College basketball is back.

If you live in the Capital District and love college basketball, this is a great time of year.

Both Siena and the University at Albany began practice Friday evening and the teams kick of the 2011-12 season in about a month.

The Great Danes were picked to finish fourth at America East media day, in Hartford, Conn., on Thursday.

While that is much higher than eighth, which is where they were picked a season ago, the team still feels like they can finish higher.

“It is what it is,” junior point guard Mike Black said. “It doesn’t really matter to me. It doesn’t really matter to us.”

UAlbany finished tied for third last season, with a 16-16 overall record and a 9-7 league mark, but they return four starters and have six newcomers, who they hope will step in and contribute.

Siena College held their media day on Friday, before practice and the players are excited to start the season.

“We’re real excited,” said junior O.D. Anosike. “This is the time of year that we’ve been waiting for. We’ve worked extremely hard this summer to get to this point. The coaching staff has prepared us well, we just can’t wait to get the season started.”

The first day of practice is always exciting, as every team feels like they have a chance to contend for a title.

“I’m really excited,” said sophomore point guard Rakeem Brookins. “We’ve been talking about it for the last month, I’m happy practice is here today.”

The Saints are coming off of a 13-18 regular season and they graduated two 1,000-point scorers in Clarence Jackson and Ryan Rossiter (MAAC Player of the Year).

Siena has six freshmen, one Davonte Beard, who comes in with plenty of buzz. Beard attended St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, in Akron, Ohio, the same school as LeBron James.

“I’m ready to get things going,” Beard said. “I know we’re going to have a good season this year. All I want us to do is work hard, play together and play as a team and we’ll do big things.”

Be sure to check in a for my stories on these teams as the season gets ready to start and follow me on twitter @andrewsantillo.