Thursday, March 10, 2011

Manhattan Opts To Fire Barry Rohrssen

As expected, and predicted by the New York Daily News more than a week ago, Manhtattan men's basketball coach Barry Rohrssen was relieved of his duties with the Jaspers on Wednesday, according to an announcement made by school officials.

Rohrssen's team finished 6-24 overall and 3-15 in MAAC play during its just-concluded 2010-11 season and had its season ended with a 68-66 loss to Siena in overtime in the MAAC tournament's play-in round this past Friday night.

Rohrssen's five-year record at the school was 58-95 overall and 33-64 in MAAC play. He had just one winning season, a 16-14 finish, in 2008-09.

There was speculation last summer that Rohrssen would leave the program to become an assistant coach at St. John's, but he opted to stay at Manhattan believing a strong group of incoming players would turn the program around.

Instead, his team fell victim to injuries and other circumstances.

The Jaspers lost 6-7 JUCO import Roberto Colonette, the Region XV Player of the Year and someone who would have helped bolster Manhattan's front line, to a torn Achilles injury just before the start of the season.

Another expected incoming contributor, 6-6 forward and Norwegian import Torgrim Sommerfeldt, who came in with a reputation as a pure scorer, never made it on the floor this season as he was slow to recover from knee surgery.

Sophomore guard Mohamed Koita wasn't healthy enough to play until January after undergoing both knee and wrist surgeries in the off season and Alabama transfer Demetrius Jemison was prohibited from playing until late December when the NCAA denied the school a waiver to play the full season.

Jemison's eligibility is over, but Koita, Sommerfeldt and Colonette are all expected to be healthy for next season. Plus, Rohrssen, who has a reputation as a strong recruiter, also brought in some of the best young talent in the conference including current sophomore swingman George Beamon, the MAAC's third-leading scorer this season; and freshmen 6-7 forward Rahmel Brown and point guard Mike Alvarado, both starters and strong contributors in their first season.

Clearly Rohrssen's successor will step into a situation with a strong foundation and have the ability to turn the program around quickly.

Rohrssen also has a well-deserved reputation as one of the conference's most-liked coaches, and your humble hoopscribe, who has gotten to know Rohrssen a little better this past season, can attest to that personally. Unlike his predecessor, Bobby Gonzalez, who was universally despised, your hoopscribe has yet to encounter anyone who doesn't speak positively about Rohrssen.

Sources indicated that school athletic director Bob Byrnes was in favor of letting Rohrssen return for another year, but that the ultimate decision to change coaches came from higher up in the school's administration.

"Barry is a true gentleman who had represented Manhattan College very well," said Byrnes, in a press release issued by the school. "As we make a difficult decision to move the program forward, we remain committed to the academic and personal as well as the athletic development of our student athletes. We wish Barry well and thank him for his service."

Rohrssen was hired in April 2006 after a successful seven-year hitch as the top assistant and recruiter at Pittsburgh, where he lured such heralded New York hoop talent as Keith Benjamin, Carl Krasuer and Chris Taft to the Steel City.

When asked about his status after the Jaspers loss to Siena, Rohrssen said only, "None of this is about me," and refused further comment.

Rohrssen has one year remaining on his contract, which will be honored financially according to school officials.

Chances are that he will not remain unemployed for long, and there were rumors at the MAAC tournament that the opportunity to move west to join the staff of former Pitt coach Ben Howland at UCLA might be a possibility.

No comments: