Thursday, November 30, 2017

5 Thoughts: Pirates score Top 25 takedown in statement win over Texas Tech

Myles Powell's seven points in 45 seconds helped turn gritty Seton Hall lead down stretch into convincing win over No. 22 Texas Tech. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

NEW YORK -- Even after a win over Vanderbilt helped quell the bleeding after an unexpected loss to Rhode Island last week, questions still lingered over Seton Hall as the Pirates made the trek through the Lincoln Tunnel and into Madison Square Garden, where 22nd-ranked Texas Tech beckoned in the second annual Under Armour Reunion, an event in which Seton Hall competed last year, coming away with a valuable resume-padding victory over eventual Final Four participant South Carolina in the process.

Nearly a full calendar year later, the Pirates emerged with a similar result, fighting a gritty battle for most of the night before pulling away in the final minutes to hand the Red Raiders their first loss of the season in an 89-79 decision at the Garden, moving the Pirates to a 6-1 record through seven games with a daunting task ahead of them Sunday afternoon, when Seton Hall embarks upon their first true road trip of the season against a second nationally ranked team in No. 17 Louisville, who enters the battle of former Big East Conference rivals on the heels of a loss to Purdue in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

A trip to the KFC Yum! Center is on the horizon for the Pirates, but before that, we are pleased to serve up some pre-flight appetizers in the form of five thoughts from Thursday's affair in midtown Manhattan:

1) The Big Cheese
Head coach Kevin Willard has been effusively complimentary of Myles Powell, as have his teammates, as the sophomore continues to evolve into more than just an ancillary option on a team with realistic aspirations of a deep run into March. A particular and defining stretch of Thursday's game was indicative of just how far the Trenton native has come, with even more on the way.

For 45 seconds in the waning moments of the contest, Powell put the defining stamp on the outcome by first splashing a triple off an Ismael Sanogo feed, then driving inside for a layup and finally getting a steal on the next trip down the floor before finishing with a second layup and drawing a foul. All in all, it was a personal 7-0 run that turned a tight six-point game into a 13-point edge, but the larger turning point in his 19-point night came following Angel Delgado's fourth foul with 7:19 remaining in regulation. At that juncture, Powell increased a six-point lead immediately after the ensuing media timeout, converting an assist from Desi Rodriguez into a three-pointer to extend the Pirate advantage to 73-64.

"Khadeen just kept coming over to me," said Powell of the confidence Khadeen Carrington, the Pirates' senior point guard and Powell's backcourt running mate, had in Powell's ability to take over the game with Delgado in foul trouble. "He tapped me on my head and said, 'I know you got a big shot coming.' I just kept that in my head, and then I think it was a dead ball or something. We came over to the sideline, Coach drew a play up for me and I was like, 'This is my time.' I just stayed level-headed and knocked the shot down."

2) Same Old Ish
Anyone who follows Seton Hall basketball with even the slightest hint of investment knows how valuable Sanogo is on the defensive end of the floor. To some, this may sound like a dead horse is being beaten into the ground, but it simply cannot be overstated enough. Once again, Sanogo stopped several runs after he was reinserted into the game in place of Michael Nzei, and at one point, teaming with Nzei to keep Seton Hall within earshot during a first half in which Texas Tech imposed their will while Delgado took a brief respite.

"Ish brings a lot of energy to the game," Powell reiterated. "When he's doing little stuff like that on the offensive end and the defensive end, it just brings fire to everybody and that's when it sparked us.

3) Home Away From Home
With Thursday's win, Seton Hall's senior class improved to 7-3 inside Madison Square Garden, a venue that they have reestablished as a second home court of sorts in recent years. The Pirates may not necessarily have the same advantage inside the World's Most Famous Arena that former Big East brethren Syracuse and UConn (ironically, the Orange and Huskies will face off in the Jimmy V Classic this Tuesday at MSG) continue to possess, but the support from a fan base within short distance that makes itself known and heard throughout games has only grown in droves since the 2016 Big East championship run.

"It's close to home, we have a lot of fans that come out," Carrington said of the allure of playing at the Garden, where he and his fellow seniors have defeated four ranked teams during their time in South Orange, with Texas Tech being the fourth after Xavier and Villanova in the aforementioned Big East title journey, and South Carolina in last year's Under Armour Reunion. "We have a lot of city guys that are playing in front of their friends and their family, and the building is just electric. It's got a feel to it, so you just want to play your best game while you're here."

4) Driven Desi
CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein referenced a stat that has underscored the maturation of one of Seton Hall's most lethal weapons when he mentioned in the postgame press conference that the Pirates are now 20-6 when Rodriguez scores 17 or more points in a game. When Rothstein expounded on that point, inquiring as to what changes when the senior from the Bronx shifts into a higher gear, it elicited this response from Willard:

"With Desi, I think one of the biggest things that I've seen is he's become a lot more consistent with his effort, with his practice; and when he's passing the ball the way he did early on, I just think it gives us another guy to make plays," the coach said. "He's worked hard, but I think most importantly, he's become a very consistent worker. I think he's just reaping the benefits, a lot like all of these guys. These guys are all workers. They're all talented, but I think the biggest talent that they all have is that they all work. They all put the work in, they all work on their games, and I think Desi's really bought into being a consistent worker. It makes a big difference."

5) A Significant Salvo Fired
Texas Tech came into Thursday's contest with the nation's best defense in terms of points allowed per game, conceding a scant 55.3 points on average before Seton Hall scorched the Red Raiders for 89 points, 50 of which came after halftime on a night where the Pirates shot nearly 51 percent from the floor for the evening and connected on 11 of their 20 three-point field goal attempts. The emphatic response to a disappointing finish in the NIT Season Tip-Off last week at Barclays Center revealed praise from both sides of the bench, and fell in line with both external assessments of Seton Hall as well as the program's own lofty standards.

"(If) they shoot the ball like that with their talent and their coach, they're going to play in the second weekend of the (NCAA) Tournament, minimum," Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard assessed.

"It says a lot," Carrington echoed, basking momentarily in yet another resilient victory. "It says that we never stay down. We took a bad loss to Rhode Island and I don't think we came out strong like we usually do, but we stuck with it. We came hard the next day and beat Vanderbilt, and then we focused all week on this game, and I think we did a great job tonight."

Kevin Willard quote book: Texas Tech

On Seton Hall pulling away in the second half and any possible difference:
"I thought both teams played a really good first half. I thought the energy -- that was an extremely high-level game. I thought both teams played a really good first half, in the second half, I thought we were able to get some consecutive stops where we were able to get some easier buckets and shots. I thought we just played a little bit more simple on defense, and I thought that was just a high-level game with two good teams."

