Barry Rohrssen continues to dig a deep hole for himself at Manhattan College. The man who is renowned as one of the best recruiters for the New York area continues to struggle as a head coach.
In his fifth year at Manhattan college, Rohrssen is 54-78 with a 28-46 record in the MAAC. Rohrssen has had only one winning season with Manhattan.
Many Manhattan fans wanted Rohrssen fired after a miserable 11-20 season in 2009-10. Manhattan chose to stick with Rohrssen for another season, and the fans stayed somewhat optimistic. So far, keeping Rohrssen around has certainly not paid off.
Rohrssen brought in some good talent for this season and has more good recruits set to start careers at Manhattan next season. However, even with this new talent, Rohrssen has been unable to win games.
After a promising 2-0 start in 2010-11, Manhattan has lost eight straight games. Although three of the losses were to top-tier teams in the Old Spice Classic, the rest have been against very mediocre teams that any truly good team would be able to beat.
Barry is a great guy. I have met him around the neighborhood, and he is nice, friendly and charismatic. It is no surprise to me that he is a good recruiter. However, he fails to be a good college basketball coach in terms of X's and O's.
As important as recruiting is at the mid-major level, a good coach still needs to be able to coach a team from the sidelines. Rohrssen has struggled to complete this criteria.
On multiple occasions this year, Rohrssen has shown his inability to coach during a game and his ability to make perplexing decisions, the most recent coming on Saturday against Binghamton.
Just as in previous games, Rohrssen continued to change the Jasper defense, even when it had been working. Manhattan started the game in a 2-3 zone, and Binghamton hit more than its share of three-pointers. Rohrssen switched Manhattan into a man-to-man defense.
In this defense, Manhattan limited Binghamton's shooting. In the second half, Rohrssen switched back into a 2-3 zone, and Binghamton hit a couple of big three-pointers en route to a 70-69 win.
Rohrssen's substitutions have also been problematic. Rohrssen tends to take out players who seem to be jelling and will put in much less talented players to replace them.
For example, on Saturday Rohrssen took out Demetrius Jemison after he had made back-to-back shots. Jemison came back in a few minutes later and seemed to be out of any groove he had been in before.
Worst of all, with Manhattan's thin bench, Rohrssen is sometimes inclined to bring in players who really cannot do anything productive on the court. Walk-on Liam McCabe-Moran came into the game on Saturday only to shoot 0-for-2 from the field and turn the ball over once. At least Rohrssen had the sense to remove him after a couple of minutes.
The worst move by Manhattan on Saturday, which was partially coaching and partially poor execution on the part of the Manhattan players, was on what should have been a simple in-bounds pass.
With Manhattan leading by one point with eight seconds remaining, the fans started murmuring about how even with two free throws by Manhattan, Binghamton would still have a chance to tie the game with a three-pointer.
No one was expecting what they were about to see.
Binghamton's defenders lined up around the foul line, and Manhattan's Mike Alvarado streaked to the sideline to receive an in-bounds pass. Whether Alvarado was pushed or he slipped, he fell to the ground and the pass went out of bounds off Manhattan.
Binghamton would then win the game on a lay-up off of a well-executed in-bounds pass.
Why pass the ball to the sideline? Even if Alvarado comes up with the pass, he would have had no room to move or even pivot. There was no one defending the in-bounder.
Rohrssen should have sent Alvarado right to the ball for an easy, simple pass. What ended up being a turnover that completely changed the game could have been fairly easily avoided.
Then on defense after the turnover, Rohrssen left Nick Walsh, who had been brought in for free throw shooting on the previous possession, on defense. Walsh is simply not a good defender. He was assigned to Jimmy Gray.
Binghamton ran a play for Gray to get an alley-oop lay-up. It turns out that the screen set for Gray was unnecessary, as Walsh was lost on defense once Gray made his cut to the basket. Manhattan might as well have been playing with four defenders.
Meanwhile, Gabriel, whose strongest point is defense, was sitting on the bench.
Rohrssen then opted to not use his final timeout, and a messy shot from halfcourt by George Beamon rimmed out.
Instances like this are what make Rohrssen's coaching ability very questionable. These instances are what ignite comments from fans such as, "Haven't you ever heard of defense, Barry?"
As I said before, not everything about Rohrssen is terrible. He is a good recruiter and a positive influence on his players. His recruiting ability could be enough to bring Manhattan back to the top half of the MAAC if he can get a good X's and O's coach on the bench.
As much as Rohrssen needs to learn how to coach the game, he also needs to find a way to do a better job of developing his players. With all of the talent that Rohrssen has had, all of his players have seemed to underachieve.
Antoine Pearson from the 2010 class looked like he could become one of the top guards in the MAAC when he was only a freshman. Pearson did not get better under Rohrssen. After averaging 9.5 PPG as a freshman, Pearson only averaged 7.9 PPG as a senior.
Devon Austin was a sophomore when Rohrssen entered the Manhattan program. Austin was a very talented forward who had scored 7.6 PPG as a freshman under Bobby Gonzalez.
Although Austin made slight improvements under Rohrssen, he clearly never reached his full potential. Austin looked a possible future MAAC POY as a freshman, but he came nowhere close to that achievement, averaging only 11.1 PPG in his senior year.
The only slight exception that can made is the development of Darryl Crawford. Crawford was one of Rohrssen's first recruits and showed signs of being a good player for Manhattan, but did not seem to be too talented as a freshman. Crawford managed to improve under Rohrssen and had a strong season in 2009-10 with 14.8 PPG and 6.3 RPG.
Personally, I would say that Rohrssen has to finish above .500 this season to deserve one more chance, and then I would set expectations much higher for next season.
However, Rohrssen has enough talent that a sub-500 record would be embarrassing for the Manhattan program. Rohrssen has to get his team winning if he wants to keep his job for 2011-12.
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