N.J.I.T. 58 Manhattan 70 Game Analysis
Dating back to Barry Rohrssen's first year at Manhattan, the Jaspers play an ineffective motion offense in the opening stanza.
Among other factors, the utilization of Andrew Gabriel in this offense is partially culpable for the unproductivity. Too often, Gabriel receives the ball on the perimeter, where he has absolutely no skill—he can't shoot, he can't dribble, he can't pass. In order to have any chance of being effective, Gabriel needs to be in the post, where he can turn and lay the ball in off the glass—something he did very efficiently today.
Laurence Jolicoeur looked decent in the post today, but, let's face it, he was guarded by a Highlander. Against teams with better big men—think Siena and Rider—Joli will be a non-factor with his back to the basket. Instead, if Rohrssen insists on running this motion offense, he should have Joli and Gabriel switch. Joli is a shooter and a better passer than Gabriel.
In reality, though, swapping Joli and Gabriel won't improve the motion offense. This style does not allow Manhattan to play to its strength, which is to have Darryl Crawford or Antoine Pearson—possibly Rico Pickett, but he didn't show us what he can do today—drive to the hoop.
In order for Manhattan to maximize the amount of points it puts on the board, the offense needs to revolve around Crawford and Pearson. Crawford's athleticism enables him to pervade traffic, while Pearson's quick crossover can make a great defender hit the deck.
Either one can take the ball into the lane and score off the drive or find an open teammate when the defense shifts. More than likely, Manhattan's bigs would flourish in this system because they would receive open layups. Also, the Jaspers have plenty of shooters who can knock down open threes, which would be abundant in this offense.
Manhattan ran its best offensive sets with four guards and either Gabriel or Joli in the game. While it will be risky to implement a four guard system against bigger teams, there will be certain matchups—Niagara, Saint Peter's, and Iona, among others—where it must be used. A four guard lineup enabled the Jaspers to run this afternoon and led to a much more productive second half.
Two more gripes about today's offensive performance: 1) Manhattan's inefficiency from the charity stripe, where the Jaspers shot 7-of-18, is simply inexcusable; 2) The Jaspers were careless with the ball today, turning it over 14 times against a weak N.J.I.T. defense.
Defensively, the numbers look pretty nice, but do not let them deceive you. N.J.I.T shot 31.7 percent from the floor and 18.8 percent from deep, but the dreadful percentages are more a result of the Highlanders' lack of skill than of the Jaspers' defensive prowess.
Rohrssen started the game with a man-to-man set, but the Jaspers surrendered a handful of layups and a few treys. Naturally, Rohrssen chose to shake up the defense.
Against N.J.I.T., it's fine to switch to a 2-3 zone in that situation. Let their ineffective shooters launch 23 footers instead of letting their center draw fouls in the post. However, Rohrssen will not be able to implement this defense against shooting teams, which make up the bulk of Manhattan's schedule. Of the 32 threes, at least 20 of them were uncontested. You think Siena, Niagara, or Rider will miss open threes?
The Jaspers only pressed a few times against a slower, less athletic Highlander team. Rohrssen's reasoning? Who knows.
It's always hard to evaluate players for the first time of a season against N.J.I.T., but Crawford looked really good. He has continued to improve his ability to score off the drive, which he did efficiently today. Nine rebounds, four assists, and 17 points on 8-17 shooting is a pretty solid statline for game one.
Gabriel still had his head in the clouds, but his defense was strong against N.J.I.T.'s 260 pound Ryan Regis. An 0-2 performance at the line implied that his foul shooting has not made any progress.
Pearson is so quick and has continued to build upper body muscle. The Jaspers really need him to bounce back from a disappointing 2008-09.
Turning the ball over four times and fouling out, Pickett had a rough debut. He's a legitimate player, though, and will be crucial to the Jaspers' success this season. Pickett displayed his athleticism and passing skills today, but the rim was small for the Alabama native.
Nick Walsh is a marksman from deep, but his defense is a liability against any opponent other than N.J.I.T.
Djibril Coulibaly logged more minutes this afternoon than he did all of last season. The 6'9" center seemed a bit uncoordinated as he chased down a deflected pass for a layup, but at least he can rebound.
Joli is the king of the offensive glass. All three of his rebounds came on the offensive end, and he contributed an emphatic tip-slam in the second half.
Once again, Patrick Bouli played solid defense but was primarily absent on offense.
Freshman George Beamon looked extremely nervous and it was difficult to grasp his style.
The one-armed Kevin Laue played three minutes near the end of the first half. He drew a foul but missed both free throws. Despite being at a disadvantage against his two-armed opponents, Laue looked comfortable and confident on the floor.
Today marked the inception of the "Jasper Jungle," the new student section at Draddy Gymnasium. Rowdy and loud, the students in attendance caused N.J.I.T. to miss seven foul shots—play along with it.
Photo from PrestoSports