Friday, February 12, 2016

Manhattan 84, Quinnipiac 77: 5 Observations

A handful of takeaways that span both sides after Manhattan erased a 13-point deficit with a 22-5 run spanning the end of the first half and beginning of the second half, coming from behind to defeat Quinnipiac.

  • Manhattan's rebounding efforts were exceptional, all things considered.
    Very few teams are able to get the better of Quinnipiac on the boards, a testament to how aggressive the Bobcats' style is, emphasizing the need to attack the glass. For Manhattan, just four days removed from a lackluster showing in the rebound department against Fairfield, their minus-1 margin could be described for all intents and purposes as a win. "Give Fairfield credit for taking it to us on the glass," Steve Masiello prefaced his remarks on the Jasper rebounding by saying, "and then we play one of the best rebounding teams in the country, especially offensively, and we play them to only one rebound. When you know what your opponent's going to do to you, and you can come back at them with that, that's a great sign for you."

    "Rebound, rebound, rebound," Calvin Crawford recounted when addressing his preparation for Quinnipiac's style. "This team is crazy on the glass, so that's all I was saying to myself. Good things happened from there."

  • Despite Quinnipiac bottling up Shane Richards, the senior still made an impact.
    In Manhattan's last three games against the Bobcats, Richards has been held to just 4-for-31 shooting, including an 0-for-11 night last year and a 1-for-12 struggle Thursday night. However, the senior found a different way to beat Quinnipiac, showcasing his floor game to the tune of a career-high seven assists. "We knew that coming into the game, they were going to take Shane away, and give them credit for that," Masiello said of Tom Moore's defensive strategy. "The thing I was more proud about with Shane is that he goes and gets seven assists with one turnover. I thought he facilitated from the point forward spot." But for Quinnipiac's plan to minimize Richards, the Bobcats did not account for Manhattan's supporting cast stepping up.

    "Obviously, we focused a ton of effort and attention on Shane Richards, and got the result we wanted," Tom Moore said, "but we didn't really play with as much attention, focus, or determination against (Zane) Waterman, (Rich) Williams, and Calvin Crawford. I just don't think we, individually, got the point across that these guys were playing really well."

  • On the bright side for the Bobcats...
    (...and in an unrelated note, Manhattan's pep band debuted an excellent rendition of The Killers' 2004 hit "Mr. Brightside" during the second half)

    Quinnipiac moved the ball extremely well against Manhattan's pressure defense, recording 20 assists on 26 made field goals for a 76.9 percent assist rate. "I'm proud of our guards, I really am," Moore proclaimed. "I thought they listened to the scouting report, I thought they paid attention really well. I thought our guards were courageous, I really did. There were a lot of good performances offensively by our guards. I thought they did a good job."

  • The Bobcats' two junior college transfers have grown more than expected.
    Playing off the bench, Donovan Smith amassed nine points, seven rebounds, and four blocked shots in 18 minutes, while Daniel Harris' 16 points were a team high, bolstered by a perfect 5-for-5 showing from three-point range. "He's been great, he really has," Moore said of Smith. "I love his hands, his touch, his skill set. He's got good timing, he wants you to affect your shot. He's come a long, long way for a junior college kid, real quickly. I'm really excited to see how he ends this season, and what he can do next year."

    Of Harris, who ended the night with five assists to supplement his 16 points, Moore described his outing as simply "terrific." "We asked him to do some things that are out of his comfort zone again tonight, and he was solid with it. He took really good shots, and the five assists are just as impressive as the 5-for-5 from three. He moved the ball, made the extra pass right to the very end. He's got a good feel and a good sense for what we're trying to do."

  • Road warriors?
    Manhattan's next four games will be played away from Draddy Gymnasium, beginning on Saturday against a Marist team that used a late run to steal a win from the Jaspers in December. From there, the scene shifts to two pivotal matchups against a pair of teams in the top half of the MAAC standings in Monmouth and Saint Peter's, respectively, before a rematch with this same Quinnipiac team one week from Sunday. Manhattan has just two road wins this season, a non-conference victory against Morgan State and a 94-86 triumph over Canisius that was highlighted by 32 points from Richards in a shootout with the Golden Griffins. While Masiello praised his team's efforts on their home floor, he pulled no punches with the second part of the equation for success in February and March. "Good teams win on the road," he bluntly stated, "and we've got to figure out how to win on the road."

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