Game #9-242: Stony Brook Seawolves at Manhattan JaspersJanuary 1, 2013 2:00 pm
My eleven year-old Ian and I wake early enough on New Year's Day to walk the hundreds of steps at Manhattan College, up past the banners of priests in front of O'Malley library, up through the tight quadrangle, to reach Draddy Gymnasium. We find general admission seats under the basket in the second row. When on the opening possession Rhamel Brown leaps out of Manhattan's trademark zone and slams into Anthony Jackson as he drives to the basket, we feel close enough to swipe at the ensuing loose ball.
From these seats the game is loud, not from the noise of fans -- there aren't many due to Manhattan's student body still out on winter break -- but from the action itself: the bass drum of the floor under the weight of players; grunts; talk, including Stony Brook's Tommy Brenton saying under his breath to Manhattan's Donovan Kates, "You stay away"; and the noise of the benches, especially Manhattan's as Coach Steve Masiello tries to keep his charges whipped up.
The Jaspers play without their best scorer, George Beamon, who sits at the end of Masiello's bench in a walking boot. Manhattan's offense creates plenty of jump shots on the perimeter that would normally be taken by Beamon, but his stand-ins miss every one. Although Masiello rotates five new players into the game, after twelve minutes of action Manhattan has scored only seven points.
Improbably, seven points is enough for the Jaspers to lead, 7-6.
"These guys are scoring about as often as we do," Ian says, referring to his town youth team.
"Your team scores more than this," I say. "Way more."
We expect the Jaspers to struggle without Beamon, but Stony Brook's languid play makes no sense to us. At a timeout we check the RPI website on my phone to confirm that this is the Sea Wolf team we've been hearing about, the one that has climbed into the top eighty of the rankings (the place where mid-major teams become noteworthy and dangerous), the one which took Seton Hall to the last possession before losing by a point.
It is them. But they can do nothing against Manhattan's zone. What's more, they feature no lead player on offense. Their guards slash to the hoop and are swallowed up by Brown, Emmy Andujar, and freshman Ryan McCoy.
Both teams spurt before halftime. For the Sea Wolves, freshman Scott King -- in an audition for the lead role? -- enters the game and hits a three pointer from each corner, and Brenton completes a three-point play on an offensive rebound after taking a bruising hit from Brown. Manhattan scores from the foul line; Brown, after missing two, makes three in a row. The game lurches to half time with Stony Brook leading 21-19.
Ian and I go to the concession stand and buy a pretzel covered in cinnamon -- a huge disappointment. Realizing we may be missing out on a Bronx delicacy, we throw half the pretzel away.
The second half starts with Stony Brook's Jackson driving through Manhattan's zone for a reverse layup, the first successful offensive move we've seen all game. Manhattan's Andujar answers with a soft-touched floater on our end. Both teams are playing offense, and we hope the game has taken a turn for the better.
The Jaspers use the pick and roll to get Brown more shots. Playing in the paint, Brown appears undersized at 6-7. But he has soft hands, nimble feet, and the neck of a bull. He is quick off the floor for a rebound, and he creates space for himself by planting his forearm into the mid-sections of the larger Stony Brook defenders. After he scores twice with a long, powerful drop step, Stony Brook's defense sags around him. This allows Mohamed Koita two open three-pointers, both of which he makes. Manhattan surges ahead, 33-27.
But the Jaspers can't sustain the momentum. At the under-8:00 timeout, with his players bivouacked around him on folding chairs, Masiello pounds his clipboard. Both teams are shooting less than 35%. Both teams have committed 15 turnovers. Clipboard pounding seems useless at this point. The game is what it is: a sleepwalk.
Stony Brook comes back; a three-pointer by Jackson gives them one-point lead. Manhattan misses five consecutive foul shots, three by RaShawn Stores after he is fouled beyond the arc and two by Brown whose legs are tiring. Jameel Warney misses two foul shots for the Sea Wolves. The game is ending as it started, with no shotmaking.
In the last minutes, Ian and I wonder who to watch for the Sea Wolves. Who will make the key offensive plays down the stretch? The scoreboard shows that no Sea Wolf on the floor has scored more than six points. How can this be? For Manhattan, it is obvious who to watch: Beamon. Sitting on the bench in his cast, his slight figure nevertheless commands attention. Attention to the "if only."
It turns out an offensive rebound from Brenton and a layup from Dave Coley provide enough firepower for Stony Brook to keep control of the game and win 50-44.
We leave Draddy and head for the staircases. Ian notes that going down is tough on the knees. The older Manhattan fans, taking the stairs more carefully, say to each other that that was some ugly ball. In the car I look at Ian in the rear view mirror as we ride north on the Hutchinson River Parkway. His head rolls side to side as he sleeps in the back seat.
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.