Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Monmouth 79, Manhattan 70: 5 Observations

A handful of takeaways from Monmouth's eighth straight win, and program record 22nd overall, a 79-70 decision over Manhattan on Monday night in West Long Branch:

  • Micah Seaborn showed his killer instinct, and led the charge against Manhattan in transition.
    The redshirt freshman led Monmouth with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting, and for stretches of the night, proved to be the X-factor while Manhattan focused its attention on Justin Robinson. "Tonight, I knew that their coach was going to take the ball out of J-Rob's hands," said Seaborn of intending to counteract Steve Masiello's strategy, "and I took that personal. I wanted to have a good night to help my team, and show that you can't take the ball out of his hands and think you're going to beat us. My shot happened to be falling tonight."
  • The injury bug finally caught up to Monmouth.
    Deon Jones was limited to seven minutes, and Rice later revealed that the senior forward's departure was due to a broken hand that will likely require surgery in the near future. "They're going to do more tomorrow and try to find out," the coach elaborated as to Jones' availability not just for Friday's marquee matchup with Iona, but the rest of the season. "Deon said to me that it was in two places, and I said, 'is there anything they're going to be able to do to let you play?' And he said, 'that's why we're meeting tomorrow.'"
  • Calvin Crawford continues to step up.
    Described last season by Steve Masiello as the heir apparent to Emmy Andujar, Crawford, who scored 20 points against Monmouth last month, set a new career high with 22 points and eight rebounds, breaking the 20-point threshold in back-to-back games after going for 20 in Saturday's win at Marist. "I was just trying to listen to my coach and whatever play he drew up," the soft-spoken sophomore said. "I was being aggressive, but I was more focused on taking it play by play." 
    When asked if Monmouth brought out the best in his game, the budding star deflected praise toward his performances. "I think it's more my coach and my teammates giving me confidence every game to go out and play aggressive. Coach always talks about not getting tight this time of year."
  • Don't write Manhattan off just yet.
    The Jaspers acquitted themselves just as well in defeat, playing the regular season leaders to just nine points in a tough road environment. Masiello mentioned his team's necessity to "figure it out" on the road after defeating Quinnipiac on Thursday, and after two straight positive showings away from Draddy Gymnasium, the coach came away pleased with what he has seen. "A lot of progress," he admitted. "I think we're going in the right direction." His counterpart was even more encouraging in his assessment. "Steve is amazing at what he does," Rice gushed. "He doesn't have the numbers that he usually has, but he's still right there, and I'm sure no one's going to want to play him in ten days, twelve days."
  • What's at stake for Monmouth Friday night?
    The Hawks, who have already clinched a first-round bye in the MAAC Tournament, can wrap up the regular season championship by defeating Iona in what will undoubtedly be a raucous atmosphere for ESPNU's 10 p.m. broadcast. By doing so, the Hawks will clinch, at the very worst, an automatic bid to the National Invitation Tournament, and would also bolster their chances of securing an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in the event that they come up short of cutting down the nets at the Times Union Center in Albany. A loss, although not a surefire torpedo to their NCAA hopes, would almost certainly force the Hawks to win the MAAC Tournament to be among the field of 68.