Breaking down Manhattan’s lob play that forced overtime at UMass

Manhattan didn’t get the win, but it had the play of the game — and possibly the entire ESPN Tipoff Marathon.

Trailing UMass by two with a baseline inbounds play coming, Steve Masiello had time to draw something up as the officials decided to put 0.8 seconds on the clock.

Here’s what happened:

UMass knew Manhattan only had time for, at most, a catch and shoot. With Emmy Andujar inbounding the ball, the sharpshooting Shane Richards and the 6-foot-10 Ashton Pankey were the Minutemen’s biggest threats.

First, notice Tyler Wilson shift to the near corner. For some reason, UMass center Cady Lalanne follows him, leaving one less person to protect the rim. Aside: why was Lalanne guarding Wilson, a point guard who scores all his points at the rim or foul line? They must have been expecting Wilson to screen for Pankey, who was being guarded on the far block by Trey Davis.

Then, Richards, who had already burned UMass with three tightly contested treys, sets a back screen for Rich Williams. He slows down Jabarie Hinds just enough to give Williams a step advantage going down the lane. Richards was the perfect Jasper to set the pick because Derrick Gordon, his man, would never have thought to leave him leaking towards the three-point line.

Gordon also probably thought there was help behind him. No way the lane could be totally devoid of Minutemen.

But Davis followed Pankey, acting as a decoy, just far enough towards the right corner. Sufficient scouting on Manhattan would show Pankey doesn’t really have range beyond 12-15 feet, anyway, and he has a long release. Davis did not recognize that until it was too late. He couldn’t recover, and Williams, with a perfect pass from Andujar, skied for the alley-oop.

Credit UMass for rebounding with an overtime win, but that play was just brilliant.

2014 Connecticut 6 Classic Roundup

Quinnipiac senior guard Zaid Hearst . Courtesy photo / John Hassett Photography
Quinnipiac senior guard Zaid Hearst . Courtesy photo / John Hassett Photography

A double overtime game, a near-brawl between two teams not in the same conference, a 5’10” guard nearly recording a triple double, a 6’9″ forward blocking seven shots, two 30-plus point performances, and a small arena crowd, if but for a few brief moments, creating a top-notch atmosphere.

No, this was not a description of Duke’s nail-biting 69 point win over powerhouse Presbyterian played inside always raucous Cameron Indoor Stadium; This was the 2014 Connecticut 6 Classic, played at Quinnipiac’s TD Bank Sports Center, an arena where it’s hockey rink seats nearly as many as it’s basketball court.

Friday night in Hamden, CT saw three games between the six Connecticut mid-major universities, all of whom displayed some high major play at times. Presenting, your blink-quick recap, all-time Connecticut 6 win-loss records, and All-Classic team:

Fairfield, 9th in the coaches and OBW pre-season polls showed promise of a potential run at the top half of the MAAC with a 71-63 win over the NEC’s Central Connecticut State.

Quinnipiac and Yale put on one of the great games in the history of the event in an 88-85 win for the Bobcats in double overtime. Continue reading “2014 Connecticut 6 Classic Roundup”

Connecticut 6 Classic: Fairfield-CCSU

It’s not often a team not far removed from four straight post-season berths/ 19 win seasons would go through a “bounce-back” campaign, but that’s what 2014-15 is for the Fairfield Stags, following a 7-25 record in 2013-2014 and being voted ninth in the MAAC pre-season poll.

The season-opening Connecticut 6 Classic has been kind to Fairfield since its inception in the 2009-2010 season, as the Stags entered Friday’s game vs. Central Connecticut State 5-0 all-time in the event, with two of those wins coming against the Blue Devils.

The success of this year’s Stags might fall on the shoulders of brothers Marcus and Malcolm Gilbert. If things go as they did in their season opener on Friday against Central Connecticut State, the Stags might be in for a surprising season.

Marcus, a 6’6” junior, was Mr. Everything for Fairfield, scoring 21 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and dishing out four assists. The key for both Gilberts, perhaps the key for Fairfield as a whole, will be how consistent their play is. Malcolm allowed points in the paint to CCSU guards, and putbacks to Blue Devils’ forward Brandon Peel, en route to an early 10-3 Stags deficit, and only played 15 minutes. Marcus displayed a well-rounded game, but forced several shots in traffic and from well beyond the NBA three-point line when he was unable to find an open player. Marcus’ poor play should be nothing to worry about though, according to head coach Sydney Johnson,

“Slow starts and things like that don’t deter Marcus. In those moments, he’s looking at me like ‘Coach, I got this,’ and I have faith that he does.”