On Angel Delgado and the evolution of his supporting cast around him:
"I think the funny thing about -- I think the big fella is playing as good of basketball -- much better basketball than last year, to be honest with you. He's become such a great passer, defensively, he's become someone we can depend on where we don't have to hide him, and I think these guys -- we still throw it to him a ton, but I think he understands that he has so many weapons around him that eventually, teams are going to have to stop double-teaming him, throwing five guys. I think he's playing better than he did last year, and I just think the guys around him are working with him to try to kind of make it easier for him."

On Seton Hall's three-point shooting:
"We talk a lot about getting inside-out threes, and I have the best shooter in the country (Myles Powell) on my team, so anytime he shoots, it looks like it's going in. Again, you talk about (how) Khadeen (Carrington) and Desi (Rodriguez) are career 42 percent three-point shooters, and that's kind of what I was talking about with Angel. He gets us a lot of easy looks. I think that's one reason why we get open threes, because you have to put four guys in the lane against him. If not, he's going to score and get your big guy in foul trouble, and again, anytime Myles Powell shoots the basketball, it's pretty much -- you can count on it going down. I just think when you have a guy like that on the floor, it makes everybody a little bit better."

On Myles Powell's progression and what should be expected moving forward:
"I think Myles is in a great position, because he's playing with four really experienced guys, and what Myles brings more than anything is great energy. I think in the second half, he just played with a lot of energy, a lot of passion. We're still a little bit of a work in progress, so as everybody kind of gets comfortable with what we're doing, I think you're going to see everyone's numbers get better and better. Eighteen assists, I'm happy with, but I think Myles will tell you he's very lucky to be playing with four extremely high-talented guys."

On Desi Rodriguez and what has changed for Seton Hall with his increased offense:
"With Desi, I think one of the biggest things that I've seen is he's become a lot more consistent with his effort, with his practice; and when he's passing the ball the way he did early on, I just think it gives us another guy to make plays and I think he's really elevated -- he's worked hard, but I think most importantly, he's become a very consistent worker. I think he's just reaping the benefits, a lot like all of these guys. These guys are all workers, they're not -- they're all talented, but I think the biggest talent that they all have is that they all work. They all put the work in, they all work on their games, and I think Desi's really bought into being a consistent worker. It makes a big difference."

On potential motivation after no longer being ranked in the Top 25 polls:
"I don't think so. The biggest thing we talked about all week was just getting better spacing on offense. I really harped on these guys on that. Deeno and I watched a lot of film on -- I think he was a little down, thinking he wasn't playing well, and I had to show him that I thought he was playing great and really starting to evolve as a point guard. We had a one-point loss and a guy hit a tough shot on us, but we bounced back and beat a good Vanderbilt team, and for me, it was just, 'We have a big week, let's just focus on Texas Tech and then Louisville.' I really think, for the most part, we just focused on us this week. We really didn't do a whole lot of Texas Tech. It's something I've done different in the last two years on bye weeks, really just trying to get us to really focus on us. We lifted, we did some individuals, I think we kept practice pretty short. I think the biggest thing that I've realized as a coach is sometimes you really have to focus on yourself and getting your team better, and I think that's something that these guys have done a great job of understanding how to help Khadeen evolve, how to help Angel with spacing, and I would agree. We didn't watch film on Texas Tech until yesterday. That doesn't happen with me very often."

On what he has learned about his team through the first month of the season:
"I'm learning a lot. I think even though I didn't play the freshmen very much tonight, I'm really starting to get confidence in every one of my players. I think the biggest thing is we still have a lot, a lot more to go. We've got to go at Louisville, we've got VCU, we've got at Rutgers, Saint Peter's and friggin' John Dunne -- Saint Peter's is playing really well, we've got someone else in there. We still have a lot left, and I think the good thing about this team is they're going to get a lot better. Defensively, we're going to get better, and I can only see us getting a lot better offensively as we kind of evolve a little bit."

On takeaways from playing Texas Tech that can translate to success later in the season:
"I think the biggest thing is when I watched them on film, I thought this was one of the best teams that we'll see all year, just from a depth standpoint. I think (Keenan) Evans is an elite guard with what he can do. I think the biggest thing moving forward is understanding when we see teams that are deep and when we see teams that have -- that play a lot of motion, that we can hang with them and play with them. I've gotta watch film and really digest that for a while."

LIU Brooklyn vs. NJIT Photo Gallery

Photos from NJIT's 73-69 victory over LIU Brooklyn on November 28, 2017.

(All photos by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

Saint Peter's winning early while continuing to grow

Davauhnte Turner advances up floor for Saint Peter's, who routed FDU for second consecutive win. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

JERSEY CITY, NJ -- The banner hangs, catching immediate attention. On the south end of the gym, there are several displays of excellence, but this one stands out: 2017 CIT Champions.
    
That special run of last March, exciting the fan base and alumni, is eight months removed. A number of those players have moved on. There is a new group on Kennedy Boulevard. Some things, however, have not been altered. 
    
Saint Peter’s will still come at you hard, displaying the grit and intensity so much a trademark of their Jersey City location. On the sidelines, now in his twelfth season, is head coach John Dunne. One of the most respected coaches in the business, the Saint Peter’s mentor is one you would be hard pressed to hear a negative uttered about him. 

Following his FDU team’s loss to Princeton on Sunday, head coach Greg Herenda spoke of the meeting with the Peacocks. Herenda knew Saint Peter’s had different personnel in key positions. No matter. Herenda also knew well that Saint Peter’s represented a battle, a well-coached team guaranteed to play hard and lay it all on the line. His assessment was spot on, as Saint Peter’s came away with a commanding 77-53 victory in front of a vociferously vocal Yanitelli Center crowd to even their season record at 3-3.

After falling behind early in the second half, FDU made a few overtures to get back in it. They trimmed their deficit to 14 points on a few occasions, but were unable to really establish a game-changing run, something Dunne praised as his team embodied its longtime style.  

“Coming into the season I had two major concerns, Dunne said. “Every coach has them, but mine were whether would we play hard and be unselfish.” 

Playing hard was manifested in a defense allowing FDU to shoot just 27 percent from the floor. In fact, in the last eight minutes, all the Knights could get offensively was a pair of Jahlil Jenkins field goals. Sharing the ball, Saint Peter’s made 14 assists on 30 field goal attempts. Dunne may look for a higher assist rate, but on this night, he was genuinely satisfied with the offense, one that produced some great perimeter looks following a succession of passes. 
    
