Grenci (15.9 points, 9.5 rebounds), forward Kate Zarotney (4.8, 4.6).
LIKELY STARTERS: 6-2 freshman center Meghan Donohue, 6-1 senior forward Clara Sole-Anglada (8.8, 4.6), 5-9 senior guard Kanika Cummings (4.8, 1.6), 5-9 junior guard Tehresa Coles (9.1, 4.3, 2.9 steals), 5-7 senior guard Ciara Stewart (3.7, 1.9).
KEY NEWCOMERS: Donohue, 5-6 freshman guard Brianna Logan, 5-6 freshman guard Emia Willingham.
NOTABLE: Saints lost their first regular-season game, 69-42, to cross-rival University at Albany on Saturday, trailing by as much as 30 points before the first half was over ... Loss of Grenci, considered by this blogger the MAAC's best player last season, is a huge loss. Then, couple that with premature end (shoulder issues) to the career of Zarotney, a rugged inside player, and it left Siena woefully thin up front ... Donahue lookd good in the preseason and carried that into her first game with a 13-point, 6-rebound effort. At 6-2, she is a legitimate presence in the post and looks like she'll be an effective player at this level ... Two other freshmen, point guard Logan and off-guard Willingham each got extended minutes in the opener (29 and 21, respectively) and had some good moments, and some bad ones as can be expected from freshmen ... Logan is a second cousin of Marc Brown, the Siena men's all-time leading scorer, any expectations for her to play like him aren't fair ones ... It seems pretty clear that the freshmen will play a lot this season ... A fourth frosh, Halee Adams, has knee issues and is out until January. She's a 5-10 guard who was a big scorer at the high school level ... Coles is the best returnee. She ranked 28th nationally in steals last year and is, by far, the best player left off a pre-season all-star squad ...Sole-Anglada has some unorthodox, yet effective, front-court moves and can also step out and hit three-pointers ... Stewart, a senior, got the start at the point in the opener, but only played 11 minutes ... The team is comprised entirely of former role players as Grenci was the go-to individual almost every trip down court a year ago ...The team struggled from the field last season. Its 33.3 field-goal percentage was only better than 10 other Division I teams nationally. And, then, the Saints shot 26.2 percent from the floor against UAlbany, albeit an NCAA team a year ago that still looks strong ... Junior guard Ida Krogh, (5.2 points and a team-best 2.7 assists last season), and senior guard Allie Mullings, who started the last seven games a year ago, did not play vs. the Great Danes ... This is the second season for coach Ali Jaques, who took over after the school fired 23-year coach Gina Castelli.
STRENGTHS: Based on one game, Donanhe looks like she'll be effective in the MAAC, particularly on the offensive end. There's a solid group of upperclassmen that includes four seniors who got playing-group minutes last season, plus four juniors on the roster. Coles is the league's top defensive disruptor, and is effective enough on the offensive end, particularly in transition. She could easily be a post-season all-star pick. Logan and Willingham look to have the skills to eventually be contributors.
WEAKNESSES: The team struggled to score points last season when it had Grenci. This year looks like more of the same. The veterans have all been role players in the past. It looks like the three healthy freshmen will get major minutes, and that's usually not a recipe for success at this level.
REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS: League coaches predicted Siena to finish seventh, and that was before it was known Zarotney wouldn't play. Hard to judge after one game, particularly against a strong opponent. But, this looks like a building year for the Saints and a finish in the seventh/eighth/ninth-place range seems about right.