LOUDONVILLE — Emina Selimovic is back for a second season with the Siena women’s basketball program.
That single year of experience makes her a veteran player for a young Saints squad that will be looking to upset their MAAC rivals this coming season.
“As a returner, I already have an idea of how Coach wants to play, what his values are, what he wants us to believe in and what we have to believe in,” Selimovic said on Tuesday. “Because I have this extra year of experience, I can now use what I learned last year and bring it to new people and to my teammates. Now I have to set a standard; set that standard means holding myself accountable and holding my teammates accountable for what we expect from this program.
Siena, back on campus for summer practices, finished 10-19 when Jim Jabir returned to the program last season as head coach. The roster turnover has left the Saints with plenty of vacancies to fill for the 2022-23 version of itself, and Jabir’s 16-deep club includes nine freshmen and just five players who have previously played in a Division I contest. Albany High School graduate Ahniysha Jackson is the team’s most experienced stock market player as a rising junior, and is also the program’s leading return scorer after averaging 5.3 points per game in 19 appearances last season.
In many ways, the second year at Siena is more like a first year for Jabir, who was the program’s first coach from 1987 to 1990. It’s a young team filled with players his coaching staff signed and who now has the chance to form a winning group.
“Everyone had good attitudes, the level of talent is pretty decent – and they don’t know what they don’t know,” Jabir said of the start of summer training for the Saints, who are currently missing their several players from outside the United States. “So we try to teach them as much as possible. It’s definitely a different vibe, and we’re excited about the future.
That immediate future, the 2022-23 season, could be tough — and Jabir admitted that on Tuesday shortly after the Saints completed a conditioning session on a grass pitch not far from their home UHY Center. More immediate win-loss success might have been achieved, Jabir suggested, had he recruited more experienced players through the junior college ranks or the transfer portal and young Saints could “do spin the ball more than 800 times” next season as they learn to play Division I basketball.
“But I love them all,” Jabir said of the newcomers to his team. “I think we’ll have some growing pains this season and we’ll probably lose games we shouldn’t, but I think overall it’s a really good base for what we’re going to build on here.”
London Gamble, one of those nine freshmen, said she had already learned a lot about the transition from high school to college.
“Everything is faster. You have to really hone your conditioning, that’s really important,” said Gamble, a ranger from Moorpark, Calif. “Details. The coaches are very attentive to detail and you don’t have a million chances because there is always someone looking to take your place. Concentration is really important and listening.
Selimovic sees the Saints handling their offseason in the right way.
“This group is very eager to learn. I noticed that everyone reacts to what the coach wants and is looking for,” said Selimovic, who scored 29 points in minutes in 20 appearances last season. “They listen to the details and they want to learn. Everyone wants to absorb like a sponge, and that leaves room for growth. I think we have a lot of potential this year to develop, especially with such a young group.
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Collegiate Sports, Siena College, Sports