The end of a long, mainly miserable season for Manhattan is finally in sight.
The Jaspers (5-21, 3-12 MAAC) will be coming off what was possibly their best performance of the year when they beat Siena by a score of 84-81.
Here are the seniors that will be honored at tonight's game.
Gabriel had high hopes as a freshman after being named to the New York City team for the Jordan Classic in 2007. Gabriel struggled early in his career, but he has improved as a post player and as a ball-handler while being with the Jaspers.
Gabriel looked set for a breakout year in 2010-11 with a 19 point performance against NJIT in the first game, but he has struggled since, not scoring in double digits since November 20.
The Bronx native became a fan favorite as a freshman walk-on. Since then, Walsh has improved into an everyday player, although he does not start. Walsh's Riverdale friends will probably boost up the attendance for tonight's game.
Jemison joined the Jaspers in December of this season as a graduate student who played his first three years of basketball at Alabama. The transfer has started every game since becoming eligible and has scored in double digits eight times. Jemison has also recorded four double-doubles.
Keys for Iona
Win the battle on the boards:
Manhattan has kept games close with offensive rebounding. Iona has to fight hard on the defensive boards to limit Manhattan's second chances.
Convert at the foul line:
In Manhattan's last game against Siena, Siena shot itself in the foot by missing a bunch of early free throws, and that could have been the difference in a game decided by three points. Manhattan is good enough at home to stay close with any MAAC team, and free throws can easily be the difference between a Gaels win and a Gaels loss.
Iona is not a great three-point shooting team, but the Gaels have a few players that can do some damage from beyond the arc. Manhattan does not have strong perimeter defense. Iona should use that as an advantage and take its share of shots from three-point range.
In the first meeting between the Gaels and the Jaspers, Iona shot a lot of three-point shots. However, it eventually paid off as the Gaels hit 10 three-point shots, three above their average for the year.
Keys for Manhattan
Don't fall far behind:
In multiple games, Manhattan has fallen behind early in the game, including the first meeting against Iona when the Gaels started the game on a 17-2 run.
In games like this, the Jaspers have usually managed to come back and at least make the game close for part of the second half. However, when they fall behind so much, they run out of gas before they can actually take a lead and command of the game.
If Manhattan can stay within single digits for the whole game, their chances of winning increase.
Manhattan's strength on the offensive glass has helped keep them in games at points this season. Against a superior team like Iona, the Jaspers will need to stay strong on the offensive glass.
Beamon and Brutus should have the same pre-game meal as they had on Sunday:
Whatever those two did to prepare for Sunday's game against Siena, they should keep it up. Both scored career-highs against the Saints (Beamon with 35, Brutus with 20), and having consistent scorers like them could be all the Jaspers need to win a few games down the stretch.
My pick: Iona by 7