Freshmen Class Has A Lot To Add To Siena Women’s Team

first practice

While the Siena Women’s Basketball Team returns some key players from last year’s breakout squad, a talented freshmen class is sure to add a great deal to the 2015-2016 Saints. Here is a look at the four freshmen along with an update on each from Siena coach Ali Jaques.


Deja Rawls is a 5-7 guard from Abington, PA. She is a very good ball handler with 3-point range. A natural at the point guard position, she is one of a number of new pieces for the Saints this season who will allow them to really push the ball up the floor.

Understanding she has a lot to learn, Rawls is up to the challenge and has embraced all that is being thrown at her.

“It’s very exciting,” said Rawls on playing for Jaques. “She pushes you in practice every time. She’s teaching me a lot since I’ve been here. She’s a great coach. She’s a coach I really look up to and I understand where she’s coming from.”

“I get everybody involved,” says Rawls in describing her own game. “I’m a point guard so I’m just looking for the open man. Just doing the small things on the court.”

Rawls has found Siena to be just the right fit for her both academically and basketball wise.

“All the classes are small and the coaches and the team just welcomed me with open arms,” said Rawls. “I just felt like I was at home. Everybody supports everybody. Even if you are down, somebody’s always there to pick you up. Academic wise and the whole Siena community.”

As for her outlook on this year’s team and what the fans can expect, “We’re a young team so we’re still learning. We’re very athletic. We only had seven players last year so so I think going up and down the court and being fast-paced is something the fans can look forward to.”

Jaques on Rawls:

“Deja’s speed and quickness and her basketball IQ on offense have really helped her,” said Jaques. “I’m excited about her. She’s done a great job so far. She could easily be starting at point guard in our first game. We’ve got a long ways to go before we get there but she’s done a great job so far.”


Katcia Perryman is a 6-1 forward from Poughkeepsie, NY. With an abundance of raw athletic ability, she is one who Saints’ fans should be really excited to watch develop.

Due to her exceptional athleticism, Perryman drew a great deal of attention from mid-major as well as high-major programs. She describes what ultimately led her to Loudonville.

“There’s two reasons. One was the academics. I was looking for a school that was more interactive with their students.  I wanted to be academically sound. Two, Coach Jaques. I believe in her and I feel like she can get me where I need to get. A lot of the coaches that I was talking to seemed like they were trying to sell me things and I was smart enough to know. So I picked this school ultimately for those two reasons.”

“It’s been great. Everything has exceeded my expectations,” said Perryman of her impressions so far of Siena. “They have everything I needed and there is no school I would want to go to but this school. This team is the best TEAM I have ever played with. We play well together. We’re still a young team but we have amazing talent and I can’t wait to see it in games.”

“I am really good at offensive and defensve rebounds,” said Perryman on her strengths. “I’m working to get better at other things but what I can give to the fans is getting those rebounds and put-backs.”

Fans can also look forward to the prospect of seeing Perryman send in a dunk.

“My first time was when I was 15 at the US Junior Nationals in Maryland,” said Perryman on being able to dunk, “My coach told me in the layup line to just play around. I was playing around and I wasn’t thinking about it too seriously and I went up and I put (dunked) the ball in. I was like aweeee. And then I did it two more times.”

On the court, Perryman is focusing on being a more versatile player while getting stronger and adjusting to the college game. Off the court she describes what occupies her spare time, “I like making music. I like writing poems. My father is a music producer so I learned how to use certain things and make my own beats.”

Jaques on Perryman:

“Learning to play consistently at a college pace is something that she’s been working on. She’s got to continue to learn that when she goes 100%, no one can touch her. But, when she goes 75% all the sudden Margot outrebounds her and that just doesn’t make sense because Margot plays at 100% all the time.”


Jackie Benitez is a 5-10 guard from Tobyhanna, PA. A pure shooter who can also really run the floor, Benitez has the tools to put a lot of points on the board. Her ability to knock it down from long range could really open things up for Siena’s proven post players.

She was confident in her college choice, signing during the early signing period along with Rawls and Perryman last fall, “I loved that everyone here’s a family and how the community supports the team so much.”

From there, Benitez enjoyed watching what the Saints were able to accomplish last season and after attending multiple games, could not wait to suit up in the green and gold.

“Watching them play I was like I can’t wait to come and play with a team that fights so much throughout the whole game,” said Benitez. “Now being a part of it is a great experience.”

It’s a lot of fun. All of my teammates make me feel really comfortable. If I’m having a problem or feeling homesick, they’re always there for me so that’s a good thing.”

As for a preview of what fans can anticipate from Benitez, she says it is rather simple, “They can expect me being on the court and having fun with my team and knowing what my job is. I shoot really well. My goals are to work hard and help my team in any way I can to be successful this season.”

Perhaps Saints’ fans will also get a look at the continuation of an interesting bit of game preparation that served Benitez well in high school where she broke the Poncono Mountain West High School’s single season and career scoring records in her junior year. “I like painting my nails a lot. I know it’s weird but I paint my nails the color of the team that we’re going to play.”

Jaques on Benitez:

“Jackie has had some outstanding practices and has had some where she’s been a freshman. So, getting her to have more, outstanding practices than freshman practices is important for our growth. In a gym by herself, she could be easily our best shooter and that’s a weapon that we definitely need on the court.”


Karolina Severova is a 6-0 guard/forward from Prague, Czech Republic. She is a solid shooter with long distance range who comes to Siena with a great deal of international experience.

Severova credits assistant coach Sunny Vadopalaite with making the connection that led her to Loudonville.

“I wanted to go overseas and play basketball here,” said Severova. “Coach Sunny is from Lithuania, from Europe too so she recruited me. She found me from my highlight videos that I posted from national teams.. They saw that and they recruited me.”

Although this is not Severova’s first time playing in the states as she spent a year as a foreign exchange student at Hannibal (N.Y.) High School, she is really fond of her new home away from home.

“I really like it because of the small campus,” she said of Siena. “Everybody is so nice. All Americans are so nice. It’s so different from my country. I like how the communication goes with the teachers. You can talk one on one with them.”

As for on the court, “I like the intensity in practice. In my country practices are quiet. Here everybody claps, cheering for each other.”

“I can see she really understands basketball,” said Severova on playing for coach Jaques. “Every practice, they are preparing, every coach. While she’s a tough coach, she really knows what she’s doing.”

As for Severova’s goals for this season, “Of course to win a championship. I want to play hard and be the most perfect for the team that I can.”

Jaques on Severova:

“Karolina we’ve asked alot of. We’ve put her in two different positions and I think right now we’re focusing her at the trail 4 spot. It’s in her wheelhouse, she’s got the length to play that position plus she can create some mismatches there. She’s a really heady player. She’s smart. She’s still learning American terminology as well.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *