Nov. 11, 2011
Link to Original Story, First Published in the Times Union 11/11/11
By: Mark Singelais
LOUDONVILLE -- The Siena women's basketball team is hoping a season that began with a homecooked meal of Danish meatballs will lead to the sweet taste of victory in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
The Saints embarked on a 10-day, four-game exhibition tour of Denmark and Italy this summer to galvanize a team that finished last season with a 14-16 record, the program's most wins in seven years.
"I think it gave us a great start to have the opportunity to play games in August. It was just great for us," senior guard Maja Gerlyng said. "So I feel like we're already a little bit ahead of what we normally are and just socially off the court it was great for us to come together."
The players and coaches were treated to a meal at Gerylng's home in Horsholm, Denmark, where her parents fed them native dishes. Then her family showed the Saints around the country even though Gerlyng's grandmother died the day the team arrived.
"Her parents were unbelievable," Siena coach Gina Castelli said. "They were like our local tour guides. They postponed the funeral until we left to go to Italy."
With that bonding experience behind them, the Saints approach Friday's home opener against Sacred Heart knowing they must make up for the graduation loss of forward Serena Moore, a first-team all-MAAC performer.
While Siena probably doesn't have a single player of Moore's stature, the team does return its next two top scorers from last season with Gerlyng (10 ppg) and senior guard Cristina Centeno (9.5 ppg).
Junior forward Lily Grenci (3.8 ppg), who injured her ankle and Achilles' tendon last year, could take a major step forward after leading the Saints with averages of 17.5 points and eight rebounds during their foreign trip.
"Serena, we needed her," Grenci said. "So I want to be that girl and I want to step into that role and I'm really excited about doing that."
Castelli has added a freshman class that includes 6-foot Danish forward Ida Krogh and 5-9 guard Tehresa Coles, a Colonie graduate who scored 1,046 points in high school.
Siena won five of its final seven games to end last season and gave six-time defending MAAC champion Marist a competitive game in the semifinals before losing 60-45.
"I think what it did for us, it gave us a lot of confidence, even though we didn't win the game," Castelli said. "I think that said a lot for what we can do this year."
Reach Mark Singelais at 454-5509 or firstname.lastname@example.org.