The new freedom of movement rules might take some teams a little time to get used to. Manhattan, one of the most in-your-face defensive teams in the country, certainly needs some time. The Jaspers committed 34 personal fouls on Tuesday morning as they lost to Winthrop 94-81.
Winthrop also committed 34 fouls in an extremely physical game. In the first half the referees were calling every single arm bar and hand check. Good if you want to play offense, but it seemed to take the players on both teams by surprise. Manhattan ranked near last in free throw rate last season at 46.8, so it’s not surprising the Jaspers would struggle there, but Winthrop finished 70th nationally in that stat last season at 31.9. It just seems like the new rules might take a little getting used to.
When fouls weren’t being called, the Eagles looked like a team that can compete for the Big South title. Pat Kelsey’s team spaces the floor well, finds the open guy, and can knock down those shots. Winthrop shot 10-26 (39%) from deep in the game. And, considering they played 76 tough possessions against the Manhattan press, their 13 turnovers certainly weren’t a problem either.
Manhattan grabbed 44% of its misses in the loss thanks to a gang rebounding strategy that worked particularly well on long misses from threes that wouldn’t go down. It’s what the Jaspers will have to do on most nights considering there isn’t a ton of size on the roster. The big man rotation is basically three guys: Calvin Crawford, Ahmed Ismail, and Zane Waterman. All three big men fouled out of the game. Ismail is 7-foot-2, but rather raw and he fouled out after only 14 minutes. But Waterman and Crawford, who have both been with the program for three seasons now, shouldn’t be fouling out in nine and 21 minutes of action respectively.
The foul trouble forced Steve Masiello to play lineups that left Tyler Wilson, Zavier Turner along with either Thomas Capuano or Na’Quan Council (who had some strong moments) on the court. Turner led the Jaspers with 16 points and Capuano added 12. But a lack of size will certainly be a detriment defensively if the Jaspers are unable to get into key passing lanes or out onto the corners.
The big question is: When will Rich Williams return? More than his scoring the Jaspers miss Williams’ veteran leadership on defense and his ability to absorb key possessions. The 6-foot-5 senior might not have been that efficient last season, but he was the guy the Jaspers could count on in big situations.
Manhattan will stay in the Bronx for its next contest. The Jaspers—now 0-2 on the young season—take on Hofstra at Draddy Gymnasium on Friday night. Let’s see how they adapt.