Names you need to know: George Beamon (19.4 ppg, 6.5 rp, 1.6 spg); Rhamel Brown (9.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.7 bpg); Michael Alvarado (12.3 ppg, 4.1 apg); Emmy Andujar (8.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.2 apg)
Stats you need to know: The Jaspers are 42nd in adjusted defense efficiency according to kenpom.com. Manhattan will represent the MAAC with a balanced attack on offensive and defense, averaging 77.6 points per game (good for 38th nationally) while possessing the conference’s most efficient defense.
Tendencies: Manhattan can and will run deep. Only Beamon and Alvarado record double-digits in scoring. But 11 Jaspers average double figures in minutes per game with seven logging more than 17 minutes a night.
Big wins, bad losses: Out of conference, Manhattan knocked off La Salle to open the season, but dropped games against George Washington and Fordham. The Jaspers also topped Buffalo in overtime. In conference, Manhattan finished out the regular season and the conference tournament winners of 11 of its last 12 games.
How’d they get here?: After taking all St. Peter’s could give them in the first half, the Jaspers pulled away in the second half, before handling Quinnipiac in the semifinals. For the second time in 11 days, Manhattan got the best of its rival Iona.
Outlook: Manhattan is likely going be slotted as a No. 13 seed. I’m sure a lot of high seed will be unhappy about being matched up with the Jaspers.
How do I know you?: Manhattan came very close to making the NCAA tournament last season, falling to Iona in the MAAC final. The Jaspers are experienced and have the talent on offense and defense, and the coach, who can give any high seed a scare.
Last season in the MAAC tournament championship game, Iona punched its ticket to its second straight NCAA tournament, knocking off in-state rival Manhattan. A week ago, the Gaels and Jaspers met in their final meeting of the regular season with Manhattan pulling out an 80-77 overtime win over the MAAC regular season champion. They will enter as the top two seeds in Springfield this week, but getting back to the title game will prove to be difficult, I mean after all, Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello said it himself, “This is not a one-bid league.”
Quinnipiac, a newcomer to the MAAC this season, has seen instant success with its frontline of Ike Azotam and Ousmane Drame each grabbing 10 rebounds per game. Canisius guard Billy Baron is flying under the radar nationally for the season he’s had. He’ll try and replicate the success Iona had as the four-seed last year and lead the Golden Griffins to the Big Dance.
Siena is the last team in the MAAC with a winning conference record as first-year head coach Jimmy Patsos has his Saints riding a four-game winning streak — the only team to beat Manhattan in the last month — heading into the tournament.
The Gaels have been to back-to-back NCAA tournaments, earning the automatic bid in 2013. The league’s most efficient offense has some experienced and talented offensive weapons in Sean Armand, A.J. English and David Laury. Iona can get out and run on its opponents, which help makes up for its defensive, which ranks in the middle of the pack in the MAAC in terms of efficiency. The Gaels have won 12 of their last 13, though Quinnipiac, Canisius and Manhattan — three of the other contenders in the MAAC — have all defeated them this season.
And if they lose?: Manhattan
Iona has the MAAC’s most potent offense. It’s toughest competition is Manhattan, the conference’s most efficient defenses. They have the offensive talent with George Beamon and Mike Alvardo — the two leading scorers — along Rhamel Brown inside. The Jaspers will go in with some added motivation after having their magical run as the six-seed ended inside the MassMutual Center a season ago.
Canisius: Billy Baron has the scoring prowess to lead the Golden Griffins to the title in his last chance at an NCAA tournament appearance.
Quinnipiac: The Bobcats control over the glass — an average of eight more than any other team in the MAAC — can spoil hopes of a Iona-Manhattan rematch.
Siena: The Saints, picked 10th in the MAAC preseason poll, have exceeded expectations. Can a magical tournament run cap Patsos’ first year?
Billy Baron, Canisius: The second leading scorer in the conference at 25.1 point per game. He’s also hit some clutch shots this season.
