High hopes set in for Manhattan fans when Barry Rohrssen took hold of the reins of one of the best mid-major programs in the nation back in 2006. Rohrssen had a reputation as an outstanding recruiter, and he seemed like the type of coach that could keep Manhattan's status as a dominant mid-major.
Those hopes are long gone now.
Rohrssen had a winning season only once in his first four years with Manhattan, and three more losses this season will make it impossible for the Jaspers to finish with a winning record entering the MAAC conference tournament.
This year had the potential to be Manhattan's year. The Jaspers had their most talented team since 2005-06 when they went to the second round of the NIT.
After a 2-0 start to the 2010-11 season, Manhattan has lost 13 straight games—and it's not as though Manhattan has played an especially tough schedule. Manhattan is No. 302 in RPI and 0-5 in the MAAC.
On Tuesday night, the Jaspers will play at Florida Atlantic (11-6, 4-0 Sun Belt). The Owls opened the season at 3-4 but have been playing very well since then.
Florida Atlantic started a winning trend on November 30 with a road win over Mississippi State. The Owls also beat South Florida from the Big East and then went 3-2 on a road trip. The Owls enter the match against Manhattan in first place in the Sun Belt East.
Manhattan has managed to stay close with its recent opponents, but the Jaspers will need to be near perfect in order to beat Florida Atlantic.
Keys for Manhattan
Run an offense. Manhattan has a somewhat talented and athletic team. The Jaspers also have multiple offensive threats.
Kidani Brutus is a solid three-point shooter.
Mike Alvarado is a strong driver and has a good jump shot. Alvarado is coming off an ankle injury, but he is supposed to play in Tuesday's game.
Demetrius Jemison has been great in the high post and also has solid ball-handling skills for a big man.
George Beamon is an excellent driver. The sophomore has a couple of moves that get him to the basket for easy buckets.
With all of this, Rohrssen needs to find a way to get every player involved and get them high percentage. Manhattan's lack of a set offense is one of the main reasons that the Jaspers have not won since before Thanksgiving.
Stay in a 1-3-1 zone. Manhattan's 1-3-1 zone is not great, but it has been their best defense this year. Against some teams, the 1-3-1 zone has shut down the opposing guards.
The other defense that the Jaspers run is a 2-3 zone. When the Jaspers play in a 2-3 zone, opponents get tons of open three-point looks. The Jaspers' 2-3 zone is the reason why opponents shoot nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Keys for Florida Atlantic
Don't be afraid to shoot three's. Manhattan is not strong with perimeter defense. Florida Atlantic has a few solid three-point shooters whose numbers would probably rise against Manhattan.
Battle on the boards. Neither Florida Atlantic nor Manhattan is a good rebounding team. On average, Florida Atlantic grabs 34.4 RPG, and Manhattan grabs 34.5 RPG. If Florida Atlantic can win the rebound battle, it will have every advantage over Manhattan.
My line: Florida Atlantic by 13