Another installment in the series looking at conference teams for the upcoming men's MAAC tournament.
Up now, Manhattan.
No 9 MANHATTAN (4-14 in MAAC play, 10-19 overall)
SEASON ANALYSIS: The addition of guard Rico Pickett, a transfer who began his career at Alabama, provided much-needed offense. But, it wasn't anywhere near as much. Darryl Crawford, surprisingly omitted from post-season honors, also had a very good senior season.
That was enough to earn regular-season wins over No. 3 seed Iona and No. 4 Saint Peter's. And, there wasn't enough to avoid being the only conference victim of Marist during league play.
Also, the Jaspers struggled late. After a 2-3 start to MAAC play, it only managed two more wins over its final 11 contests.
HOW MANHATTAN CAN WIN THE MAAC TOURNAMENT: It would need offensive explosions by Pickett and Crawford and for at least a third option to somehow emerge on the offensive end. It would also benefit if its inside players, who have had their moments (albeit not many of those), could step up consistently. The Jaspers, though, are rarely out of games. They played a controlled style in hopes of keeping games close and, then, hoping it can do enough near the end.
WHY MANHATTAN WON'T WIN THE MAAC TOURNAMENT: Just not enough firepower. Actually, just not enough of just about everything. As talented as Pickett and Crawford might be ... they're both perimeter players. And, without a third option, opponents pretty much can concentrate on containing those two. Its rebounding and interior defense have also been such that it doesn't look like championship caliber.
PREDICTION: A competitive performance, but a loss to Loyola in the play-in round.
WHAT'S NEXT: It wasn't that long ago when Manhattan was dominating the MAAC (it had a 48-13 record over the 2003-04, 2004-05 seasons), but it looks like the climb to get back there will continue. Crawford is gone after this year as are forward Brandon Adams, the program's best inside player, and Antoine Pearson, an effective backcourt role player. Pickett is back and he'll be counted on to score even more next season. But, there isn't a lot else here in terms of proven talent. Someone (probably several someones) will need to step up their games and the program will also need an impact freshman or two if it hopes to escape lower portions of the league standings.