Saturday, January 2, 2016

Manhattan 72, Fairfield 66: 5 Observations

RIVERDALE, NY -- As Manhattan rings in the new year with a 72-66 victory over Fairfield for the Jaspers' first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference win of the season, we turn the page on the calendar by providing our first set of observations for 2016 in a recap of the affairs at Draddy Gymnasium:

  • Balanced scoring, and no threes from Shane Richards.
    Manhattan got at least two field goals from everyone except Samson Akilo on Saturday, and everyone contributed at least two rebounds to the cause on a night where the Jaspers were plus-5 (44-39) on the boards. Four players scored in double figures, with RaShawn Stores just missing out on that distinction with nine points, four rebounds, four assists, and four steals. Richards, who ultimately made it to 10 points, was shut out from beyond the three-point line, only the sixth time that has happened since the start of his sophomore year. In addition, Manhattan is now 4-0 this season when holding their opponents under 70 points, and 21-2 over the last three years (32-5 overall in Steve Masiello's five-year tenure) when registering ten or more steals.

  • Super sophomores.
    In just his third game back from a forearm injury that sidelined him for the first nine contests of the season, Calvin Crawford set a new career high with 14 points, a number that tied him with Rich Williams and Crawford's sophomore classmate, Zane Waterman. "I got my legs under me, finally," said Crawford of his stellar night. "It feels good, the wrist feels fine. I'm just happy we won."

    Waterman's 14 points marked the fourth time in the last six games in which he has reached double figures, and the 6-9 forward appears to be getting more comfortable with his role in the Jasper offense. "I think the thing for all of our guys is, any time you lose players like we've lost, it takes them time to understand," Masiello said. "When you're dating J-Lo, it takes you a little bit to understand you're dating J-Lo. These guys are starting to understand right now that they're the guys. It takes time, it doesn't happen right away. The first couple of times you go out with J-Lo, you don't even realize she's with you. These guys are starting to understand who they're with, who they are, and that's what it's about."

  • The future is still bright for Fairfield despite tonight's loss.
    Head coach Sydney Johnson still gushed about the Stags' long-term prospects even after their 66 points tonight marked the fourth-lowest offensive output of the season. "We have the highest-scoring freshman class in the league," he proudly stated, even after Fairfield did not get a third scorer in double figures behind Marcus Gilbert and Tyler Nelson. "The reason why the future is so bright is we have a host of guys who can be that third scorer. Because we're young, it might not be the same guy every time, but it's the best class in the league, and I think it speaks for itself. The seasons that Marcus and Tyler are having speak for themselves."

  • More on Fairfield:
    Gilbert, the senior and first team All-MAAC preseason selection, led all scorers with 23 points, and insisted he is 100 percent after missing three weeks with an ankle injury suffered against Iona on December 1. "I feel 100 percent," he confidently remarked. Freshman Jonathan Kasibabu only played five minutes, but all is well with the forward. "They just went super small," said Johnson of Manhattan's lineup, "so it was a little bit of a chess match in terms of who we wanted out there, but he's definitely okay."

  • Trust the process.
    Masiello's constant advice was rehashed when asked if he felt his team was hitting their best stride at the right time. "I think the right time is March," he shot back. "That's what I worry about. I'm happy we've won three of four, but I don't care if we were 0-27 and the MAAC Tournament started tomorrow. We'll let the play do the talking, and if it's us again, (winning the championship) it's us again. If it's someone else, it's someone else. We'll worry about it come that time."

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