Kyle Downey finds it hard to believe the conference season, during his senior year at Siena College,  is already starting.

“It’s a little eye-opening, but I’m ready for it,” he said.

The Saints open up Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, against the defending champions from Saint Peter's, on Thursday in Jersey City, N.J.

There was low expectations out of the gate for a Siena team that graduated the league's player of the year, Ryan Rossiter (playing pro in France) and 1,000-point scorer, Clarence Jackson (who just signed to play in Ukraine) and finished in seventh place.

Already this year, the Saints have been hit by injuries to senior Owen Wignot (head) and sophomore Trenity Burdine (foot), and yet Siena has still gotten off to a decent start.

“We’re taking it one game at a time,” said Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro. “Of the five games, I think we’ve played well in four of them.”

The Saints started 2-0, lost a tough game to St. Bonaventure, before being blown out by Georgia Tech and the losing at the buzzer against a good Vermont squad.

“We probably should have come away with another win or two,” Downey said. “It’s a long season though and we’re only five games deep.”

Siena has done better then expected, thanks, in part, to the play of four freshmen, who are being relied on  heavily so far this season.

“We’re all playing great,” said freshman point guard Evan Hymes. “We’re just going out and doing what the coaches tell us to do and not trying to make too many mistakes.”

Being dependent on young players can be a mixed bag, with some good performances and some poor ones, but so far this group of Hymes, Davonte Beard, Marcus Hopper and Rob Poole haven't disappointed.

“It’s great experience for them,” Wignot said. “They’re learning a lot.”

The Saints hope to get Wignot and Burdine back soon and that should make them even more dangerous of a team this season.

As for the conference-opener, the Saints are a pretty even matchup with the Peacocks, who lost 85 percent of their offense from last year's NCAA team.

“It’s going to be a difficult game,” Buonaguro said.

The team continues to grow and the players just hope to be in a position to win every game remaining on the schedule.

“We’ve put ourselves in a position to win, which is what we’re trying to do,” Downey said.

Be sure to check out my stories all season on Siena, UAlbany and all of the other local college at Also, check out my other blog ( for more in-depth analysis.