January 7, 2008 1:28 pm ET by Kyle Whelliston
Manhattan at Marist (Metro Atlantic)
McCann Recreation Center - Poughkeepsie, NY
7:30 PM EST
It could be argued that these schools are the two from the MAAC that have received the most national attention in recent years -- Manhattan for its NCAA first-round victory over Florida in 2004 (which remains the conference's only non-play-in win this century). The Red Foxes haven't found their way to the NCAA Tournament since 1987, the year many current Marist students were born, but that's okay. Led by New York non-sticker Jared Jordan and current Lithuanian league pro (like the Knicks couldn't use him), they carried the conference banner into the NIT as regular season champions in 2007 and won by three at Oklahoma State.
Truth is, we're making that argument so we can aim the G!O!T!N! virtual cameras at these two teams and chat them up, and because Ronnie Weintraub is right, there's always a big story at Manhattan College. Things are very different in both competing schools, especially in Jasperland (7-6, 1-2) -- second-year coach Barry Rohrssen has nary a senior on his roster right now, and only two juniors. We'll leave the "green" pun to the beat writers, but there are some nice players who could have impacts on the league race in future years. We especially liked 6-4 freshman Rashad Green on our recent visit there -- still a little raw, but he has a nice soft finish to his plays. But the star of the future is most likely fellow frosh Chris Smith, a 6-3 Seton Hall transfer who's just now getting in the flow of the Jaspers offense after three eligible games. In a 10-point loss to Niagara on Saturday, Green went 9-for-15 from the floor and scored 21.
Marist (8-6, 2-0) still has some holdovers from the MAAC champs, and are led by 6-5 senior guard Louie McCroskey, who's leading the team with 13.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg. But coming up for the Foxes is a hott frosh too. Jay Gavin, a 6-3 Maryland native, has scored in double figures eight times in his first 14 games. He's coming off a career-high 21-point performance of his own, a Friday night special against Rider in which Marist prevailed over the "Thompson Twins," 81-80. So tonight, it's a freshman fiiiiiite! In the MAAAAAC!
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