Zavier Turner led Manhattan with 16 points, but in losing effort as Jaspers fell to Winthrop Tuesday morning. (Photo by Vincent Dusovic/Manhattan College Athletics)
RIVERDALE, NY -- Manhattan competed valiantly before a nationally televised audience, but a 17-2 run midway through the game, coupled with a Winthrop team that calmly iced the game at the foul line, were contributing factors that befell the Jaspers in a 94-81 defeat.
As Steve Masiello's team readies itself for the oncoming challenge from Hofstra, we leave you with five observations from this morning's affair:
1) The freedom of movement rules got tested early, and often.
A grand total of 68 personal fouls were assessed between Manhattan and Winthrop, with each side committing 34 infractions. Although the whistles were equally balanced, the Jaspers were hit harder, with three players fouling out and an additional three ending the game with four fouls. How soon officials will adjust remains to be seen, but the physical nature of Manhattan's style and system will be felt at the charity stripe until they do.
2) Still no Rich Williams, but the show must go on.
Counting Manhattan's exhibition game, the senior missed his third straight contest Tuesday morning. Masiello insisted the preseason second team all-MAAC honoree would be fine, and reiterated that again after today's game, further adding that his primary concern is the readiness of the players he does have available. "I'm worried about this team," the Jasper coach frankly stated. "I'm worried about getting this team better. When Rich comes back, he comes back. We expect him to be back very soon, but we've got to get this team, these players that are on the court, ready to play."
3) Trust the process.
Masiello has always been vocal about the incremental progress his teams make on a yearly basis, and conceded that adjustments with this year's team; particularly with eight players that had not shared the court together prior to this season, would take time. "I don't think it's a selfish thing as much as it is new habits for them," he assessed. "We've got to get those habits."
"Na'Quan Council is a gifted scorer. He's just got to do other things on the basketball court," he elaborated. "Aaron Walker is as talented as anyone in the country, and I'll stand by that statement. His talent is scary. If we can get him to understand urgency and understanding he can't pick his spots, he's going to be very, very good."
4) Winthrop may have a breakout star on their hands.
Junior forward Joshua Davenport exploded off the bench for a career-high 22 points, and supplemented his scoring with eight rebounds and five assists. The 6-foot-5 swingman's contributions were even more valuable given the foul trouble that plagued leading scorer Xavier Cooks. "Since the moment Josh entered our program, he's always been the 'whatever you need,'" said head coach Pat Kelsey. "He's like a Swiss Army knife. He'll play five positions sometimes, and literally, he's played all five positions. Josh is one of the guys I'd consider the heart and soul of our team, because he's so bought into the team, whatever you ask him to do. Sometimes his role is to not play, but he stays positive. And in a big environment under big lights, I think he played the absolute best game of his career."
Davenport was not the only unsung hero for the Eagles on this day, as many others who might normally not be counted upon had to provide their own impact due to the immense fouling woes on both sides.
"Our freshman, Josh Ferguson, came in and gave us great minutes. Freddy Poole is a walk-on, we called his name and he gave us great defensive minutes at a key crucial period," Kelsey admitted. "There was a ten-minute span that we were playing guys that we weren't counting to play major, significant minutes right now. Those guys held down the fort for that really important ten minutes until the end of the half that we could get the cavalry back on the floor in the second half."
5) It may not seem like it now, but this game will serve Manhattan very well in MAAC play.
Winthrop came into this season returning the bulk of an offense that averaged 82 points per game last year and looks to get in transition on every trip down the floor. Sound familiar, Jasper fans? It should. Winthrop's style is, in essence, a fairly similar replica of what Manhattan can expect from Iona later in the season; and also against Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference favorites Monmouth and Siena, all of whom possess uptempo attacks that move the ball well (Winthrop ended the game with an 83 percent assist rate) and get to the free throw line.