“We are going to shoot threes,” he said. “It is who we are. When the threes go down, it opens up for our guards to drive and penetrate. Three-point shooting sets up your opportunities in the lane.”
    
Early on, as is always the case with three-point shooting, there were a few bumps in the road. Dunne looked back to the Peacocks’ loss to South Alabama ten days ago. 

“We took 40 threes,” Dunne said, “and 35 of those looks were wide open with the right people taking them. It was one of those games where shots did not fall.”
    
On Wednesday, they fell on 11 of their 26 attempts. The Peacocks put five players in double figures, with Nick Griffin’s 19 points.

“I am happy for the team,” Dunne said. “When you have a big crowd, it is great, but they expect you to play well. Tonight, the crowd was great, and so was the team effort.”
    
When Dunne speaks of unselfishness, it is not just sharing the ball. It is also personal for the good of the team, freshman guard Elijah Gonzales being an example. 

“Eli did not get in much the first few games,” Dunne said. “He kept coming to practice and working without a complaint. Against Lafayette, he got in and gave us a lift. Tonight he gave us another great effort.” Gonzales finished with 12 points in 21 solid minutes. “He sparked us tonight,” a proud Dunne asserted.
    
Dunne admits this team does not have the length of last year’s squad. Still, he likes what he sees. Beside Griffin, there is junior forward Sam Idowu (16 points Wednesday) and guard Davauhnte Turner (11 points, eight rebounds) to spearhead the retooling process

“We played well defensively,” Dunne said. “But there are things we need to clean up on defense. We have to stop fouling as much. We are getting there, and this team will continue to grow.” 
    
Winning while growing is a nice proposition. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Neubauer praises Fordham offense in loss to ETSU, but stresses need to be defense-oriented

Though pleased with effort in loss to East Tennessee State Wednesday, Jeff Neubauer reaffirmed that defense is most integral part of Fordham's success. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

BRONX, NY -- Since replacing Tom Pecora three years ago, Jeff Neubauer has instilled a stark contrast in philosophy to that of his predecessor.

Gone is the perpetual moving screen and endless dribbling through the lane, replaced instead by a perimeter-oriented offensive game and frenetic system that thrives on creating turnovers while stressing the importance of taking care of the basketball. And in the two-plus seasons in which Fordham has practiced it, the results have come in droves, but the early gratification does not eliminate the need for improvement.

The Rams have placed in the top ten of the nation in both defensive turnover rate and steal percentage in each of Neubauer's first two campaigns, and are on track to do the same again this year, actually leading the country by causing thefts on 17.3 percent of opposing team possessions, as ranked by Ken Pomeroy. And after Wednesday's 82-77 loss to an East Tennessee State team that smoked Fordham by 37 points in last year's season opener, the glaring necessity to turn a great outfit into an exceptional one was uncovered by the visiting Buccaneers shooting 59 percent from the floor en route to their fourth win of the season.

"Our team has got to be a defensive team," Neubauer reiterated as his Rams dropped to 2-4 on the young season, losing the second in a five-game homestand that continues when Maine visits Rose Hill Gymnasium on Saturday. "The way for us to win is with defense."

"They simply took us one-on-one," he continued, highlighting ETSU's decided athleticism edge, which was exploited in the form of guards Desonta Bradford (22 points, nine rebounds) and Bo Hodges (20 points, eight rebounds) flirting with double-doubles for a victorious Buccaneer outfit that manhandled the Rams to the tune of a 34-20 rebounding margin. "Steve Forbes is a terrific coach, and his players simply drove it to wherever they wanted to go, and rose up and made jump shots. We even tried playing zone and we weren't able to guard the ball in the zone either."

The 82 points given up Wednesday night topped the 68 served to LIU Brooklyn on November 13 as the highest point total yielded by the Rams this season, but with Maine, Harvard and St. Francis Brooklyn; all of whom present struggling offenses that Fordham should be able to dictate terms and tempo against, the emphasis on needing to maintain what has helped begin a culture change appreciated in value as a momentum-building spate of games ensues.

"If we wanted to find glasses half-full or silver linings, we just lost to a really good team by five points," said Neubauer. "However, as we try to define it for our players, there just needs to be an understanding that we've got to be better one-on-one defensively."

Monday, November 27, 2017

FDU comeback falls short against Princeton

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

TEANECK, NJ -- Game time approaches and it is difficult to get a parking space. The visitors are Princeton which will bring a following, but the fact remains, FDU matters once again.


Before Greg Herenda arrived in 2013, you could probably get a space right next to the Rothman Center with five minutes before tipoff. Now, FDU is competitive and a team fans simply want to come out to watch and support.
The faithful, it must be noted, did not head for the exits early on Sunday, even though the Knights were defeated by Princeton, 83-76, in a game that showed a lot of what this team is made of. Following eight minutes of play, Princeton held a 23-6 lead. The Knights managed one field goal. That lone basket did not come in a set offense, but rather on Jahlil Jenkins’ steal and three-quarter-court race to the basket.
“We dug ourselves a huge hole the first half,” Herenda said. “It wasn’t so much of what we didn’t do. They got looks and buried them. That team is a junior-senior team. We started three freshmen. They played like veterans and we played as if we are learning.”
At halftime, FDU was looking at a 49-27 uphill climb. They came out not hoisting three-pointers, but attacking the basket. They went on a 10-4 run in the first four minutes after the intermission to gain momentum and get the deficit to 17. Princeton answered. In the first half, the Tigers’ Devin Cannady did appreciable damage from long range. Over the final twenty minutes, the thorn in FDU’s side was Myles Stephens, active around the basket, continually coming up with a rally-stopping conversion.
“Part of our problem besides not stopping them was our inability to get the offense going,” Herenda said.  At the break, FDU had eight field goals and zero assists. Adjustments had to be made.

“At halftime we talked about getting the ball inside to (Mike) Holloway,” a matter-of-fact Herenda stated. “We were able to do that. The first half, we were putting up threes. We made it a point not to come out shooting threes to start the second half. If you have a big deficit and just jack up threes, you will only dig a deeper hole.”
Attention to shot selection, mixed with a few open perimeter shots, got the offense on track. Percentages can catch up. After shooting 7-of-10 from long range in the first half,  Princeton cooled off to just 2-of-6 in the final twenty minutes. Credit FDU’s defense as well.
The clock ticked, probably not enough to Princeton coach Mitch Henderson’s liking, but a relentless FDU kept their focus and continued to play hard. At the seven-minute mark, the Tiger lead was 16 points. With four minutes to play, it was 13, with two to go, it was whittled down to eight. The Knights trimmed it even further, to four points with 31 seconds left, but could draw no closer. Princeton sealed it on the free throw line.

