Game #9-233: Stony Brook Seawolves at Manhattan JaspersJanuary 1, 2013 2:00 pm
BRONX, N.Y. - Sometimes when you're in a rut, you just need something small to make you smile.
After driving 12 hours back to New York between New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, I barely had time to stop to grab a bagel before heading up to Draddy Gym for a fairly interesting contest between struggling Manhattan and Stony Brook.
I didn't really have time to eat the bagel before getting to the front gate and seeing a giant "No Food and Drink Allowed" sign. I sat on the sidewalk in the 35-degree temperature and uncomfortably tried to eat quickly, but an uninvited guest decided to make himself welcome next to me. I struck up a conversation. "What's up, big guy?," I said. He crept closer.
With only a little piece left, I shared it with the affable Bronx squirrel. It was a good exchange, and I felt better about the rest of the day going forward.
I don't know how much Steve Masiello chats with the lovable rodents outside his office every day. Hopefully, plenty. They won't remind him how poorly this season has gone for him and his team this season.Last
year, Masiello - in his first season - brashly led Manhattan to the biggest turnaround (from six to 21 wins) in Division I. With most of the cast returning, including leading scorer George Beamon, the Jaspers were picked second in the MAAC preseason poll and many had them pegged as the team to beat.
But one of the great things about college basketball (and sports in general) is that potential doesn't do you much good when the season starts. And it doesn't keep you healthy. Masiello, trying to test his now contending squad, ratcheted up the non-conference schedule. But Beamon went down with an ankle injury and the Jaspers were blown out by Louisville and Harvard. Beamon returned in a win over Hofstra
, but played in only four games before going down again.
And so Masiello and Manhattan stood at just 3-8 when they welcomed a much healthier Stony Brook squad Tuesday afternoon, both on and off the court. Steve Pikiell has one of the best statistical defenses in the nation, and the Seawolves nearly knocked off both UConn and Seton Hall before falling late. Coupled with Beamon's injury and the Jaspers suffering mightily offensively (Manhattan had hit 60 just once in the seven games without Beamon, a win over hapless Siena), this seemed to portend to be a demanding two hours for Masiello and his team.
As I mentioned in my last Manhattan recap
, Masiello has been a little more subdued in the last couple of months, and that trend continued in this game. I tried very hard not to make a hangover joke as the game went six minutes without a field goal for either team (Anthony Mayo started and ended that streak) and Manhattan held a 8-6 lead with 7:15 left in the first half, despite not having a field goal of their own I nearly nine minutes.
Stony Brook finally ended the drought, although it was far from a flood, as they lead 21-19 at the half, what Masiello had to consider a decent spot to be in, although where the points were going to come from? Who knew? Probably not even him.
Adding to Masiello's troubles, though, was the sight of starting guard Michael Alvarado on a training table, leg elevated after turning his ankle early in the game. He would not return and instead head to the ER for x-rays immediately after the conclusion of the contest on crutches.
Coaches look like they know what they're doing much more when their team can actually put the ball in the basket, and for a fleeting moment, Masiello and the Jaspers put it all together. Mohamed Koita drilled a #superhoop, Rhamel Brown (an underrated player) got loose for an #omgdunx, RaShawn Stores followed with a #superhoop, and then Koita hit another. Time out Stony Brook, and Masiello - who actually sat down during some of that run - led 33-27 with 13:56 left in the game.
But it was only a mirage, which perhaps Masiello knew, especially against a defensive team like Stony Brook. Poor Shane Richards, Manhattan's designated shooter, ran around trying to get open, but was harassed into a 1-for-6 shooting night in 22 minutes. If you're going to score against the Seawolves, you're going to earn it.
The Jaspers would score only nine points in the final 10 minutes, and slowly Stony Brook chipped away. Anthony Jackson's superhoop with 3:30 left finally gave the Seawolves the lead, and the rest was inevitable, an ugly but beautiful victory Stony Brook specializes in these days.
Masiello checked on Alvarado, but didn't seem too distressed as he made his way back to the locker room, most of conference play still awaits.
The squirrel told him that's when the real season begins.
STONY BROOK 50, at MANHATTAN 44
STONY BROOK 9-4 (0-0) -- T. Brenton 2-5 2-3 6; D. Coley 2-7 3-4 7; A. Jackson 2-6 1-2 6; J. Warney 4-8 0-2 8; M. Rouse 0-5 2-2 2; R. Bracey 1-5 3-4 5; E. McAlister 0-3 0-0 0; C. Puriefoy 0-3 0-0 0; S. King 2-3 2-3 8; A. Mayo 3-4 2-2 8. Totals 16-49 15-22 50.
MANHATTAN 3-9 (1-1) -- E. Andujar 3-8 0-0 7; R. Stores 1-3 0-4 3; D. Kates 0-5 2-4 2; R. Brown 5-14 5-10 15; S. Richards 1-6 0-0 3; M. Koita 4-6 0-0 11; R. Colonette 1-2 1-2 3; M. Alvarado 0-0 0-0 0; R. McCoy 0-0 0-0 0; C. Jones 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-44 8-20 44.
Three-point goals: SB 3-15 (M. Rouse 0-1; E. McAlister 0-1; A. Jackson 1-5; D. Coley 0-2; R. Bracey 0-2; S. King 2-3; C. Puriefoy 0-1), MAN 6-18 (M. Koita 3-5; R. Colonette 0-1; E. Andujar 1-1; D. Kates 0-2; R. Stores 1-3; S. Richards 1-6); Rebounds: SB 29 (J. Warney 6), MAN 33 (E. Andujar 10); Assists: SB 9 (T. Brenton 4), MAN 9 (E. Andujar 3); Total Fouls -- SB 18, MAN 20; Fouled Out: SB-None; MAN-None.
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