Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Manhattan 65, Rider 57: 5 Observations

A handful of takeaways as Manhattan moved back over .500 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play with a 65-57 home victory over Rider:

  • "I recognized us."
    Following Friday night's loss to Iona, a showing that prompted Steve Masiello to credit the Gaels for making his team appear "out of sync a little bit offensively," the Jaspers played a style that was much more reminiscent of Manhattan basketball. Although only forcing 12 turnovers, Manhattan held Rider to a 3-of-14 showing from three-point range, something the Jasper coach admitted was integral to the game plan, particularly against point guard Teddy Okereafor. The offense was among its most efficient points of the season in the second half, where the Jaspers shot 14-for-22 (64 percent) from the floor after the intermission.
  • The full Rich Williams experience.
    The junior swingman only scored 11 points on the night, but what he lacked on the box score, he made up for in hustle plays that helped Manhattan grind out a win. Williams struggled with just three rebounds, and missed four of five free throw attempts, but arguably served as the Jaspers' most vocal force on the defensive end, particularly in the second half. His block on Khalil Alford with 5:49 remaining in regulation preserved a one-point Jasper lead at that juncture, and although Rider would fight back and retake the lead, his aggression set the tone for Manhattan's stretch run.
  • A major pick-me-up.
    Tonight's game was not necessarily a must-win, and Masiello agreed with that assessment, but what it did do was give Manhattan renewed confidence on a night where the sense of urgency was somewhat magnified following the Iona game. "I tried to come out as aggressive as possible," said Shane Richards, whose 28 points led all scorers. "I took some bad shots, but I just wanted to get going early, get the momentum going in our favor, and I think I did that for the most part."
  • Big game on Super Bowl Sunday?
    Sunday's trip to Webster Bank Arena for the second meeting of the season with Fairfield, who lost to Manhattan at Draddy Gymnasium in a hotly-contested 72-66 Jasper victory on January 2, looms even larger considering that Masiello has yet to experience a win in Bridgeport, something he openly admitted when asked what he expected from the matinee before Super Bowl 50 kicks off outside San Francisco. "I expect them to be ready," the coach declared. "Sydney (Johnson) does a great job, they have Marcus, (Gilbert) who's a terrific player. They're going to be ready to come at us. They're playing good basketball, they're a very good team."
  • Once again, cooler heads prevailed.
    As he did against Monmouth on January 21, when Zane Waterman and Chris Brady exchanged words after Brady flexed in Waterman's direction following a made basket, which nearly led to extracurricular activities by both benches, Masiello was again thrust into the roles of both peacemaker and defender, running onto the floor to break up a scrum that started when Waterman and Rider's Khalil Alford aggressively pursued a rebound in the final minute, with Manhattan holding a six-point lead at the time. Rider head coach Kevin Baggett took umbrage with Masiello's actions, stating "the only problem I had was one of their guys grabbed Shawn (Valentine). When you're in that, just grab your own guys. I think what happens is once you grab somebody else's guys, it just escalates things."

    With all due respect to Baggett, it is baffling at times to see the lack of credit Masiello gets for not just protecting his players, but those on the other team as well, in attempts to keep the peace and prevent minor incidents from becoming uncontrollable. One could argue that had he not come out onto the court to break it up, things possibly could have gotten worse.

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