“We had 49 second half points,” said Herenda. “But it came down to that first half where we just couldn’t stop them. This is the best I’ve seen them play.”  

Cannady wound up with a game-high 22 points. The junior guard hit all six of his three-point attempts with a few from NBA range. Stephens added 21. For FDU, Darnell Edge and Jenkins led the way with 16 points each. On media day, Herenda predicted, “you will love Jenkins.” The 5-10 freshman guard “looks like an eighth-grader,” per Herenda. “He is learning fast and he is disruptive in the passing lane.” Jenkins had a game-high five steals.
Princeton is now 2-3, while FDU falls to 3-3 with a trip to Jersey City and a meeting with Saint Peter’s on tap for Wednesday.

“They are young and so are we,” Herenda said of John Dunne’s Peacocks. “They may be young, but play hard. Whenever we face them it’s like a rock fight. It will be another tough one, no doubt.”

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Tavares keys wire-to-wire Fordham victory in Battle of the Bronx

Will Tavares led all scorers with 19 points and contributed five steals to Fordham's school record 17 thefts as Rams defeated Manhattan for second Battle of the Bronx win in three years. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

BRONX, NY -- Manhattan claimed victory in the Battle of the Bronx last season by doing what it does best, locking down defensively and holding Fordham to just eight field goals over the game's final 29 minutes last December.

Nearly a year later, the results in the intra-borough rivalry have become the opposite, but the method of victory remained the same.

Setting the tone for a defensive-minded clash in Sunday's matinee, Fordham created chaos when the ball was not in their hands, forcing 25 turnovers and setting a school record with 17 steals, leading from the start in a 70-57 triumph over Manhattan in the 110th meeting between the two schools and sending the Jaspers to their fourth straight loss.

"Our value for the ball has been a lot better this year than it was last," head coach Jeff Neubauer remarked as the Rams (2-3) returned from two games in Jamaica to an effort where Will Tavares and Joseph Chartouny each recorded five steals, just as many as Manhattan amassed as a team. The defensive ball-hawking contributed to a transition game that outscored the Jaspers 16-4 in fast break points, and led to 23 assists on 30 field goals on an afternoon where each Fordham player to take the floor picked up at least one helper.

"It tells a lot about our guys," Neubauer said of the effort on both sides of the floor, particularly on defense, where 13 of the Rams' thefts came in the first half. "We do guard the ball, (and) we work on it. It's something that's very important to our program. We play with a lot of effort and we're going to get better and better, but our defense, through all five games we've played, really has been pretty consistent."

Fordham jumped out to an 11-4 advantage to begin the game, feasting on a Manhattan team that was unable to hold on to the basketball in the opening minutes, already registering eight turnovers by the 12-minute media timeout and resurrecting the struggles of last year's game at West Virginia, where the Mountaineers turned the Jaspers over 40 times. A pair of threes by Rich Williams, who led the visitors with 12 points, pulled Manhattan (2-4) within one, but the Rams restored control with a 10-3 run shortly thereafter en route to a 31-23 halftime lead.

The Jaspers would get no closer than within eight points for the remainder of the day, their inconsistency and inability to stop Fordham in the paint leading to their downfall. Trailing 43-35 with 14:43 left to play in regulation, it appeared that Manhattan was on the verge of going on a run to get back in the game, but the Rams put the brakes on any potential rally with a 15-4 run that was capped by a Tavares scoop layup that put Fordham ahead 58-39, the largest lead of the contest. 

A 13-2 spurt by the Jaspers got the margin back to eight points after Calvin Crawford's layup with 5:04 on the clock, but Fordham shut the door with ten unanswered points over the next three minutes, beginning with a Chartouny layup on the ensuing possession following the Crawford basket and ending with a Tavares free throw shortly after Ivan Raut's triple in the right corner served as the official dagger for a team that showed potential in winning their first two games of the season, but has since regressed enough to where its head coach highlighted a primary concern as Manhattan prepares to travel overseas for the Belfast Classic.

"Just being consistent, coming out with a defensive mindset every night," Steve Masiello assessed when prompted to address the issues plaguing his team in the past eight days. "I think we played good basketball in Florida two of the three nights (in the Gulf Coast Showcase). The scoreboard didn't show it, we just came up a little bit short."

"Give Fordham credit. Jeff had his team more prepared than I did. We didn't come out ready to play, and that's on me."

In addition to Williams and Crawford, whose 11 points and 10 rebounds gave the senior forward his second double-double of the season, Zane Waterman and Tom Capuano posted 11 points apiece to give the Jaspers four players in double figures. Fordham had four go for 10 or more points as well, with Tavares' 19 pacing all scorers. Perris Hicks added 15 on a perfect 6-for-6 effort from the floor, with Raut going for 14 and Jesse Bunting tying a career-high with 12 points in his first start of the year for a team that admittedly needed a pick-me-up in its return to the United States.

"This was a really gutty performance by our team," said Neubauer. "Will said this to me in the locker room after the game -- he said we needed that one, and he's right. Our team is a group that simply needed a win to just feel better about how we're approaching the game and how we're playing. This one will give us confidence."

Battle of the Bronx: Quotes and Observations

Due to the brief press conferences for both coaches and nature of Sunday's 70-57 Fordham victory, what would normally be a separate post for quotes and observations from each team will be condensed into one:

Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello's opening statement:
"Give Fordham credit. Jeff had his team more prepared than I did. We didn't come out ready to play, and that's on me."

On his biggest concern during Manhattan's four-game losing streak:
"Just being consistent, I think coming out with a defensive mindset every night. I think we played good basketball in Florida two of the three nights -- the scoreboard didn't show it -- we just came up a little bit short, but I thought tonight and UMKC, we didn't come out ready to play and I gotta -- that's on me."

On Manhattan's 25 turnovers and it being attributed to Fordham's pressure:
"I'll give Fordham all the credit in the world. I'm not a coach to ever not credit the other team, so I'll give Fordham all the credit, but I really don't think they pressured us. I just thought they kind of sat back in the 2-3 zone for 17 minutes of the half and I just thought we were throwing the ball all over the building like we've never seen a zone before, and that's a little strange because we play against zone 80 percent of the day every day."

On worrying about finding a consistent third scorer behind Rich Williams and Calvin Crawford:
"Not at all. There's too much talent on this team. That's not a problem. We've got to get back to playing defense."

On biggest concern going to Northern Ireland for the Belfast Classic:
"Just getting better, getting our team back."

