Three Thoughts: Manhattan 78, Binghamton 63

Manhattan and Steve Masiello almost went at Saturday night’s semifinal of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off as an exhibition game, rotating players in and out almost from the opening tip, and to be fair to him, the Jaspers were never really in any trouble, although they showed some sluggish periods in the 78-63 win, their first of the season.

Junior Shane Richards knocks down four three-pointers against Binghamton on Saturday
Junior Shane Richards knocks down four three-pointers, as part of his career-high 24 points, against Binghamton on Saturday.

Shane Richards had no such trouble, scoring a career-high 24 points, but the rest of the starting lineup scored only 25 combined. In all, it was tough to get too much of a read on the Jaspers, who were coming off two hard-fought games on the road at big (bigger?)-time opponents, and handled a young Binghamton team comfortably, even though there were periods that the coaching staff would surely like to see improved.

Meanwhile, for Binghamton, it’s pretty messy right now. Tommy Dempsey knew he had a massive rebuilding job on his hands, but now three years into it, he is 10-54, and it is hard at this stage to see where too many wins are going to come from this season, especially without Jordan Reed, who was named preseason All-America East, but did not start for the third straight game and didn’t score in just five minutes.

Here are my three thoughts:

Manhattan got a good look at its depth, but … –  Jermaine Lawrence remains out for the time being with a foot injury, so it’s been Ashton Pankey starting. He struggled against Florida State and UMass, and had a much better stat line Saturday (11 points on 5-of-6 shooting), but was limited to just 14 minutes. But Calvin Crawford and Carlton Allen both played significant minutes and did well, which makes for some tough decisions going forward for Steve Masiello. Masiello has more decisions at guard where Rich Williams drained a trio of three-pointers off the bench for 11 points. Masiello has been good at dividing up minutes and he’ll need to use that experience when he gets a full roster.

Binghamton is young, but who are they going to beat? –  I hope to have more on the Jordan Reed saga later this week, but the short version is that he and Dempsey had problems last year that resulted in him being suspended for a game and playing limited minutes in a few others. But he scored 33 and 30 in the last two regular season games as a sophomore, was seemingly back on board in the summer, and was picked to the All-America East preseason first team. Yet he did not start the last two games before Saturday (playing 23 minutes total in two games), even while Dempsey maintained he wasn’t being disciplined. Saturday, he played five minutes, did not score, and was the first player off the court after the game with a towel over his head. Dempsey had no comment afterward on the situation. Meanwhile, freshman Willie Rodriguez scored 23 points (previous career-high 8) for a team that has no seniors that play, and of the seven players that logged 10 minutes or more, four are freshmen and three are sophomores. So maybe Reed doesn’t fit into the overhaul anymore? We’ll see Sunday.

Manhattan junior Shane Richards finishes with the left hand on a layup in transition for one of his four two-point field goals.

Shane Richards may have a breakout year – Even with a target on his back, Richards managed 30 points combined in his first two games against Florida State and UMass. Binghamton chose not to give him much special attention and paid the price, as Richards finished with a career-high 24 points (and five assists), with four of his field goals coming inside the arc. In his first two seasons, 142 of Richards’ 161 field goals were three-pointers, and it’s something he knew he would have to improve coming into this season. “That was a big point of emphasis in the off-season,” Richards said. “I definitely needed to get more of an all-around game. I put in a lot of effort this summer to work on the pull-ups and some other tricks to help be be more dangerous as an overall player.” As always, there’s plenty of room for improvement at this point of the season. “The first two games, I did a terrible job of reading the defense. But the coaches and I watched film on reads and my reads, and we made some adjustments tonight.”

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