Rhamel Brown and George Beamon, Manhattan: The duo combines for 32 points and 12 rebounds per game for the Jaspers.
Sean Armand, Iona: Leads the high-powered Iona offense, which has five players averaging double figures, with 17.8 points per game.
Just when it looked like Canisius and Iona were about to make the MAAC a two team race at the top of the conference standings, Manhattan delivered a statement win in Buffalo tonight as they beat Canisius, 84-73.
The Jaspers entered the game reeling having lost three of their last five games, dropping them to 8-4 in the MAAC — two games behind both Canisius and Iona. Their leading scorer and top player, George Beamon, had been struggling to relocate his scoring groove that he was in prior to injuring his shoulder and missing three games. Beamon was averaging just 13 points since his return against Rider on January 24th.
Tonight in Buffalo, however, the George Beamon of old emerged, and Manhattan looked like the team that began the season 13-3. Beamon out-shined Canisius’ star Billy Baron, pouring in 27 points on 9-22 FG, 5-9 3PT.
It was clear from the outset Baron was going to have to work for his points. The Jaspers began the game on a 15-1 run, and Baron didn’t take his first shot until the 9:45 mark of the opening half. Tonight, the MAAC’s top defensive team kept one of the best offensive teams at bay.
Manhattan becomes the first MAAC team to hold Canisius under a point per possession. Impressive work by Jaspers.
While the Golden Griffins made a run, cutting it to 32-30 with 5:15 remaining in the opening half as Baron began to heat up, they were never able to take the lead. Manhattan extended the advantage to 47-35 at halftime, and fended off every run Canisius made in the second half.
Baron, who is one of the best and most efficient offensive players in the country, had to work for every one of his 22 points — credit RaShawn Stores for making life difficult for Baron all night.
Manhattan still trails their rival Iona by two games in the MAAC, but with Beamon looking like he is back at full-strength and the Jaspers hosting the Gaels later in the season, one would be foolish to count Steve Masiello’s group out in the race for the regular season MAAC title.
After proving to be one of the MAAC’s most prolific scorers as a junior in 2011-12, Manhattan guard George Beamon didn’t get the opportunity to build on that success in 2012-13. Limited to just four games due to a severe ankle injury, Beamon received a medical redshirt and with it the opportunity to go out on “his terms.” And through 14 games Beamon picked up right where he left off in 2011-12, scoring 20.1 points per game for a team pegged by many as the favorite to win the MAAC.
But on Thursday night Beamon’s run of good health came to an end, as he was forced to leave the Jaspers’ 81-76 loss at Quinnipiac early in the first half with a right shoulder injury. On Friday it was reported by Joshua Newman of the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press that Beamon suffered a sprained SC joint in the shoulder and could miss three to four weeks of game action.
Given Beamon’s production this is a big personnel loss for Steve Masiello’s Jaspers. But to jump to the conclusion that Manhattan’s chances of winning the MAAC are finished because of it would be a mistake.
While Beamon’s the primary scoring option there are other players capable of picking up the slack offensively. Michael Alvarado accounted for 23 points and ten rebounds on Thursday night, with Shane Richards (11 points) and Ashton Pankey (ten) also reaching double figures on a night that saw Rhamel Brown struggle offensively (seven points on 2-for-11 shooting). Those are some of the options at Masiello’s fingertips when it comes to accounting for the loss of Beamon, and keep in mind that the Jaspers went through an adjustment period of sorts during last season’s injury-riddled campaign.
Manhattan struggled mightily during non-conference play last season with a diminished roster, but they still managed to go 9-9 in MAAC play and reach the title game of the MAAC tournament. And given the number of players in this season’s rotation who were a part of that run, Manhattan has the pieces needed to make the necessary adjustments.
Manhattan made a statement on Saturday, winning a thrilling, double-overtime battle at La Salle 99-90.
George Beamon led five scorers in double-figures with 24 points and eight boards while Emmy Andujar chipped in with 14 points, 11 boards, three assists and three steals.