Fordham head coach Jeff Neubauer's opening statement:
"This was a really gutty performance by our team. I'm really proud of our group. We went down to Jamaica and played two really good teams and we competed, but we knew we could play a whole lot better. We had a lot of guys step up today, a lot of guys that just played with confidence. Will (Tavares) played really well, Perris (Hicks) off the bench, but the guy we're most proud of -- Jesse Bunting really gutted out 21 minutes and really brought a lot to the table."

On an eight-man rotation and standing up to Manhattan's depth:
"They really only play about eight guys as well. That's one point I made to the team before the game. They do play a very aggressive style, they make it a 40-minute, 94-foot game, but it really was 8-on-8, and we were confident in our eight guys and I'm really proud of how we controlled the game."

On growth of Fordham's defensive abilities and what he can take away:
"Thirteen steals in the first half, it tells a lot about our guys. We do guard the ball, we work on it. It's something that's very important to our program. We play with a lot of effort and we're going to get better and better, but our defense; through all five games we've played, really has been pretty consistent."

Will Tavares (game-high 19 points) on his role in Fordham's system and today's matchup:
"We've been getting ready for the Manhattan game since the summer, in workouts, me and Coach. We do a lot of high post catch shooting because they play zone and it's open, so a lot of my decisions came from the high post -- just catch it, pass it and drive."

Neubauer's update on Prokop Slanina:
"No. With all of our guys, it's day-to-day, and we'll get him back soon."

Update on Jesse Bunting:
"He'll be fine, actually. He's had a lot of injuries through his three-year career, but I think he just had some spasms here tonight."

Neubauer on offensive changes after a rough start:
"Part of it is Manhattan plays their zone all year long and they've really become great at it, and we talked to our team; not only in this game, but in other games: Let's improve as the game goes on, so we stuck with the same offensive plan against that zone even though it wasn't very pretty early, and our guys just got a little more comfortable and got better at making decisions against the zone. Manhattan's really good at what they do."

On Joseph Chartouny and his shooting:
"If you look at what Joe Chartouny's career has been, it's really been a balance of just giving this team whatever it needs. Joe has scored points in his career, but what he's done more than that, last year he was number one in the country in steal percentage. He has been our leading rebounder at different times during his career. Joe just does whatever it takes for us to win, so we're not asking him to score. We're simply asking him to make sure we win the game."

On ball movement with 23 assists on 30 field goals:
"Our value for the ball has been a lot better this year than it was last, and a lot of those assists also came in transition, where we had guys that made unselfish plays two-on-one, three-on-one, and it led to layups."

On expectations going into Wednesday's game against East Tennessee State:
"We're simply taking it one day at a time, and what I mean by that is; and Will said this to me in the locker room after the game, he said we needed that one, and he's right. Our team is a group that simply needed a win to just feel better about how we're approaching the game and how we're playing. This one will give us confidence."

Tavares on responding to not having a true post presence and do more than usual:
"I don't know -- it was a like a timeout probably early in the first half, and I just huddled the guys up and said, 'We're going to have to give it our all, we're going to have to rebound because we're already undersized. If everybody just pitches in, boxes out or helps out, somehow it's gonna get the job done.'"

Observations
1) Record-setting defense.
Fordham set a school record with 17 steals, as Will Tavares and Joseph Chartouny recorded five each, giving both of the two guards as many steals individually as Manhattan had as a team. The Rams turned Manhattan over 25 times, 17 in the first half, and although they only scored 24 points off the miscues, their transition offense fed off the opportunities to the tune of a 16-4 margin in fast break points. In addition, the 57 points surrendered represent the lowest point total Fordham has yielded to a Steve Masiello team since he took over the Manhattan program in 2011.

2) Career days from two unexpected sources.
Getting the nod to begin the game in place of Prokop Slanina, who was unavailable, Jesse Bunting delivered with 12 points and six rebounds, tying his career high in the former. The 6-foot-8 junior entered today's contest with just 105 career points and an average of under two points per game, but before cramping up in the second half, proved to be a weapon that Manhattan had no answer for under the rim, something uncharacteristic of the Jaspers' physical nature. Elsewhere on the Ram bench, Perris Hicks stepped up to post a career-high 15 points and a second consecutive double-figure scoring game, doing so on a perfect shooting day in which he made all six of his field goal attempts, half of which came from three-point range.

3) Some bright spots for Manhattan:
The Jaspers, a team that commits fouls more than most due to their aggressive style, were whistled just ten times today in a game that featured just 23 total infractions from a regional-worthy crew of Pat Driscoll, Ed Corbett and Ron Groover. Despite 25 turnovers limiting Manhattan from imposing their will offensively, four players did manage to post double-figure scoring totals, led by Rich Williams' 12 points. Tom Capuano, Zane Waterman and Calvin Crawford all added 11 apiece, with Crawford supplementing his production with 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Seton Hall vs. Vanderbilt Photo Gallery

Photos from Seton Hall's 72-59 win over Vanderbilt in the NIT Season Tip-Off at Barclays Center on November 24, 2017:

(All photos by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

5 Thoughts: Seton Hall bounces back from Rhode Island loss with convincing win over Vandy

Desi Rodriguez carried Seton Hall on a night where Khadeen Carrington struggled and Angel Delgado battled, leading Pirates with 27 points in 72-59 win over Vanderbilt. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

BROOKLYN -- In case anyone needed any further evidence that Seton Hall has matured as a team and a program, Friday's showing against Vanderbilt proved to be Exhibit A.

The Pirates, still ranked 20th in the nation despite a bitter one-point loss to Rhode Island on Thanksgiving night, returned to Barclays Center in the consolation game of the NIT Season Tip-Off; and in a setting where the potential for a letdown coming off a demoralizing setback was higher than usual, responded like a veteran team should, limiting Vanderbilt to just six field goals after halftime in a 72-59 victory over the Commodores to improve to 5-1 on the year and erase some of the aftertaste from Thursday's defeat.

Next up in the heart of Seton Hall's non-conference schedule is a trip to Madison Square Garden Thursday night for the Under Armour Reunion, where they will face an undefeated Texas Tech team that received votes in last week's Associated Press Top 25 poll and are shaping up to be a contender in the Big 12 Conference under head coach Chris Beard. Until then, we fill in once again for our tag team partner Jason Guerette with five thoughts from Friday's proceedings in the home of the Brooklyn Nets:

1) Call me Ismael
Getting a nod to start for the first time this season because Kevin Willard felt his team needed a defensive spark in the opening minutes, Ismael Sanogo was his usual imposing presence, disrupting any and all flow that Vanderbilt tried to immerse themselves into. Sanogo only finished with four points, which is of no concern since his impact is not on the scoreboard, but his eight rebounds and four blocked shots were par for the course in terms of what the senior from Newark provides the Pirates.

