Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Manhatten Men Preview: Growing Pains

Here's another in the series previewing conference teams. Up now ...


2009-10 RECORD: 4-14 in MAAC play, 11-20 overall.

2010-11 PREDICITION: Picked to finish 9th by conference coaches in their preseason poll.

KEY LOSSES: 6-4 guard Rico Pickett (17.7 points), 6-4 guard Darryl Crawford (14.8 points), 6-2 guard Antoine Pearson (7.9 points), 6-6 forward Brandon Adams (7.0 points, 5.0 rebounds).

KEY RETURNEES: 6-6 senior forward Andrew Gabriel (4.8 points, 2.7 rebounds), 6-4 sophomore guard George Beamon (3.6 points, 1.9 rebounds), 6-4 sophomore guard Mohamed Kaito (3.9 points, 3.0 rebounds).

NOTES: No conference team lost more than the Jaspers, including its top four scorers and six of its top seven. Gabriel, mostly an inside role player for his first three seasons, is the only returnee who started more than four games last season...
So, it only stands to reason that no team has a bigger infusion of incoming talent than the Jaspers. Fans will need a scorecard to keep track of all the newcomers for the better part of the season. Overall there are three freshmen joining the program and four other players who previously played some level of college ball, either in junior college or at a four-year school, who will be eligible. Head coach Barry Rohrssen has a reputation as a terrific recruiter. The fruits of that, though, have yet to pay dividends at Manhattan, but the large incoming group is certainly intriguing. And, maybe, good enough to justify the coach's recruiting rep...
Manhattan finished ninth last year in the conference, but was one of the better ninth-place teams the conference has seen in many years. It lost six of its games by three points or less and 13 games by single figures...
Pickett, who led the conference in scoring last season after transferring from Alabama, left a year early to pursue professional opportunities. He and the team's second-leading scorer, graduated senior Darryl Crawford, were notorious trash talkers and not well liked by foes or friends. For Manhattan, the losses of those two might well be addition by subtraction in terms of overall team chemistry and certainly in team decorum...
The key newcomers have all played post high school, including 6-8, 240-pound forward Demitrius Jemison, a transfer from Alabama where he played three seasons. Jemison sat out last season with an injury and came to Manhattan in July, but he's eligible to play this season under NCAA rules that allow a graduate student who transfers to play right away if his former school doesn't offer the graduate-level program he enrolls in at his new school. Jemison started 30 games as an Alabama sophomore in the 2007-08 season (5.6 points, 5.3 rebounds), but saw his role diminish as a junior in 2008-09 (only two starts).
Other post-h.s. newcomers are 6-1 junior guard Kidani Brutus (8.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists at Oklahoma's Cal Abert State junior college last season), 6-7 junior forward Roberto Colonette (12.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks at ASA Institute in Brooklyn), and 6-6 junior forward Robert Martina (5.0 points, 3.0 rebounds at Miami Dade Junior College).
Between them and the four incoming freshmen, Rohrssen has some sorting out to do during the preseason.

HOW MANHATTAN WILL SUCCEED: Teams with so much transition rarely succeed at this level, which is why the coaches surely picked the Jaspers to repeat their ninth-place finish. The list of junior college transfers who have been significant contributors to MAAC programs is also extremely short. And, players transferring in from other schools usually bring considerable baggage along. All that said ... the transfers and the freshmen do bring a sense of hope with them. They can't be any worse than what was here previously, can they?
Hopefully, the egos coming in are considerably easier to deal with for Rohrssen than was Pickett's.
It should be interesting to see what pieces step up and how all the new pieces fit in. Returnee George Beamon had 13 points in a MAAC tournament game last season and looks capable of really emerging in the coming year. Again, though, his role could change depending on the newcomers.
The best of the freshmen might be 6-2 guard Mike Alvarado of All Hallows High School who plays point guard, a position the team needs to fill.
A successful season would be the be even more competitive than a year ago and to get back over the .500 record. And, there seems to be at least a chance to do that, depending on how quickly the new pieces fit in and step up.

PREDICTION: We'll agree with the coaches here. Probably another ninth-place finish, but no conference team has the potential to finish higher than predicted than the Jaspers if everything falls into place. Still, it's rare that a team with so many newcomers plays well, and the thought here is that this team will have chemistry issues for much of the season.

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