Season Snapshot: Manhattan

Manhattan has adjusted well to Steve Masiello’s system thus far. The team sits at a solid 3-3 after being upset by Columbia at home on Saturday, but there is hope for a solid record in MAAC play and a .500 record overall this season. First though George Beamon needs to be 100%, because this team obviously needs him all over the court.

The offense took a nosedive against Columbia without Beamon.

Beamon is the engine that makes this team go. His thigh contusion is a little worrisome because it appears to be worsening. Beamon was able to play through it in Colorado, but while dressed against Columbia, he sat the game out. Afterwards Masiello said that the decision was made because they want Beamon to be healthy for MAAC play, which begins on Friday, Dec. 2 at Rider.

Going into MAAC play it looks like the Jaspers are doing alright. The defense has held up well against teams like Brown and Columbia. Outside of Iona and Fairfield those teams are roughly comparable to squads that Manhattan will see during conference play. Still, there is definitely some room for improvement.

One particular place to watch on defense is forcing turnovers. The pressing scheme that Masiello brought to Manhattan from Rick Pitino at Louisville relies on forcing turnovers to be most effective. Thus far the Jaspers have forced turnovers on 21.8% of opponent possessions. The goal would be to get that up around 25%. To do that requires Manhattan to force about two more turnovers per game. If the Jaspers can do it, then the defense will improve even more.

On the offensive end of the court the Jaspers have relied on two things – assists and three-point shots. Beamon, Roberto Colonette and Michael Alvarado have been the main focal points of the offense surrounded by three-point shooters like Donovan Kates, Kidani Brutus and Liam McCabe-Moran. All three of those spacers need to shoot at a higher percentage moving forward if the offense wants to be effective. Also, I’d like to see Rhamel Brown continue to assert himself more on offense to give Manhattan another option in the paint in order to allow the Jaspers to work inside-out more often.

A little more about Alvarado. Here’s a classic example of why points per game never shows how well a player is playing. Alvarado’s points per game average has fallen to 9.2 PPG from 11.2 PPG last season, but it doesn’t mean he hasn’t improved his game offensively. For one, Alvarado’s minutes are down this season. Also, his field goal percentage, free throw percentage and three-point percentage are all up. He appears more confident driving to the basket as well. Even his assist rate, which was excellent as a freshman, has risen. He’s playing less, but he’s playing better.

All of this adds up to a Manhattan team that has a chance to surprise in the MAAC this season. If the Jaspers continue to improve defensively and the shooters get hot Manhattan could pull some unexpected upsets and finish as high as fourth in the conference, which would be quite the debut for Masiello.

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