"I just wanted to be the aggressor on defense and not let the other team run what they want," he imparted when asked about setting the tone for Seton Hall in the game's initial stages. "From what it looks like and the results of the game, it worked."

"Even when he's not supposed to be there, he's there helping you," Desi Rodriguez echoed of Sanogo and the weapon he becomes alongside Angel Delgado. "It kind of takes a weight off our shoulders, the guards and Angel, that's why we consider Ish the best defender in the country."

2) Dominant Desi
Rodriguez is no stranger to lighting up the nets when his team needs a jolt, and Friday night was one of those instances. With Khadeen Carrington struggling and only managing one point on the night, plus Delgado having to battle his way to a yeomanlike 15 points and eight rebounds, the onus to score was on the swingman from the Bronx, and he delivered to the tune of a season-high 27 points, just three markers shy of the career-best 30 he posted on the road against Marquette last January. Called an elite player twice already by his coach this season, the explanation that the media clamored for following last week's victories over Indiana and NJIT was finally afforded.

"He's just not a one-dimensional player, and it's kind of depending on who's guarding him," Willard assessed. "If a bigger guy's guarding him, then we'll go outside. If a smaller guy's guarding him, we'll go inside. He's got the skill set where I can take advantage of multiple positions on the court, and he's starting to learn how to really make plays off that."

"I was able to be aggressive and be dominant," Rodriguez elaborated. "The way Coach plays me through his offense, he trusts me with the ball in my hands a lot now and he knows I'm very aggressive inside. Whenever he calls a post-up play for me, I get aggressive with that, and even on the outside with the ball in my hands, I make smart plays. I try to make the smartest play I can."

3) De-Fense! De-Fense! De-Fense!
Willard made his team relive the nightmarish first half against Rhode Island Thursday by having the Pirates watch it again in Friday morning's film session, something Sanogo deemed a learning experience. The tactic worked as the game went on, particularly in the final stanza, when Seton Hall conceded just six field goals after the intermission and did not allow a three-pointer on a dozen Vanderbilt attempts. The Commodores had shot 48 percent from the floor and made five of their twelve shots from long distance in the first half, their proficiency with the deep ball being the biggest factor in taking a 32-31 halftime lead into the locker room. From the Pirates' perspective, not giving up 61 percent from the floor and 78 from beyond the arc as they did in Rhode Island's 54-point first-half bonanza was more in their wheelhouse.

4) Super Subs
In Thursday's loss, Seton Hall's bench did not offer much in the way of productivity, largely because the starters had been effective and able to produce without a hitch. In the second of two games from Barclays Center, it was the total opposite for the Pirates, who fed off their second unit even if the final statistics may conceal that fact.

Eron Gordon, now ensconced as the backup point guard until Jordan Walker returns from a torn ligament in his thumb, played a clean 11 minutes while dishing out four assists without a turnover, while Sandro Mamukelashvili drained a three-pointer and contributed several hustle plays in his time on the court. Even walk-on Shavar Reynolds got in the act, fading away in the right corner directly in front of the Seton Hall bench off a feed from Gordon to drain a triple at the horn, evoking a frenzied celebration.

"I thought the bench was tremendous," said Willard. "They gave us great energy. I thought Sandro, Eron Gordon, four assists, no turnovers -- Myles Cale was really good defensively. I just thought they gave us a nice little energy boost, and I thought they popped the ball and we got some easy buckets off our defense."

5) "It wasn't an oil painting..."
We'll use the famous quote from our friend Bobby Gonzalez to describe Friday's game, which may have lacked for aesthetics at points in the contest, but ultimately led to a Seton Hall win that got the Pirates back on track for the near future heading into a pivotal Madison Square Garden showdown with Texas Tech on Thursday. The Hall looked disjointed when Vanderbilt opened up a 32-27 lead with 4:27 remaining before halftime, but the defensive effort began to ramp up, and with that, so too did the offense, to the tune of a 17-2 run and an 11-minute scoring drought for the Commodores, which prompted a proud reflection from Willard.

"I loved our attitude," he proclaimed. "We woke up this morning with a great attitude that no matter what, we were gonna get a victory, and that was the mentality all day. To me, that's a huge step forward for us mentally, because I would have struggled in years past to get them rolling, and I didn't have to do much today besides tell them what I really wanted them to do."

Kevin Willard quote book: Vanderbilt

On Ismael Sanogo setting the tone defensively and starting over Michael Nzei:
"Mike's been playing great, but I just felt like that first unit needed a little bit more of a defensive spark. Mike covers Angel (Delgado) offensively, but I felt as the games were going on, I needed to cover him defensively, and Ish does the best job of that."

On recovering from Thursday's loss to Rhode Island:
"We were a little disappointed after how we played. We didn't play good last night, and I think it had a lot to do with how Rhode Island played, but we had a great film session this morning, we had a great walkthrough this morning. This team's motivated to keep getting better, so it wasn't hard."

On Desi Rodriguez:
"I have twelve plays for him, and depending on what he's doing, I can put him in an iso at the elbow, I can put him in the post, I can put him on the wing, I can put him in a pick-and-roll. He's just not a one-dimensional player, and it's kind of depending on who's guarding him. If a bigger guy's guarding him, then we'll go outside. If a smaller guy's guarding him, we'll go inside. He's got the skill set where I can take advantage of multiple positions on the court, and he's starting to learn how to really make plays off that."

On what Seton Hall's bench gave him in the second half:
"I thought the bench was tremendous. They gave us great energy. I thought Sandro (Mamukelashvili), Eron Gordon, four assists, no turnovers -- Myles Cale was really good defensively. I just thought they gave us a nice little energy boost, and I thought they popped the ball and we got some easy buckets off our defense."

On importance of winning without major contributions from Khadeen Carrington:
"That's -- as we get better defensively, and we've taken some strides -- the second half last night and obviously today, the fact that you can have Khadeen Carrington score one point and win a game by double digits shows you that there's great depth on this team and there's someone there to pick him up. I told Khadeen after the game I thought it was the first time he played like a true point guard, because he set the tone defensively. He picked up full court, he dogged the ball, he changed our mindset defensively, I thought, and to me, that's what a great point guard does. He changes the game in a way that no one else can, and I think the guys really fed off how he was working defensively. He just has to get used to having the amount of attention he's getting, but he's gonna get it. He's going through the same thing Isaiah (Whitehead) went through his sophomore year, the exact same thing. He's going through the same progressions, the same struggles. The only difference is he's playing a much tougher schedule, so he's getting it a little tougher."