Fairfield raced out to a 35-26 halftime lead, and never trailed in the second half, though Central did close it to 55-53 with 3:39 to play. From there, Coleman Johnson and Amadou Sidibe both converted three-point plays as part of a game-changing 9-0 run for Fairfield. Johnson finished with 17 points; Sidibe pitched in with a double-double, 13 points and 12 rebounds. Continue reading “Connecticut 6 Classic: Fairfield-CCSU”

2014 Connecticut 6 Classic: Quinnipiac-Yale

It’s not often an out-of-conference season opener serves as the backdrop for a “revenge” game, but that’s what Friday’s Connecticut 6 Classic game vs. Yale was for Quinnipiac.

It started, oddly enough, with a 2013 NCAA Frozen Four National Championship Game between the two teams, which Yale won 4-0.

Then, there was the first round of the 2014 Coaches Invitational Tournament. Down two in a game that featured 12 ties and 11 lead changes, and with time winding down, Yale’s Justin Sears banked in a three-pointer with less than a second remaining, giving Yale a 69-68 win.

Fast forward to the 2014 Connecticut 6 Classic and, with plenty of “Yuck Fale” shirts in the stands, Quinnipiac looked for a little bit of payback against the Bulldogs. They got it, barely, with an 88-85 double overtime win in one of the best games in the history of the Classic.

The first half turned into somewhat of a showdown between a couple of 6’4” seniors. For Yale, Javier Duren dropped 19 points, going 7-8 from the floor, many of those coming from foul line extended jumpers. Quinnipiac answered with Zaid Hearst, who dropped 17 points, courtesy of three 3-pointers.

The second, and both overtimes, became the coming out party for Quinnipiac’s Justin Harris. After barely averaging seven minutes per game his first three seasons with the team, the 6’8” senior poured in 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting off the bench in 20 minutes of action. He also hustled to a key loose ball in the final seconds of the 2nd overtime after Yale’s Jack Montague, whose three-pointer in the first overtime sent the game to a second OT, lost the ball going up for another potential game-tying trey. Harris’ play kept the Bulldogs from trailing in either overtime session.

Quinnipiac has been a force of rebounding nature, finishing in the top two in total rebounding, offensive, and rebounding margin each of the last three years, leading the nation in all three last year. Yale, despite five rotation players 6’7” or taller, proved no match for the Bobcats on the glass. Quinnipiac grabbed 54 rebounds, 22 of those offensive, and finished with a rebounding margin of +16, all three numbers well above last season’s averages.

Both Yale head coach James Jones and Duren touched on rebounding in their post-game press conferences, mentioning how the game was lost not in the overtime periods, but in regulation, because the Bulldogs did not rebound the ball well and allowed too many second chances, most notably an Ousemane Drame offensive rebound that resulted in a game tying put-back with less than 30 seconds to go. Continue reading “2014 Connecticut 6 Classic: Quinnipiac-Yale”

2014-2015 MAAC Preview: Iona, Manhattan, and Siena are the teams to beat

Laury averaged 14 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists as a junior. Courtesy Photo / ICGaels.com
Laury averaged 14 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists as a junior. Courtesy Photo / ICGaels.com

Iona and Manhattan have split the last two MAAC championships. A rubber match could be in the cards in 2014-15, but Siena and even Saint Peter’s could spoil the party.

Before we take a look at those four teams and the rest of the league, I would like to make a few disclaimers. I heavily favored players on contenders for all-league awards, hence the Marcus Gilberts of the league are omitted. Also, I did not consider any newcomers for all-league honors, which were based both on last year’s production and expectations for this year.

Teams are ranked in my projected order of finish.

1. Iona

Last season: 22-11 (17-3)

Postseason: NIT, lost first round

Key losses: Sean Armand, Tre Bowman, Mike Poole

Key returnees: David Laury, A.J. English, Isaiah Williams, Ryden Hines

This is the third straight year that Iona has needed to replace its leading scorer. It was Mike Glover two years ago, and Momo Jones last year. Now, it’s Sean Armand. The Gaels have never skipped a beat offensively, so why should this year be any different? Especially when you consider they have the MAAC’s best big three in David Laury, A.J. English and Isaiah Williams.

Laury shredded 25 pounds off his 6-foot-9 frame during the offseason, improving his explosiveness and quickness, according to Tim Cluess. The versatile Laury has been a matchup nightmare since he became eligible in December 2012, and a summer spent working on his jumper should only make OBW’s MAAC Preseason Player of the Year harder to guard.

English is a first-teamer with a legitimate shot of stealing POY honors from his teammate. The combo guard can score in a variety of ways. He’ll beat opponents off the dribble and make them pay from long range and everywhere in between. English averaged 17.2 points per game last year. Of all returning MAAC players used in at least 24 percent of their team’s possessions, only Laury (111.8) had a better offensive rating than English’s 107.8.

