The holiday season has not started nicely for the Manhattan Jaspers. Manhattan (2-5, 0-1 MAAC) has now lost five games in a row after a 2-0 start, with the latest loss coming from Rider (5-3, 1-1 MAAC) by a score of 88-59.
Manhattan simply did not show up to play basketball on Thursday night. The Jaspers appeared to be out of the game early, trailing 20-9. The Jaspers got themselves right back into the game and even took a 25-24 lead with a 16-4 run in the first half. Rider then blew the game back open to take a 45-29 halftime lead.
In the second half, Manhattan got off to another slow start and a three-pointer by Justin Robinson gave Rider a 60-32 lead. Just as in the first half, Manhattan made a run to get itself back in the game. A 15-1 run cut the Rider lead to 61-47 with 12:10 left.
After a timeout, Manhattan came out with no intensity and fell way behind and had no chance of coming back.
Manhattan lost this game mainly due to poor coaching. Every time Manhattan came close, the coaching staff made an empty-headed move. Head Coach Barry Rohrssen made poor substitutions and a bonehead defensive change.
Rohrssen played Nick Walsh for 24 minutes and limited Kidani Brutus to 18 minutes. Brutus, who had averaged 11 points per game in the Old Spice Classic, helps the offense flow and gives the Jaspers another fairly strong scoring threat.
Meanwhile, Walsh, despite being one of two seniors on the roster, should not be getting so much playing time. Walsh hurts the Jaspers on both offense and defense. Walsh cannot handle the ball, be a scoring threat or play strong defense. With Walsh on the floor, the game slows down. When the game slows down, Manhattan struggles to score. Also, it does not seem like such a good idea to slow down the game by putting in Walsh when you are trying to come back from down double digits late in the second half.
If the Jaspers are going to win games, Rohrssen needs to have a better understanding of who should be on the court.
The other poor coaching move was switching Manhattan from a 1-3-1 defense into a 2-3 zone. Rohrssen made the same mistake against Wisconsin and Texas A&M and it hurt the Jaspers greatly. He seemed to have realized his mistake by playing with a 1-3-1 all game against Georgia.
During the few days off, Rohrssen must have forgotten that teams can score at will against his 2-3 zone.
Whenever Manhattan would switch into a 1-3-1 zone, Rider had trouble scoring. Manhattan would force turnovers and get baskets in transition. If Manhattan had played this way for 40 minutes, the Jaspers would have been at least within single digits of Rider by the time the final buzzer sounded.
When Rohrssen would switch to a 2-3 defense, Rider would score easily. There were open lanes for drivers, one-on-one opportunities right under the basket and open looks from three-point range.
However, coaching was not the only thing that hurt Manhattan. As I said before, the Jaspers did not show up to play on Thursday night.
Mike Alvarado played what was easily his worst game, scoring only nine points on 2-for-13 shooting. Alvarado did manage to get to the line and make five of his six free throws.
Also, all of the Jaspers committed dumb fouls, especially Andrew Gabriel. Twice, Gabriel committed weak reaching fouls on dunks, turning what would normally be energizing throw-downs into easy energizing three-point plays.
The only true bright spot of Thursday's game was Robert Martina's performance. The junior from Miami Dade turned what was definitely his best performance this season. In 21 minutes Martina scored 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting and grabbed four rebounds.
Sophomore George Beamon also had a fairly strong game with 16 points. Beamon and Martina were backed up by Rhamel Brown, who, despite committing a pair of dumb fouls, had eight points and eight rebounds.
Rider was led by Brandon Penn's 26 points and nine rebounds. Penn shot 8-for-13 from the field and 5-for-8 from three-point range.
Rider had four other players score in double digits. Mike Ringgold 14 points, Novar Gadson had 13 points and Justin Robinson and Anthony Myles each scored 11 points.
As a team, Rider shot 61.1 percent from the field and had 23 assists on 33 field goals.