On what he can take from Friday's game moving forward against Texas Tech and Louisville:
"I think these games are going to help us tremendously in January and February, and that was the goal of the schedule, to test us early. We're not -- Texas Tech is phenomenal. They're a lot like us, they're a senior team with a lot of good, young guys. Obviously, Louisville's Louisville. I watched Rutgers play the other night, I like Rutgers, I love the job Steve (Pikiell) is doing. VCU is playing tremendous, they're at a different pace than what they're used to, so we're going to have a lot of opportunities and it's good for us going forward."

On his main takeaway over Thursday and Friday:
"I loved our attitude. I loved the fact that we had a really, really tough loss and we didn't play well -- we had guys play well, and we woke up this morning with a great attitude that we -- no matter what, we were gonna get a victory, and that was the mentality all day. To me, that's a huge step forward for us mentally, because I would have struggled in years past to get them rolling, and I didn't have to do much today besides tell them what I really wanted them to do."

Friday, November 24, 2017

Battle of the Bronx Preview: Manhattan vs. Fordham

Zavier Turner, last year's Battle of the Bronx MVP, seeks a second consecutive recognition as Manhattan defends intra-borough bragging rights against Fordham. (Photo by Vincent Dusovic/Manhattan College Athletics)

A traditional accompaniment to Thanksgiving in the college basketball world is the glut of prestigious in-season tournaments, with high-profile events such as the Maui Invitational and Battle 4 Atlantis; joined this year by the one-time only Phil Knight Invitational, occupying the public's interest in between spells of food and family. Taking a perch on the schedule alongside the remnants of leftovers and desserts is this year's renewal of one of the oldest New York basketball rivalries, contested by a pair of teams hoping to right the ship after their own November tournament experiences did not go according to plan.

The 110th Battle of the Bronx takes place this Sunday, in a 2 p.m. matinee from historic Rose Hill Gymnasium, marking the second time in three years that the nation's oldest Division I venue has played host to the intra-borough tilt between Fordham and Manhattan, and also signifying the return to true home-and-home competition after the 2014 edition of the series was played at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

Fordham arrive home with a 1-3 record to their credit, with losses to Florida State and Tulane in the inaugural Jamaica Classic taking the Rams back under .500 following their first and only win of the season against LIU Brooklyn on November 13. Head coach Jeff Neubauer, now in his third season at the helm since replacing Tom Pecora in 2015, has made up for the loss of Javontae Hawkins by getting increased production from senior wing Will Tavares, who leads the team in scoring with an average of just over 16 points per game. Prokop Slanina, a 6-foot-10 forward who can drain an outside shot just as well as he can get rebounds inside, has become a lethal weapon of sorts for the Rams in the interior, and Neubauer's latest overseas diamond in the rough has come to life in the form of Montenegro's Ivan Raut, who connected on seven three-pointers and 21 points against LIU to provide a glimpse of what he can do on the perimeter in Fordham's system, which places a premium on perimeter shooting and value for the basketball. In the backcourt, point guard Joseph Chartouny has continued to be his usual stat-stuffing self, while sophomore newcomer Tre Evans is still getting himself acclimated to his role in the offense.

Across the court, Manhattan returns from the Gulf Coast Showcase at 2-3 on the young season, their three defeats in Florida bringing the Jaspers back to reality, in a sense, after beginning the year with victories on their home floor against St. Francis Brooklyn and Harvard. Rich Williams, who missed the entire season last year due to a torn meniscus, has not missed a beat since reclaiming his place in the starting lineup, leading Manhattan with 18 points and just over five rebounds per game, while fellow senior Calvin Crawford has ramped up his play in his first season as a starter to average a double-figure point total through five contests as well. Head coach Steve Masiello has mixed and matched his reemerging depth through the first two weeks of the year, opting to start Aaron Walker and junior college transfer Pauly Paulicap over the likes of Zane Waterman and Zavier Turner; the latter of whom earned Doc Johnson Most Valuable Player honors in last season's victory over Fordham, creating an unorthodox look that has caught opponents off guard as the Jaspers have been able to set up their vaunted pressure defense much easier than they did in the past two seasons, where lack of depth compromised their efforts more often than not.

Without any further ado, we will now prepare you in depth for Sunday's latest installment of the clash for Bronx bragging rights, refreshing the recent episodes of the crosstown rivalry, along with a tale of the tape for both schools as the latest chapter between the Rams and Jaspers is written:

GAME AND MEDIA INFORMATION
Date: Sunday, November 26, 2017
Site: Rose Hill Gymnasium; Bronx, NY
Time: 2 p.m.
Video: Atlantic 10 Digital Network (Mike Watts, Kenny Ducey)
Radio: WFUV 90.7 FM and wfuv.org (Matt Murphy, Tom Scibelli)

All-Time Series: Manhattan leads, 57-52 (Jaspers have won four of last six meetings)

LAST 5 MEETINGS
December 10, 2016 at Manhattan: Manhattan 60, Fordham 53
Manhattan took their home floor at Draddy Gymnasium with a four-game losing streak, and ended it by going back to basics in the form of a staunch defensive lockdown in which they held the Rams to just 32 percent shooting from the floor. The meager shooting for Fordham was magnified by managing a mere eight field goals over the final 29 minutes of the game after getting out to a 9-for-15 start. Zavier Turner's 15 points, all scored during the first half, helped set the tone for a throwback victory in front of a hungry home crowd.

"We know what this means for our administration. That's important to us, so we want to make sure we put our best brand out when these days happen." - Steve Masiello on defeating Fordham and the significance of a Battle of the Bronx victory

November 28, 2015 at Fordham: Fordham 87, Manhattan 64
The Rams would have the last laugh on this day, exploiting an undermanned Manhattan roster that was limited to seven scholarship players after a rash of injuries ravaged the Jaspers to begin the 2015-16 campaign. Mandell Thomas, in his first full season at point guard, earned Mike Cohen Most Valuable Player honors with a game-high 26 points, while Ryan Rhoomes had his way in the paint en route to a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double.

"In the second half, we simply played half court man-to-man, and our defense was much better." - Jeff Neubauer on what won the game for Fordham

December 22, 2014 at Barclays Center: Manhattan 71, Fordham 57
Fordham played the role of the aggressor to start this game before Masiello called for more defensive pressure, turning a 16-4 Rams lead into a 48-17 run that turned the game on its head, a stretch where Fordham's woes were compounded by a 12-for-25 effort at the foul line.

