Rhamel Brown is a big man in the middle for Manhattan. In just 19 minutes on Saturday he was the difference as the Jaspers handled Adelphi, 74-68, in Steve Masiello’s unofficial coaching debut.
Adelphi is giving teams around New York City fits. The Panthers lost a close game to Long Island on Friday, 74-66, and then came to the Bronx and gave the Jaspers everything they could handle for 40 minutes.
Manhattan pulled out the win even though it shot only 33.9% from the floor thanks to an excellent defensive effort. Adelphi only shot 31.7% from the field. Part of that was Brown’s effort inside. He started the game and used his athleticism and length to block 10 shots. That was part of an interior effort that held Adelphi to just 29.7% (11-37) shooting on two-point attempts.
“It’s all because of my teammates,” Brown said. “If somebody didn’t have my back when I went for the block, they could just dish it off for the easy bucket.”
Often Brown picked his teammates up. When guards got beat, there was the big man to erase mistakes. The Jaspers are obviously still learning Masiello’s pressing schemes and sometimes they broke down and it was Brown’s job to defend the fast breaks.
“I told our guards they need to take him to dinner,” Masiello said. “They were going by our guards and he saved them.”
Brown also helped out on offense, while he shot 2-6 from the free throw line, he was 4-6 from the field, including a big dunk in the second half. He also grabbed six rebounds. Keeping the blocks inbounds helped ignite fast breaks as well.
“We’re just focusing on not allowing other teams to score and playing hard defense,” Brown said. “Just doing whatever it does to win. I think getting out on the break is the ideal goal, but solid defense is what starts it off.”
The defense was strong, but it was Manhattan’s ability to get to the free throw line that kept the game out of reach. The Jaspers shot 31-46 from the line, as Michael Alvardo also struggled from the charity strip (1-7), but George Beamon went there 13 times, converted 12, and managed to score 24 points in 28 minutes on the court.
The solid defensive effort is going to have to be a hallmark of the Jaspers this season if they want to be competitive. Another key will be the contributions from the entire roster. Nine players played double-digit minutes on Saturday.
There are still a lot of lessons left to learn and a lot of work left to do, but with pieces like Brown, Beamon and Emmy Andujar (nine rebounds, eight points, five assists in 33 minutes) the future looks good for the Jaspers.