It was definitely not a good sign that Manhattan lost to the Concordia Clippers. Nor was it a good sign that the Jaspers blew a five-point lead late in the game in their one and only exhibition game before the regular season.
However, it seemed clear that Barry Rohrssen was not so much coaching to win the game, but to see how his players play with one another and get a feel for how to coach this team once the regular season is underway. An 82-80 loss to a Division-II school is never a good sign, but there were some positives that could be drawn from the loss.
First, the "up-recruits" look like they will actually be "up-recruits." Despite being a little bit raw and inexperienced, the Manhattan newcomers played fairly well against Concordia. A few of the new recruits did not play in the exhibition games, but the ones who did appeared to be very helpful to the Manhattan squad.
Freshman Mike Alvarado, despite being in his first year of collegiate play, looks as though he will be able to be Manhattan's main point guard. Alvarado had 15 points against Concordia and shot 7-for-8 on free throws. Alvarado only had two assists, but he deserved more than that. Alvarado set up some nice plays that were not finished, and he also kept the ball moving on offense.
Alvarado also managed to force a few turnovers with aggressive defense. Despite being a freshman, Alvarado looked very composed on the court.
Juniors Robert Martina and Kidani Brutus both had solid games. Brutus scored 15 points 4-for-6 shooting, burying two three-pointers. Martina only played 13 minutes, but he looked good during the time that he was in. Just as advertised, Martina runs the floor well and is solid on both offense and defense.
Freshman forward Rhamel Brown looked okay, but there is certainly a lot more for him to learn. Brown looked lost at a couple of points on offense, and simply forgot to box out on a missed free throw, giving the Clippers an offensive rebound. However, Brown was still able to grab six rebounds while putting up seven points in 21 minutes.
Second, George Beamon has talent. However, the sophomore guard is also selfish with the ball. Beamon did not look eager to pass the ball at any point during the game. Beamon was red hot in the first half, scoring 15 points, but he slumped a little in the second half and finished 6-for-17 from the field.
Beamon showed how he was able to score 35 points per game as a senior in high school, but he will be no help to Manhattan if he stays selfish. Beamon also showed a little bit of a negative attitude at a few points during the game, getting angry at both himself and his teammates.
Lastly, the big men that struggled last season could make some contributions this season. Even though senior forward Andrew Gabriel was playing against a D-II school, his fundamentals looked a lot better. Gabriel showed off his improved jump shot during a scrimmage last weekend, but did not do much scoring on Tuesday night. However, he was fouling less, which was one of his weak points in earlier seasons.
Djibril Coulibaly was generally still the same Djibril Coulibaly. He let a few balls go through his hands and made some bonehead plays, but he grabbed seven rebounds and knocked in a few nice tip-ins.
It is still too early to make any sure predictions about Manhattan's upcoming season, but there is certainly no reason to give up on the Jaspers just yet.
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