Tyrone Garland led the way for La Salle with 28 points, which included a 26-foot three that he hit without about 10 seconds left in the game to force overtime. La Salle had trailed by 10 points with about four minutes left in the game.
La Salle had control for much of the overtime period, but Rhamel Brown — who finished with 14 points, eight boards and five blocks — grabbed one of his seven offensive rebounds and tied the game for Manhattan at 81. He blocked a potential game-winner by Tyreek Duren at the other end to force the second extra period.
Manhattan took control in the second overtime, with Michael Alvarado hitting the three that put them ahead for good.
The Explorers are a top three team in the Atlantic 10. They are coming off of a trip to last year’s Sweet 16 and have enough talent on their roster to make a return to the NCAA tournament this season. Winning this game on the road is quite the statement from Manhattan, who is expected to contend for the MAAC title.
2013-2014 MAAC Preview: Manhattan, Canisius, Iona at the top
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.
To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.
Last season was supposed to be the year that Manhattan, in Steve Masiello’s second year at the helm, made their move in the MAAC. They were coming off a 21-13 record in Masiello’s first year, and George Beamon, the leading scorer in the league in 2011-12, was returning for his senior season. An ankle injury to Beamon derailed Manhattan as they got out to a 6-15 start, yet they rebounded by making it to the MAAC championship nearly beating Iona. With a healthy Beamon back for a fifth year, Ashton Pankey, a Maryland transfer who sat out last season, now eligible, and two time defensive player of the year Rhamel Brown returning in the frontcourt, the Jaspers are the favorite to win the MAAC and return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.
Many point to Iona, Manhattan’s bitter rival, as the primary challenger. Understandably so as the Gaels have been to the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons and return two of the league’s top players in Sean Armand and David Laury. While they will no doubt challenge, Canisius is poised to have a big year with Billy Baron returning for his senior season. Factor in guard Chris Perez, who is using his final year of eligibility after graduating from Stetson this past May where he earned All-Atlantic Sun Second Team, and Canisius has the top backcourt in the league.
Two programs that may be on the uptick are Rider and Marist. The Broncs surprised everyone last year finishing second in the league, and return two of the top players in Anthony Myles and Daniel Stewart. Marist, meanwhile, struggled for much of last season finishing with a 10-21 record, which proved to be the demise of Chuck Martin. In comes Jeff Bower, an assistant at Marist from 1986-1995 and former general manager of the New Orleans Hornets, to try and right the ship. He steps into a program that returns Adam Kemp and Chavaughn Lewis who both earned Third Team All-MAAC honors last season.
In their first season in the MAAC, Quinnipiac will be instantly competitive as they return Ike Azotam and Ousamane Drame in the frontcourt.
While they don’t figure to contend right away, Siena, under first year coach Jimmy Patsos, will be a story to watch all season. Patsos successfully transformed Loyola (Maryland), formerly of the MAAC, into one of the league’s top programs.
In: Monmouth and Quinnipiac Out: Loyola (Maryland)
PRESEASON MAAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Billy Baron, Canisius
Baron (17.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.0 apg) has the ability to fill it up like a shooting guard, go off the dribble like a two-guard, and has the handle of a point guard. As Canisius’ starting point guard for the second season, Baron will look to lead Canisius to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996.
FOUR MORE NAMES TO KNOW
Antoine Mason, Niagara: Losing Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley to Hofstra makes Mason, a First Team All-MAAC player from last season, the focal point for first year coach Chris Casey.
Sean Armand, Iona: One of the best shooters in the country at any level, Armand was one of just ten players to drill 100 or more three-pointers last season.
George Beamon, Manhattan: Arguably the top player in the MAAC, the Jaspers will go as far as Beamon takes them, and that may be to the NCAA Tournament.
Chavaughn Lewis, Marist: After averaging just a shade over 8 ppg midway through the non-conference schedule, Lewis ripped up the MAAC averaging nearly 20 ppg in league games.