Friday, February 6, 2015

Manhattan 78, Canisius 69: 5 Observations

Ashton Pankey's understated effort provided Manhattan with the composure Jaspers needed to put Canisius away. (Photo courtesy of Manhattan College Athletics)

The traditional handful of observations and nuggets of note from Manhattan's 78-69 win over Canisius, the Jaspers' fourth straight, tenth in their last thirteen games, and ninth in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play:
  • Manhattan's defense won the game, but in a deceptive fashion.
The Jaspers' 21-3 run to start the second half, one where they forced seven Canisius turnovers and nine missed shots from the Griffs before Zach Lewis finally stopped the bleeding 9:17 later, may have looked impressive from the casual observer's perspective, but Steve Masiello quickly diffused that opinion. "I'm fine with a lot of shots that go in," the coach admitted. "The reality of it was, our defense in the first half was the exact same the first six minutes of the second half. The difference was, statistically, which I've studied for 17 years, I know those shots aren't going to beat you. To the casual observer eye, you say 'oh, they're getting shredded up.' Over a 40-minute game, it's not going to beat you, and we had our run when they didn't make those shots, and we capitalized on it. That's what you're supposed to do."
  • Trap game?
On paper, tonight's contest may very well have been categorized under that proverbial adage, and Masiello even embraced that notion when describing how the Jaspers came in off two momentum-gaining victories against Siena and Monmouth. "We didn't fall prey to it," he proclaimed, "and I'm really proud of the maturity of this team."
  • Rich Williams continued his surge since coming off the bench.
Chronicled last week before Manhattan defeated Monmouth for the second time this season, the sophomore guard kept his newfound spark alive with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including four three-pointers and inciting a refreshing view of how social media affects a player's psyche. "I think there's so much unfair expectations," Masiello revealed when discussing what players are subjected to via the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and various other networking tools. "I think what's happened with Rich is he finally said, 'You know what? I'm not into this stuff.' He's grown up. He's playing for the man next to him now, and I love him for that. I think he's been a new man. I think the pressure's off him, (and) he's just playing the game for the right reasons."
  • Miscellaneous stats from tonight's game:
Manhattan held Canisius to the second-lowest shooting percentage for a Jasper opponent this season, as the Golden Griffins managed just a 31 percent (19-for-61) clip from the floor. The Jaspers also forced at least 20 turnovers for the seventh time this season, and further solidified their transition efforts with their third consecutive game featuring at least 11 steals. Furthermore, Emmy Andujar's 20-point evening marked the seventh time in the senior's last nine games in which he has reached that plateau.
  • Ashton Pankey: Cool, calm, and collected.
Pankey displayed veteran poise far beyond just his third season in college, anchoring Manhattan's interior efforts and admitting he let the game come to him; even though one could consider Canisius' lineup to be somewhat of a mismatch in his favor, and his mental acumen was hailed by his coach. "A year ago, it was 'throw me the ball,' Masiello stated. "Now, he's coming to me, telling me 'hey, let's be calm.' He's calming us down. You talk about becoming a student of the game, I couldn't be more proud of him."

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