Friday, January 30, 2015

Manhattan 87, Siena 79: 5 Observations

Now 10-10 after second straight win, Emmy Andujar and Steve Masiello are starting to hit their stride in Manhattan's MAAC championship defense. (Photo courtesy of Manhattan College Athletics)

Our traditional handful of observations and nuggets of note following Manhattan's 87-79 win over Siena, which got the Jaspers to .500 for the first time this season:
  • The Manhattan transition defense was somewhat overlooked.
On a night where five Jaspers posted double-figure point totals, the style of play that has been Manhattan's calling card since Steve Masiello arrived in Riverdale should get equal star billing after forcing 22 turnovers against Siena. The total marked the sixth time this year in which the Jaspers prompted 20 or more miscues against their opposition, furthering the efforts of a transition defense ranked sixth in the nation.
  • Siena's frontcourt might be small in numbers, but big in hustle.
Once again playing without the services of Brett Bisping, who will be reevaluated on Sunday as he continues to recover from a dislocated toe that required surgery; not to mention the torn ACL suffered by Imoh Silas before the season started, the Saints got impressive contributions from sophomores Lavon Long and Javion Ogunyemi. Long posted a career-high 20 points to go with seven rebounds on a night where the Baltimore native displayed his range and versatility on the offensive end, while Ogunyemi posted a Rhamel Brown-esque eight points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 9:29 remaining in regulation.
  • Rich Williams finally broke out.
Playing through what could be termed a sophomore slump, the Brooklyn guard came off the bench tonight, setting the tone early and often en route to 13 points, spearheading a 30-13 victory in the battle of the benches. Since moving back to a supporting role, Williams is averaging 10 points per game as a reserve, providing a similar spark to his performance last season as Manhattan won the MAAC championship. "A couple of weeks ago, I just made up my mind that I'd do anything to help the team," Williams said. "The all-league stuff really don't matter to me no more," he added when reminded that Masiello viewed his impact comparable to that of a first team all-MAAC honoree, "but I think now that I let it go, I'm starting to play well."
  • Timely three-point shooting and sharing the ball were the biggest keys to victory tonight.
Manhattan took advantage of a Siena team whose three-point defense entered tonight's game tied with Iona for the worst in the MAAC, torching the nets to the tune of a 9-for-15 effort from beyond the arc. In their last two games, the Jaspers are 20-for-39 from long range, good enough for a 51 percent clip. The hot shooting was bolstered by assists on 18 of Manhattan's 25 field goals, a 72 percent assist rate on an evening where the Jaspers shot a season high 54 percent (25-for-46) from the field.
  • Depth and balanced scoring.
In a nutshell, that tells you all you need to know about Manhattan's system, one that involves constant rotation of fresh bodies to methodically wear opponents down. "This year's team has great offensive firepower," Masiello emphatically proclaimed. "You have seven guys that could get you 20 (points) on any given night. That's the difference."

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