Here's another in the series previewing the upcoming MAAC women's tournament.
No. 7 SEED MANHATTAN vs. No. 10 SEED SIENA, 11:30 a.m., Thursday.
TEAM RECORDS: Manhattan is 8-12 in MAAC play, 9-20 overall. Siena is 3-17 in league play and 8-21 overall. The teams split their regular-season meetings with Siena winning on Manhattan's court, 82-58, and Manhattan winning at Siena, 62-55.
WHAT MANHATTAN HAS: An always-hard to figure zone defense that often befuddles opponents. Offensively senior guard Monica Roeder is one of the league's all-time snipers. She recently surpassed the Jaspers' career record for made three-pointers and now has 247, the fifth-highest career total in conference history. Manhattan also has one of the league's better point guard in senior Allison Skrec, whose 6.1 assists per game is 20th-best nationally. And, junior forward Ashley Stec has made strides throughout the season and had a 14-point, 7-rebound effort in the team's final game.
WHAT SIENA HAS: A gambling zone defense that produces turnovers and ranks Siena the MAAC's top team for getting steals (10 per contest). Offensively the Saints' top point producer is do-everything junior guard Tehresa Coles who leads the Saints with 10.7 points per game, while also leading in rebounding (5.9) and leading the MAAC in steals (2.1 per contest). Siena also has a developing and effective post player in freshman Meghan Donohue, a member of the MAAC's all-Rookie team. Senior guard Kanika Cummings and junior forward Kelsey Booth are both capable of providing scoring punch.
WHAT MANHATTAN DOESN'T HAVE: A consistent "big." The Jaspers appeared to have the requisite inside presence with 6-2 freshman center Kayla Grimme, who was averaging 9.9 and 7.1 through nine games before a foot injury sidelined her for the season. Manhattan also lacks a second go-to offensive player to consistently complement Roeder, who averages 12.3 ppg. No other teammate averages in double figures.
WHAT SIENA DOESN'T HAVE: Consistent play. The Saints have scared some teams, but havent' been able to play well for a full 40 minutes in what has been the program's worst league record in its history. Siena not only ranks last in field goal percentage, and field goal percentage defense among MAAC teams, but rank in the bottom 21 nationally in those two categories.
HOW MANHATTAN CAN WIN: Gang rebound to overcome its interior deficiencies. The Jaspers get outrebounded by 10.5 per game, by far the worst difference in the MAAC (Rider is next, at a 3.6 rebound disadvantage). Only four teams nationally have a greater rebound disadvantage. The Jaspers also need other offensive players to step up and support Roder.
HOW SIENA CAN WIN: By finding the season-long elusive full 40 minutes (or, even 30) of efficient play. Outside shooters Cummings and Booth will need to make shots and Donohue has to somehow produce offense inside against a zone defense that will surely collapse to make things difficult for her. Siena will also need to get Manhattan to turn the ball over more than it usually does.
COMMENT: Manhattan appears to have enough to advance and get the inauspicious reward of a quarterfinal-round match with Marist. Siena, though, comes in with the confidence that it can beat Manhattan, one of three teams the Saints defeated in regular-season league play.