And then there’s Isaiah Williams, a freakish athlete who led the MAAC with a 131.9 ORtg while being used 15.7 percent of the time. He’s a tough matchup because of his quickness and shooting ability as a 6-foot-7 forward.

Defense is always a weak point for Iona, but Williams’ tenacity on that end of the floor makes the Gaels a better team with him on the court. He can lock down smaller perimeter players with his quickness and length and cause fits for forwards with his supreme athleticism.

Ryden Hines, Schadrac Casimir, Kelvin Amayo and Jeylani Dublin will join the big three in Cluess’ initial seven-man rotation. Casimir, in particular, is a player to watch. He’s a small guard with an affinity for filling up the bucket. Continue reading “2014-2015 MAAC Preview: Iona, Manhattan, and Siena are the teams to beat”

Siena’s Imoh Silas tears ACL, out for year

Siena announced Tuesday afternoon that senior center Imoh Silas will miss the upcoming season after tearing his ACL. He sustained the injury to his right knee in a practice last week.

This is not a season-altering development for the Saints, who will be a top-tier team in the MAAC, but Silas did bring a defensive presence to the table. The 6-foot-9 center averaged 3.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 16.8 minutes per game last year, and he would have come off the bench for Jimmy Patsos to spell starters Brett Bisping or Javion Ogunyemi this year.

“He gives us toughness and rebounding,” Patsos said in Siena’s release. “He won some games for us last year. He single-handedly won that Cornell game and that was a big turnaround for us.”

Silas had 17 points, 14 rebounds, two steals and a block in 36 minutes in that Cornell game, a 71-70 Siena win on Nov. 22. His putback with six seconds left was the deciding bucket.

After starting 53 of his 68 games with the Saints, Silas was in position to remain in the lineup. However, Ogunyemi added muscle and refined his game over the summer, influencing Patsos to tell OBW the sophomore would start at center in 2014-15.

So at least the Saints have their starting five intact: Marquis Wright, Rob Poole, Lavon Long, Bisping and Ogunyemi. They also return every other key player from last year’s team, which won nine of its last 11 games and captured the CBI title.

Siena opens its season Friday at UMass.

Weight off his shoulders: How Iona’s David Laury moved on from last season’s bitter end

David Laury has shed weight and improved his jumper since last season ended. Courtesy Photo / ICGaels.com
David Laury has shed weight and improved his jumper since last season ended. Courtesy Photo / ICGaels.com

Replays of the shot cycled through David Laury’s head all offseason.

With Iona trailing Manhattan 71-68 in the 2014 MAAC championship’s waning seconds, the ball landed in Laury’s hands deep on the right wing. He had no choice but to shoot, and that’s what he did.

The shot ricocheted off the backboard, clanked off the rim at the buzzer and popped the cork on the rival Jaspers’ celebration.

“I thought about it all summer,” Laury said.

The 6-foot-9 senior forward also did something about it.

Laury, whom Tim Cluess said weighed about 280 pounds two years ago, had cut down to the low 260s for last season. He still wasn’t where he needed to be — where Cluess wanted him to be.

So Laury changed the way he ate, giving his calorie consumption a 7 p.m. curfew. Iona already runs a lot, but Laury ran even more. He and Isaiah Williams would venture back to Iona’s cardio room after practice three or four times per week for two miles on the treadmill and three more on the bike.

The result: another 20-25 pounds shaved off his body. Cluess said Laury weighs in around 240.

“I’m in the best shape, I feel, of my life,” said Laury, who averaged 14 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game last year.

Laury averaged 14 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists as a junior. Courtesy Photo / ICGaels.com
Laury averaged 14 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists as a junior. Courtesy Photo / ICGaels.com

Laury was already a versatile player for the Gaels because of his handling and passing abilities, but now he can do even more.

“Imagine taking [25 pounds] off your back and being able to run up and down the court and jump and do other things,” Cluess said. “He puts so much time into his game, so not only is he quicker, faster and more explosive, but he now is shooting the ball better, making better decisions and can sustain his energy much longer.”

And he’s also still thinking about that shot against Manhattan, a reminder of his versatility’s limits last year.

“That shot wasn’t for me,” he said.

Now, it is, thanks to the offseason work Laury devoted to his jumper. He can still bang on the block, attack off the dribble and lead a break. He admits he’s not yet a lethal shooter, and opponents will continue to defend his dribble on the perimeter until he proves himself in games.

But at least he wants the ball in a shooting spot.

