Saturday, Feb. 26, 7:30 PM at Draddy Gymnasium, Bronx, NY
Manhattan (10-17, 4-12 MAAC) will play its final home game of the season on Friday night against Niagara (16-13, 8-8) as the second game of a doubleheader with the Lady Jaspers.
The Jaspers have a class of five seniors. These seniors have spent all four of their years at Manhattan College and are loved by the fans, despite not being able to bring success to Riverdale.
- Darryl Crawford has turned into the best of this class. Crawford showed clear potential in his freshman year, along with a few of the other seniors, and he was the only one that developed into a great player. Crawford has emerged as one of the greatest Jaspers of all-time and is No. 8 all-time in Manhattan scoring. Crawford is currently 79 points away from moving to No. 7.
- Antoine Pearson appeared to have the best potential as a freshman. Pearson had a sweet stroke from beyond the arc and a sick crossover that put some of the other MAAC guards on their backsides. Pearson has remained a solid player, but has not fully blossomed. His best year was as a freshman when he averaged 12.2 points per game. Despite having a relativley down year as a senior, Pearson still posted a career-high against William & Mary back in November with 24 points.
- Patrick Bouli has always been a great defender. Bouli does not add too much to the offense except for an occasional three-pointer, but he has managed to shut down some of the better guards in the MAAC.
- Brandon Adams has become Manhattan's best post threat in the second half of the season. Adams posted a career-high with 18 points last Saturday against Towson.
- Finally, there is Victor Jackson. Jackson is listed at 5'8", although he appears a couple of inches shorter, and has played 54 minutes in his entire career. He has scored three points in his career, which came on a three-pointer in his freshman year at Siena. Jackson is always spirited on the bench and brings a new life to the team. Also, I have never seen him miss a layup in warmups. Jackson will definitely be missed on the bench next season.
Now, on to Friday's game.
Even though Manhattan will play Loyola (MD) in the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game in the first round of the MAAC Tournament, it would still be nice for the Jaspers to finish in eighth place. The only way to guarantee eighth place for the Jaspers is to win their final two games.
Niagara might finally be finding themselves, although it is a little late, with three straight wins. This streak includes wins over Siena and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Niagara is currently in sixth place and the best possible finish for the Purple Eagles would be fifth place.
Keys for Niagara
Take and Make the Three—Manhattan has improved its three-point defense, but there are still some holes. Niagara is not outstanding from beyond the arc, but Tyrone Lewis, Demetrius Williamson, Rob Garrison, and Austin Cooley are all solid three-point shooters.
Lewis is by far the best three-point shooter and can even hit contested three-pointers. The others should be able to hit some three-pointers if they are left open.
Rebounding—Niagara does not have a true big man this year that will be able to dominate the glass. However, Bilal Benn averages 9.9 rebounds per game, despite being 6'5". Niagara tends to lose when it gets outrebounded.
Guards Need to Take Care of the Ball—Manhattan's defense is pesky and can force a lot of turnovers. Manhattan's best defenders are its guards. Niagara has three guards that average more than two turnovers per game.
These guys need to take care of the ball.
Keys for Manhattan
Defend Tyrone Lewis on the Perimeter—Lewis is a dangerous three-point shooter. When he gets in a groove, it can be hard to get him out of it. Lewis has the ability to hit contested three-pointers.
Manhattan needs to do everything possible to minimize Lewis' scoring.
Rico and Darryl Do the Scoring—Rico Pickett and Darryl Crawford lead Manhattan in scoring. They are by far the most consistent scorers, too. Pickett and Crawford should do the main part of the scoring and also find Adams in the post.
Take Advantage on Niagara not Having a True Big Man. Manhattan has to take advantage of this by using its big men more and crashing the boards.
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