Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Manhattan 69, George Mason 67: 5 Observations

The traditional handful of takeaways, with some quotes sprinkled in, as Manhattan got an early start to its Thanksgiving celebration with a 69-67 victory over George Mason, the Jaspers' first win of the season:

  • Rich Williams' long-awaited breakout could not have come at a better time.
    Williams, who admitted he felt as though he was letting his teammates down, (see our game story for the full quote) picked up the bulk of the scoring responsibilities as Shane Richards was limited to just 13 points, his lowest output of the year. "These two guys are the real deal," Steve Masiello said of Richards and Williams. "This is Batman and Robin. They came out, give Mason credit, they wanted to stop Shane, and Rich picked up all the slack."
  • Tom Capuano furthered his development.
    Four nights removed from a 10-point game against Bucknell where the freshman belied his brief experience at the collegiate level with numerous hustle plays that the box score tends to overlook, he exceeded that output tonight with 14 points, four assists and five steals. "He played like a 30-year veteran," a proud Masiello remarked. "I think his development, he's probably played probably more than most freshmen in the country. When league play comes around in January, he's going to be really that much more experienced."
  • Going to opposite extremes:
    Masiello played both ends of his system to their fullest potential, opening the game in an uptempo attack before slowly turning the game more physical after the intermission, holding George Mason to just 38 percent shooting in the second half after yielding a 61 percent clip in the opening stanza. As the Jaspers ramped up the defensive pressure, any edge the visiting Patriots may have had was negated by the home team dictating the tempo.
  • Amid injury, Manhattan stayed true to its team identity.
    "I have no doubt who this team is," Masiello assessed. "We're just not healthy. The basketball side of things, the personnel side of things, how these young men act, I'm responsible for." The coach took a moment soon after to display his trademark quick wit as well as it related to the current state of affairs on his roster. "I'm thinking about going to med school after this season," he quipped. "It's something I might pursue, I'm not sure, and if I do that, I'll handle that too. Right now, I'm just going to handle the basketball and trust my trainers to do the best they can to get these young men back on the court healthy."
  • Tonight's unsung hero?
    That would be freshman walk-on Matt Maloney, who also happens to be Masiello's cousin. The guard's three-pointer with 2:17 remaining in regulation gave Manhattan a 63-62 lead, its first since a 15-14 edge just over five minutes into the first half. In addition, he took several charges against a strong Patriot lineup. "Sometimes it's harder on family," Masiello revealed when describing Maloney's effort and the dynamic in coaching a relative. "I played with guys who were coaches' sons or related to the coach, and sometimes it's hard on them because of the expectations. What he's done a great job of is doing the little things. He knows who he is, he's very comfortable with who he is, so he does all the other things he needs to do to stay on the court, and that's what I'm most proud of. And he's playing fearless basketball. He's doing a lot of good things right now, and I think his best days are yet to come."

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