Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tournament Men's Preview: Manhattan A Factor

Here's another in the series previewing the MAAC men's tournament.

No. 2 SEED MANHATTAN, Plays quarterfinal-round game Saturday, 6:30 p.m. vs. Thursday's Saint Peter's-Fairfield winner.

MANHATTAN'S RECORD: 15-5 in MAAC play, 22-7 overall.

WHAT MANHATTAN HAS: The requisite scorer in 6-4 senior swingman George Beamon and his 19.7 points. Beamon is a more-complete player than ever, also averaging 6.7 rebounds. And, a less-than-effective outside shooter when he began his college career, he is now a legitimate threat from long range, having made 44-of-124 from three-point range this season. Manhattan is more of an up-tempo team again this year, after relying on defense a year ago when Beamon missed most of the season. Although the Jaspers' 70.6 points allowed is only 190th nationally, it's because they don't slow down offensively, where they rank 36th in ppg. at 77.4. Teams only shoot 40.6 percent against Manhattan, 53rd-best nationally. And, many of those shots don't get to the basket. Senior forward Rhamel Brown is second nationally in blocks (3.8), and the team ranks seventh nationally in that category. Manhattan also has depth and the ability to match up with any opponent, with 10 players getting into the starting lineup at least three times this year.

WHAT MANHATTAN DOESN'T HAVE: Point guard Mike Alvarado has missed the last two games with an ankle injury but coach Steve Masiello says Alvarado could have played in the team's last game and will definitely be ready on Saturday. The Jaspers also commit a lot of fouls, only 10 teams nationally commit more, but that's somewhat negated by the team's depth. The team's 69.0 percent from the foul line is also a concern, and it's only the 290th-best nationally. Its 14.3 turnover-per-game average is also a little high.

COMMENTS: Picked to win the regular-season championship, in the preseason, Manhattan finished second, two games behind Iona. But, the Jaspers are peakig at the right time, having won their last two games, against Iona and Canisius, and six of the last seven. The only loss in that stretch came against, surprisingly, Siena when the Jaspers made only 18-of-42 free throw attemps. In a close game, Manhattan needs to shoot considerably better than that from the foul line. But, everything else appers to be in place for a strong showing by Manhattan in this event.

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