Siena Freshmen Ready To Make An Impact

Entering her second season as head coach at Siena, Ali Jaques will look to build on last season’s 13-18 record and semifinal appearance in the MAAC Tournament. Despite the graduation of Lily Grenci, a First Team All-MAAC selection, Jaques is optimistic that with the improvement of returning players and a talented freshmen class, the team will have a more balanced attack.

Jaques feels that all four freshmen are talented enough to have a significant impact this season. In addition, they have proven to play a style which fits in with Jaques’ approach to the game.

“They have a toughness that I was really hoping for, said Jaques. “Talent is talent but having a certain toughness, they do. They’ve blended well with our team and they’ve earned our team’s respect.”

Junior guard Tehresa Coles has also been impressed with what she has seen so far from her newest teammates as well

“They’ve been able to mesh in with everybody really quickly from day 1,” Coles said. “They were asking questions, diving in. They really just give their all.”

Here is our look at this year’s freshmen class.

Brianna Logan headshot

 Brianna Logan is a 5-6 left-handed point guard from Lumberton, N.J. She was named MVP of the Group 4 State Championship game after scoring 21 points with 5 assists for Rancocas Valley High School last season. The second cousin of Siena Legend Marc (Showbiz) Brown, Logan was rated a three-star prospect and the 62nd best point guard in the 2013 recruiting class by ESPN HoopGurlz.

Logan is already making an impression as a freshman with her ability to run the team on the floor.

“Bri has a lot to learn but as a point guard when you have to go against Theresa Coles every single day you don’t have a choice but to get better,” said Jaques.” “T is one of the best defenders in our league if not the best so it’s hard for Bri at times but she’s taken that challenge head on. We’ve had some interesting battles there. From an offensive standpoint she’s really established herself.”

Logan’s reasons for choosing Siena were many, but she was swayed at least in part by her cousin who is the all-time leading scorer on the men’s side and whose number hangs from the rafters.

“It was really the coaching staff that sold me. I came here definitely for the coaching staff and after watching the team play. Also the familiar and friendly people around campus, and a then little bit of my cousin coming here. It just made me really get into it more. He (Brown) just filled me in on what his experience was and how much he liked it.”

With a strong work ethic, Logan knows what it takes to make her mark at Siena.

“I’m trying to run the team as a freshman. Passing, dribbling, getting used to everyone and controlling the team, kinda like Marc Brown. A lot of people are already calling me ‘Little Biz’. That’s fine with me. I have no problem with it.”

Logan has high hopes for her team and the Siena program.

“I think the team’s really good,” Logan said. “I think we’re gonna go really far and we can definitely win a MAAC Championship. Everyone’s been helping the freshmen to get on the same page so we can all do it together. They (coaching staff) bring the best out of us they’re pushing us, making sure we work hard every day.”

With the season rapidly approaching, fans will come to know and enjoy watching Little Biz.

“I definitely enjoy making people laugh and I smile all the time even on the court,” said Logan. “I smile all the time. I just enjoy being on the court,”

Emia Willingham headshot

Emia Willingham is a 5-6 guard from nearby Albany, NY. One of five finalists for the Miss NYS Basketball Award as a senior, she averaged 19.7 points, 8.9 rebounds, 5.2 steals and 2.1 assists per game She led the Albany Falcons to a record of 20-2 last season, winning the Section 2 Championship and advancing to the state quarterfinals. The Big Ten MVP, Section 2 MVP and #1 selection in the WNYT TV 13 All-Stars, Willingham drew interest from South Florida, Temple, Monmouth, Southern Illinois and Syracuse. A varsity player since eighth grade she led the Lady Falcons to three consecutive Big 10 Titles and competed for the Albany City Rocks AAU program.

Coach Jaques likes what she sees in Willingham and is teaming her up with another local product, junior Tehresa Coles to help elevate the freshman’s game.

“Emia has a knack for scoring that you can’t teach and she’s a lot of fun to coach to,” Jaques describes. “You can see her and T Coles together.  I’m trying to get them joined at the hip because if she can figure out a way to work as hard as T Coles, she’s gonna be a scary player for us in a good way”.

Like Coles, Willingham is also looking forward to being able to continue her career so close to home.

“When I came here it felt comfortable,” said Willingham. “It felt like home. The coaching staff was really good. Coach Jaques has a lot of experience so I just know she will help me with good direction in my four years of college. I can still have my whole family from Albany High as well as my new family from Siena. I think it will be a good experience.”

“We’re really good. I like the team. We’re a running team. The bigs are good so they also run up and down the floor. As long as we continue to run no one can stop us and get back on defense to defend us.”

Although she describes herself as a bit quiet and shy, Willingham has no lack of energy and intensity on the court.

“I’m up-tempo I like to play good defense I enjoy defense and stopping somebody. I take it as a challenge. It’s one of my goals to get a few steals a game.”

Meghan Donohue headshot

Meghan Donohue is a 6-2 left-handed post player from, Mogadore, OH. As a high school senior, she led Archbishop Hoban to a 19-4 record and a second place finish in the Lake Division II District. She averaged 9.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.0 blocks as a junior and was named to the All-North Coast League First Team and a Division II All-Northeast Inland District Honorable Mention.

Donohue will be counted on right away with the graduation of Grenci and the loss of Kate Zarotney to a career-ending injury. Coach Jaques is pleased with her development as a low-post threat.

“Meghan catches everything and finishes everything in the paint,” said Jaques. “While she’s a work-in-progress, she’s been really impressive so far. She’s really dependable”.

Under the guidance of new assistant coach, Stephanie McCormick, Donohue is elevating her game.

“I like to play with my back to the basket, said Donohue. “She’s helped me to bring my game to play faster, and face up and shoot.”

While living on a corn farm on her grandma’s land in Northern Ohio, Donohue hoped to find a small-campus environment to continue her basketball career and found a good fit in Siena.

“Honestly when I visited the atmosphere here was great, friendly and like homey, explained Donohue. “I was looking for a small school. I love it. The classes are nice and small so you can have a relationship with your professors which is great. I’m just excited to be here.”

Donohue tells of how time spent in Loudonville in the off-season was a huge benefit to the team, and in her own development.

“They’re awesome,” Donohue said of her team mates. “We came here in the summer and we’re all becoming really close now. We’re all learning how to play with each other. It’s definitely a lot faster and more physical, but I’m ready for it. I’m excited.”

Halee Adams headshot

Halee Adams is a 5-8 guard from, Hollidaysburg, Pa. A tremendous shooter, Adams has the ability to score in bunches. As a freshman at Bishop Guilforle, she averaged 14 points per game and was named 3rd Team All-State after winning the Class A State Title. As a sophomore, Adams was named to the All-State First Team after averaging 20.7 points per game and surpassing the 1,000 point career mark.

Although she is currently side-lined with a leg injury, Adams has made quite an impression on the coaching staff since arriving at Siena. Jaques looks forward to her return knowing she will have a major impact on this team.

“Halee’s been hurt which is really frustrating for her and frustrating for us,” said Jaques. “I just want her to get better. She’s a special player. She’s a special talent. I thought after spring workouts she could have been our best player on our team just with how well she shoots he ball. We’re just looking forward to her getting healthy and hopefully getting back at least for conference season”.

Adams has a passion for the game and a secret ability to juggle 3 basketballs. She worked hard in the off-season to refine her shooting touch.

“I was working on shooting more and getting a more consistent shot because coach wants me to become a very good outside shooter,” describes Adams. “So, I’ve been working really hard on that and my ball-handling.”

For Adams, the small campus and the coaching staff together sealed the deal for her in choosing Siena. “They were the last ones to come in but as soon as I met them I wanted to come here. It’s such a nice atmosphere.”

In describing this year’s team’s versatility, Adams sees things blending nicely for the Saints.

“I think our team is coming along to be great,” said Adams. “Everyone has different things that they bring to the table and has something they do great. We just all mesh together very well.”

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