Sunday, February 15, 2015

Manhattan 79, Fairfield 70: 5 Observations

Zane Waterman's productivity off bench is a continued positive for Manhattan moving forward. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Fuhrmann of the Manhattan College Quadrangle)

The traditional handful of observations and nuggets of note as Manhattan defeated Fairfield 79-70, the Jaspers' tenth win in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, and thirteenth overall:
  • Manhattan's transition game had one of its best efforts.
The Jaspers forced 15 steals, their highest number in that category since last year's meeting with Buffalo at Barclays Center, and turned 20 Fairfield turnovers into 26 points. In addition, Manhattan's eight miscues were a season low. "I'm always happy when you have a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio," Steve Masiello said after the game, "but really, the thing I'm the most proud of is the 15 differential; which was almost 20 during the game, from 40 field goals to 55."
  • The Jasper defense is focusing on a different element this season.
Whereas last year's Manhattan defense predicated itself on holding opponents to a low field goal percentage, this season's group is placing more of an emphasis on forcing turnovers and creating points in transition, similar to what Shaka Smart has done with "Havoc" at VCU. "We're going to turn you over and get more possessions," Masiello revealed, "and we have to do something with these possessions. Tonight, we did."
  • Zane Waterman continues to progress.
The freshman tied a career high with eight points this afternoon, further solidifying Steve Masiello's prediction that he would become a "big-time player" on the offensive end. "I think you see how good he is offensively," Masiello said after today's game. "He's doing a phenomenal job, he has a bright future, and I'm really happy with him."
  • Another of Manhattan's reserves has been impressive in recent games as well.
That would be Tyler Wilson, who set up his teammates with one precision pass after another on the way to six assists without committing a turnover. In his last three games, the sophomore point guard has dished out 17 helpers against just three turnovers, raising his season average to 3.3 assists per game. "What I'm more proud of," Masiello said of Wilson; who also had four steals today, "the guys did a great job of just telling him to be aggressive. After the Rider game, I think he was a little passive, and we told him 'you've just got to be aggressive and go after guys,' and he's been doing that. He has 13 assists to one turnover the last two games if I'm not mistaken. You can't ask for anything more in a point guard."
  • The Jaspers took care of business in their last game before the final two weekends of MAAC play.
Masiello considered this a "must-win" game after a short turnaround following Friday's loss to Iona, and Manhattan responded with a 33-15 run to start the second half in what legitimately was considered a trap game, even more so when you remember that Fairfield defeated the Jaspers in December. "It's big," he admitted. "This is crunch time. We needed the win, the guys knew it, and I think it says so much about a team to come in; this is a day you normally come in, you're flat, you don't have great urgency, you relax, take your foot off the pedal. We didn't do that."

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