Oct. 19, 2010
By Andrew Santillo, Troy Record
LOUDONVILLE -- Siena coach Gina Castelli threw her freshmen into the fire during Sunday's practice.
Castelli put five or her six newcomers on the floor against a group of veteran players. While the veterans won, the 21st-year coach hopes it benefited her youngsters.
"It was really good," Castelli said. "It was probably one of the better (practices) we've had because they were all talking to each other and trying to help each other out."
The freshmen actually did hold their own.
"They stayed with us as if they had been here forever," said senior forward Serena Moore.
Castelli introduced her six freshmen, the most she can remember having in one season, at Siena's media day at Alumni Recration Center on Monday afternoon.
The freshmen may be needed to contribute this season because five seniors graduated.
"Hopefully we don't have to rely on all six of them at one time," Castelli said. "If it's just a couple, sprinkled in there, it'll be good."
Of the six freshmen, three are taller than 6-feet. The other three were described as athletic players who should be able to contribute.
"What we're looking for from these players is not just playing a good game, but also bringing a lot of energy to our team," Moore said.
Castelli, who picked up her 300th career victory last season, does have one of the top returning players in all of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, in Moore.
"She's so athletic that she could definitely be one of the best players in this league," Castelli said. "It's just a matter of being consistent every game. To be one of the best players in the league, you have to do it every night."
Moore, who averaged team-high of 13.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last year, has worked on her mid-range game, hoping to be even more versatile for her final year.
"I was always confident in my shot, but was nervous about taking it," Moore said. "Working on it this summer was the biggest thing."
Moore has been told since high school that if she could develop her shot, she would even more difficult to defend.
"It's hard for people to defend her," Castelli said. "If she has a little bit of a jumper, they have to come out on her and if they come out on her, she can go off the dribble."
Castelli said Monday that Moore is the go-to player and hopefully, they've surrounded her with a good supporting cast.
"I love being that person that we can go to," Moore said. "But I also trust in my team."
The two captains for the 2010-11 season are seniors Cathy Cockrum and Missy Ramsey.
Cockrum is hoping that she and Ramsey can combine to provide good leadership on and off of the court.
"I think Cathy has done a really good job," Castelli said. "When you watch her play, she's so energetic and very vocal on the floor."
Cockrum does see a little bit of herself in each of the freshmen.
"They're so enthusiastic to get started," Cockrum said. "It's all new to them. They've very excited to start the season. Getting to know them off the court, I see a lot of myself in them too."
Siena opens the season at home, against Navy, on Friday, Nov. 12.
Due to an NCAA rule, the Saints were able to begin practice on Oct. 6, and they've used the first handful of practices to their advantage.
Between now and the season opener, there will be plenty more matchups between the freshmen and the veterans.
"The goal now is, as time goes on, the point spread will be different," Castelli said. "It will be closer and at one point, beat them."