Saturday, Nov. 20, 2:00 PM, at Draddy Gymnasium, Bronx, NY
It has been a couple of years since the Manhattan Jaspers started a season 3-0. The Jaspers will have a chance to start 3-0 for the second time since Barry Rohssen has been the Manhattan head coach, hosting the Long Island Blackbirds on Saturday afternoon.
The Jaspers (2-0) defeated the Penn Quakers 59-54 in their last game, using a 17-0 run in the final minutes to go ahead.
Long Island (2-0), which was picked to finish in third place in the Northeast Conference preseason coaches' poll. The Blackbirds defeated Norfolk State last week in their season opener, and then dominated Texas State with a 91-67 win to start a four game road trip. The Blackbirds have now won five of their last six regular season games.
Despite Manhattan only winning its first two games by five points each compared to Long Island's 23.5 average margin of victory through its first two games, these two teams match up well and this match up could result in a close, interesting game.
Before some analysis of the Jaspers and the Blackbirds, here is a little bit of history.
Manhattan is 12-6 in the all-time series against Long Island. The Jaspers have won the last four meetings against Long Island, including 71-61 victory last season in Brooklyn.
Manhattan has not lost to Long Island since 1980.
Manhattan has won two out of three meetings against the Long Island Blackbirds when playing in Draddy Gymnasium.
Manhattan is 132-51 all-time against members of the Northeast Conference.
Keys For Long Island
Keep up the high scoring. Long Island has been able to put up points easily through the first two games, averaging 89 points per game. Manhattan showed its ability to play very good defense against Penn, but the Blackbirds should still stick to what was working before and try to get points on the board quickly.
Deny the Jaspers in the paint. Against Penn, the Jaspers scored nearly half of their points in the paint. The Jaspers have guards that can score off of drives, and a few big men in Rhamel Brown, Robert Martina, and Andrew Gabriel that can score in the post.
The Jaspers' jump shooting has not been awful this season, but it has not been anywhere near great. If the Blackbirds can force the Jaspers to take a lot of jump shots, Long Island will be in solid shape.
Keys For Manhattan
Lock down on defense. The Jaspers managed to hold Penn to no points in the final 7:45 of the second half on Wednesday night. Although Penn did miss on some opportunities to score, Manhattan's defense was outstanding down the stretch. If Manhattan can play defense like it did down the stretch in Wednesday's game for 40 minutes on Saturday, the Jaspers could give Long Island many troubles on offense.
Share the ball, limit turnovers. During Manhattan's 17-0 run against Penn, the Jaspers had three assists on five made field goals. Against NJIT, Manhattan had only four assists to 14 turnovers.
These turnovers were part of what allowed NJIT to keep itself in the game through the final buzzer. Against Penn, Manhattan only turned the ball over six times and upped its assist total to 11.The Jaspers have to take care of the ball the way they did against Penn.
Stay out of foul trouble. The Jaspers have done a solid job of not getting into foul trouble. The Jaspers are under-manned due to injuries and the ineligibility of Demetrius Jemison. With only six players that can really make a big impact on the hardwood, the Jaspers cannot afford to have players getting into foul trouble, or even worse fouling out.
Deciding Factor—Battle on the Backboards
Manhattan has been solid on the boards so far with 36 rebounds per game, but Long Island has been outstanding so far with 45.5 rebounds per game, standing at No. 23 in the country in rebounding. The Blackbirds have a bunch of guys that are averaging more than four rebounds per game, but Julian Boyd leads the team with 8.5 rebounds per game.
The only consistent rebounder for Manhattan is George Beamon. Beamon is averaging 10 rebounds per game to this point in the season. Aside from Beamon, Manhattan's main rebounders are all members of its backcourt. The Jaspers will need Andrew Gabriel, Rhamel Brown, and Robert Martina (and Djibril Coulibaly and Kevin Laue, if they get playing time) to battle strongly for rebounds. It would not be surprising to see the team with more rebounds be the winner at the end of the day.
Long Island Player to Watch For: Kyle Johnson
Senior guard Kyle Johnson has meant a lot to Long Island in his time with the program. Johnson has averaged double digit scoring in each year since he was a freshman. This season, Johnson is averaging 16 points per game. Johnson scored 22 points against Texas State and shot 4-for-5 from three-point range.
Manhattan Player to Watch For: George Beamon
Beamon looks to continue his coming out party on Saturday. The sophomore, who only averaged 3.6 points per game as a freshman, posted a double-double against NJIT with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and then followed that performance up with a career-high 21 points against Penn. Beamon also had nine rebounds against the Quakers.
My line: Long Island by 5
For more news on New York City basketball and the MAAC, follow Jesse Kramer on Twitter.