By Kevin Sweeney
The swag is back for the Siena Saints.
According to Jaden Daly of @DalyDoseofHoops on Twitter, sophomore guard Nico Clareth is expected to rejoin the team for tonight’s game at Iona, returning from a leave of absence that was announced on January 16.
Clareth burst onto the scene as a freshman last season, setting the Siena freshman scoring record and being named MAAC 6th Man of the Year. Nicknamed “Swaggy Neek”, Clareth immediately endeared himself to the Siena faithful with his high-flying dunks and dabs after made 3’s.
However, the beginning of his sophomore campaign was nightmarish, as Clareth struggled with his recovery from offseason knee surgery and was suspended for 3 games for an unspecified violation of team rules. Things came to a T in early January, as Siena Head Coach Jimmy Patsos played Clareth just 3 minutes in a win over Quinnipiac, and later stated that Clareth didn’t seem to be “all in” in the game. Clareth hasn’t played since.
Clareth’s return could change the complexion of the MAAC title race, as he will provide some much-needed shooting for a team that ranks near the bottom of Division 1 in 3-point shooting. With the MAAC Tournament in Albany, Siena will certainly be a tough out.
Clareth’s impact was immediately felt Tuesday night, when played 24 minutes and posted 14 points & 8 rebounds off the bench in a win over Iona. It was arguably the Saints’ best performance of the year. Clareth brought energy and intensity to the table, without the crazy shots and antics that frustrated the Saints for much of this season.
“We don’t ever cast our family members aside, ever,” Patsos said after the game on Clareth’s return. “We might be mad at our family members, but we never cast them aside.”