Saturday, November 5, 2016

Manhattan throttles Nyack in exhibition tuneup, 99-70

Zane Waterman's 20 points led five Jaspers in double figures as Manhattan defeated Nyack in Saturday's exhibition at Draddy Gymnasium. (Photo by Kevin Fuhrmann/Manhattan Quadrangle)

RIVERDALE, NY -- Manhattan's exhibition contest last season proved to be one to forget for the Jaspers, who suffered a buzzer-beating loss to Adelphi while being limited to eight players due to the lack of depth that would ultimately prove to be a harbinger of what lied ahead.

Twelve months later, their effort in the precursor to Friday's season opener at Bucknell was a performance that could best be described as a textbook result from a Steve Masiello-coached team.

Every Jasper to see the floor on Saturday scored at least two points and recorded at least one rebound, while five players ended the evening in double figures as Manhattan coasted to a 99-70 victory over Division II foe Nyack College at Draddy Gymnasium. Zane Waterman led the way with 20 points and six rebounds on 7-of-11 shooting, while guard Robert Tyler paced the Warriors and all scorers with 26 markers in the losing effort.

As Manhattan gears up for its official commencement to the season at the Sojka Pavilion in six days, we leave you with six observations from the preseason affair:

1) Rich Williams did not play, but don't read too much into it.
In the stead of the preseason second team all-MAAC honoree, his teammates had no problem holding down the fort; particularly in the backcourt, where freshman Aaron Walker contributed 14 points and five rebounds off the bench while Zavier Turner added 10 of his own. Na'Quan Council and Tom Capuano poured in nine and eight, respectively, making it a well-rounded effort from the Jasper guards. In particular, Walker demonstrated an ability to handle both guard positions, pushing the ball up fast at the point before transitioning off the ball, even adding a highlight-reel dunk in the second half.

As far as Williams is concerned, it seems as though he will make a return in the near future. 

"Nothing major," said Masiello of his senior leader's absence, "and I think this team could handle it with our depth. He'll be fine."

2) Speaking of the depth, it has returned in full force.
Masiello played nearly his entire roster, and ten players saw at least 12 minutes of action in a system that predicates itself on rotating fresh bodies in and out on a nightly basis. Ideally, Manhattan's starters play around 30 minutes per game, but with the added personnel this season, minutes carried a wide distribution Saturday night, as Capuano logged the most with 23. "I like our depth," Masiello said after the game. "I think it's one of the strengths we have, we can get deep into the bench and do things, but we've got to play much smarter basketball. We're fouling too much, committing careless turnovers, things we've got to get better at quickly."

On the bright side, Samson Usilo made his long-awaited debut Saturday night. Precluded from competing in each of the past two years due to knee injuries, the product of Nazareth High School in Brooklyn scored three points and pulled down six rebounds in 18 minutes, a very solid showing in his first real game action. "He's got a lot of upside with his physicality, his ability to get above the rim," Masiello revealed. "He's got to now work on his timing, his rhythm, all the little things."

3) Zane Waterman, quarterback?
The 6-foot-9 junior ran the floor like a point guard through the majority of the first half, showcasing a new facet to his game that was seldom seen through his initial two seasons in Riverdale. Waterman's hustle and ability to facilitate while being a productive scorer is a trait similar to the floor game that Manhattan competed against for three years when facing Iona's David Laury, and can be a very potent weapon in the Jasper arsenal. "He's doing a great job," said Masiello of Waterman's exploits. "He's playing like an upperclassman, doing a lot of things you'd expect from a leader. I'm very happy with it."

4) Manhattan's calling card is already in midseason form.
The transition defense that is arguably the biggest and most noticeable hallmark of Masiello's teams was on full display Saturday, forcing 25 turnovers against Nyack and turning them into 40 points while registering 16 steals in the process. This part of the game will be critical in the Jaspers' opener, coming against a Bucknell team that is reputed for its fundamentally sound basketball, one of the many factors that earned them a regular season championship in the Patriot League last year.

5) Ahmed Ismail was more than serviceable in the post.
The 7-foot-2 junior college transfer conjured up memories of Rhamel Brown and Ashton Pankey with his size and rim protection, and amassed 10 points in 21 minutes. As always, though, exhibition statistics should be taken with a grain of salt, and Jasper fans will certainly need to develop patience as one of their new prospects finds his way at the Division I level. But as far as first impressions go, this one provided more positives than negatives. "He was nervous," Masiello admitted. "He didn't get to play in our scrimmage, (against Georgetown) this was his first time actually playing live competition. He's going to be much better later on and it's going to take some time, but his attitude is terrific. I'm very optimistic about that."

6) Could Calvin Crawford be the new Rich Williams?
When Williams returns, he will almost undoubtedly occupy a spot in the starting lineup, leaving his former sixth man role vacant. Crawford took a big step toward filling that void, tallying 15 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes to supplement three blocked shots on the defensive end. Crawford provided a similar spark for the Jaspers last season upon his return from an early wrist injury, and began to blossom into the player Masiello envisioned when he recruited him two years ago down the stretch. With a full season on the horizon, it will be interesting to see not only how Crawford will be utilized, but also the impact he makes upon his insertion into each contest.

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