"We knew we could get a run on them if we got to our style and got to our bench. I thought we did that." - Masiello on Manhattan being able to win by imposing their will

November 26, 2013 at Manhattan: Fordham 79, Manhattan 75
Manhattan would reach the national stage four months later in a near-upset of Louisville in the NCAA Tournament, but on this night, Jon Severe made the Jaspers pay with 22 of his 30 points in the first half as Fordham looked headed for a convincing victory. The Jaspers would battle back to reclaim the lead, but the Rams turned the tide for good by scoring eight of the game's final ten points, capping a signature win on Travion Leonard's dunk in the final seconds.

"They beat us the last two years, so we wanted to come in here and just play our hardest and get a win. That's what happened." - Branden Frazier, who scored 21 points in Fordham's winning effort

November 29, 2012 at Fordham: Manhattan 65, Fordham 58
Fordham's home opener was spoiled by Michael Alvarado's tour de force in the final minutes. The Bronx native, now an assistant coach at his alma mater, stole a win in front of a near-capacity crowd, taking home Mike Cohen MVP recognition after forcing four Ram turnovers and being described as the difference in the outcome by then-Fordham head coach Tom Pecora.

TALE OF THE TAPE
Guards: Aaron Walker (6-0 So., 9.6 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.8 SPG, 42% FG, 71% FT, 46% 3-pt FG) vs. Joseph Chartouny (6-3 Jr., 9.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.8 APG, 3.5 SPG, 28% FG, 58% FT)
Walker has begun his second season in Riverdale as the de facto starting point guard, being trusted by Masiello to lead his offense early in the hope of expediting his maturation for the future. Described as one of the better players to come through the program in recent years, the former Cardozo standout will have his hands full with Chartouny, the Swiss Army knife who does a little bit of everything for the Rams. The Canadian floor general has fully recovered from a midseason injury scare that hampered his abilities at times last year, and should have the experience edge against Walker, who takes a step up in class.
Advantage: Fordham

Tom Capuano (5-11 Jr., 4.8 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 53% FG, 38% FT) vs. Tre Evans (6-2 So., 4.5 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 26% FG)
A battle of two warrior guards whose contributions exceed their stat lines is the second guard showdown, as Capuano; the middle linebacker of the Jaspers, matches wits with junior college import Evans, who is still searching for his groove. Expect each to make plays that will not show up in the box score and get their teammates involved. This matchup should come down to who has the bigger impact on the game without doing much on their own, something Capuano has excelled at over his first two years.
Advantage: Manhattan

Rich Williams (6-5 Sr., 18.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.4 APG, 55% FG, 82% FT, 52% 3-pt FG) vs. Will Tavares (6-6 Sr., 16.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 45% FG, 67% FT)
There are not enough words to describe, or even equate, the value of Williams in the Manhattan lineup, as the Jaspers are simply a better team with their heart and soul on the floor. The Brooklyn native's impact on both ends of the floor has been lauded by Masiello since the moment he arrived on campus, and for those who forgot just how much he meant to the program, his start to his final season has served notice of just who affects even the most minute of details both in and out of the huddle. For Tavares, a fellow senior who is in the midst of his own breakout season, Williams will be hard to handle, especially on the defensive end, which is an area where the Providence product has his work cut out for him.
Advantage: Manhattan

Forwards: Calvin Crawford (6-8 Sr., 10.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.6 APG, 41% FG, 77% FT, 42% 3-pt FG) vs. Ivan Raut (6-7 Fr., 9.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 44% FG, 71% FT, 44% 3-pt FG)
Crawford, as mentioned in the introduction, has blossomed in his first full season as a starter, becoming the Emmy Andujar-esque versatile forward that Manhattan has craved over the past two seasons as he has become a potent and effective wing man to Williams on the scoreboard. Raut has had a rough go of things since his 21-point breakout two weeks ago, but Manhattan's pressure defense leaves them susceptible to giving up the three-point shot at times, and if Raut is open, he will make the Jaspers pay. Still, the matchup is heavily tipped in Crawford's favor.
Advantage: Manhattan

Pauly Paulicap (6-8 So., 8.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.0 BPG, 58% FG, 57% FT) vs. Prokop Slanina (6-10 Jr., 10.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 2.0 SPG, 48% FG, 57% FT, 39% 3-pt FG)
Paulicap has acquitted himself well in his first major taste of Division I basketball, showing flashes of the early form exhibited by longtime Manhattan stalwart Rhamel Brown. The Long Island native does need to work on his penchant for getting into foul trouble, however, and will have an interesting matchup in the form of Slanina, who is Fordham's answer to Zane Waterman. The 6-foot-10 Czech has displayed a better pick-and-pop tendency to start the season, and his multi-dimensional offense can be an X-factor of sorts against Manhattan.
Advantage: Fordham

BENCHES
Manhattan possesses the edge here with Zavier Turner and Zane Waterman being the first two reserves to check in for Masiello, at least on paper. Both preseason all-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference honorees, the two have struggled to get accustomed to their new roles. Newcomers Patrick Strzala, Bud Mack and Ebube Ebube have played sparingly, but each sees their fair share of minutes to keep the trademark Manhattan depth consistent. For the Rams, the second unit has been a cause for concern for Neubauer, as no one outside of Perris Hicks has made their mark among the reserves. The lack of a spark plug, coupled with the Jaspers' experience and rotation, could be a problem that manifests itself early and often on the Fordham side.
Advantage: Manhattan

COACHING
Steve Masiello, for all the adversity he and his program has experienced over the past two seasons, remains a strong tactician and a strategist who will undoubtedly be able to devise the game plan necessary to defeat Fordham for the fifth time in seven seasons. Once a wide gulf in coaching acumen in this rivalry, the chasm has narrowed due to Neubauer's ability to change the oft-stagnant style of Rams basketball. While both coaches have scored wins over the other, the deciding factor in this matchup will be personnel and how to effectively utilize it, something Masiello has in his favor with a more experienced and deeper roster.
Advantage: Manhattan

PREDICTION
Ken Pomeroy has predicted a 66-62 Fordham win at the time of publication for this preview, which is in the likely neighborhood of what the final score should be given the styles of both teams. The Rams' seven-day layoff could prove dangerous against a Manhattan team coming off three games in as many days before a three-day hiatus, but the keys for this matchup are twofold: Outside shooting and foul trouble. In the former, the Jaspers have shot 37 percent as a team from beyond the arc and have yielded just 32 percent, a stark contrast to Fordham's 23 percent clip. As far as the latter is concerned, the edge in average personal fouls per game is a mere two infractions, with Manhattan committing 21 per contest as opposed to the 19 per game racked up by Fordham. If the game comes down to the wire as most think it will, this makes a difference, but so too does the Manhattan depth, which will be the difference in a second consecutive victory for the Jaspers over their Bronx brethren.

Manhattan 67, Fordham 61