“If I’m open — wherever it is — I feel comfortable enough to shoot it and knock it down,” he said. Continue reading “Weight off his shoulders: How Iona’s David Laury moved on from last season’s bitter end”

Lessons from Mike Alvarado, George Beamon, Rhamel Brown have Manhattan set to reload, not rebuild

Mike Alvarado ran out of eligibility at Manhattan, but he is still making an impact on the program.
Mike Alvarado ran out of eligibility at Manhattan, but he is still making an impact on the program.

Steve Masiello loved knowing where his production would come from in 2013-14.

“The thing I realized about last year’s team was you knew what you were getting every night,” the Manhattan coach said on Oct. 22. “George was going to get his 17 [points] and seven [rebounds], Rhamel was going to get his 12 [points] and four [blocks] and Mike was going to be Mike.”

He was, of course, referring to George Beamon, Rhamel Brown and Mike Alvarado, a trio of holdovers from the Barry Rohrssen era that blossomed into MAAC stars under Masiello.

With their collectively diverse skill set and leadership, the seniors carried Manhattan to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2004. Now, they’re gone.

Sort of.

Brown is playing professionally in Israel, and Beamon is entering the NBA D-League draft. Alvarado, however, is still on campus, finishing up his last semester of classes and working out with the team as he prepares for his pro career.

Masiello and Alvarado each shared the same wistful response when asked in jest if the NCAA had granted the point guard an extra year of eligibility: “I wish.”

But even an ineligible Alvarado has impacted the team this fall.

“It’s been great for the young guys,” Masiello said.

Alvarado has no position to fight for, yet he doesn’t just perfunctorily run through Manhattan’s sets in a practice 24 days before the Jaspers open their season at Florida State. He hustles. He sprints. He does the dirty work, which at one point includes running into a hard Masiello shoulder of a screen, set to show sophomore Carlton Allen how to compete physically with the ostensibly bigger, stronger Seminoles.

That’s just Mike being Mike.

“I’ve always said Mike was our culture. Mike was our toughness,” Masiello said. “The intangibles he brought were just phenomenal.” Continue reading “Lessons from Mike Alvarado, George Beamon, Rhamel Brown have Manhattan set to reload, not rebuild”

For Quinnipiac, crashing the glass is a strategy that can’t be shattered

At 6'4" Quinnipiac senior guard Zaid Hearst crashes the glass with the ferocity of a far larger player. Courtesy photo / John Hassett Photography
At 6’4″ Quinnipiac senior guard Zaid Hearst crashes the glass with the ferocity of a far larger player. Courtesy photo / John Hassett Photography

Quinnipiac’s identity has been welded on the glass ever since Tom Moore took over in 2007.

The Bobcats will crash hard. They will bang with anyone and everyone. They will grab rebounds — lots and lots of rebounds. You can bank on it.

Moore, a former UConn assistant, instilled in his team Jim Calhoun’s philosophy that rebounding teams are stoic, capable of tapping their strength regardless of variables that change by game.

For Quinnipiac, it’s a strategy that cannot be shattered.

“[Calhoun] always said rebounding traveled well, meaning that you could take it on the road and pretty much rely on it,” Moore said. “If it was something you did, you could do it every night. It’s not affected by a shooting slump or referees’ calls or even the opponent.”

Few teams have posted better rebounding numbers than Quinnipiac since Moore replaced Joe DeSantis in 2007. Even fewer have done so since 2010-11.

The Bobcats, who have led the country in offensive rebounding every year in that span, and topped the national charts in offensive rebounds per game (16.8), defensive rebounds per game (28.6) and total rebounds per game (45.5) last year. Their offensive rebounding percentage has ranked in the top four in the nation each of the last six seasons.

“To lead the country in all three categories last year, for a school our size is something [the players] are real proud of,” Moore said. “They put a lot of hard work into getting that. It’s something they’re very proud of and they believe in it.”

Of course when you play at a pace like Quinnipiac did last year, there will be plenty of misses to corral. The Bobcats ranked 31st in adjusted tempo with 69.9 possessions per game. They shot 42.4 percent from the field (No. 264 nationally), clanking more than enough shots to create their own second chance opportunities on offense(opponents shot 43.1 percent, good for 152 in the nation).

So are the rebounding numbers somewhat inflated? Yes.

Should that alter Quinnipiac’s strategy? No, probably not. Continue reading “For Quinnipiac, crashing the glass is a strategy that can’t be shattered”

OBW announces addition of Ari Kramer, expansion to the MAAC

One-Bid Wonders is extremely excited to announce the addition of Ari Kramer to its staff as its Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference beat writer.

“I have had the pleasure of following Ari’s career as a writer throughout his college career covering Binghamton for the Pipe Dream, and to say that I was impressed was a massive understatement,” said OBW editor-in-chief Sam Perkins. “Ari is dedicated to his craft, passionate, extremely knowledgeable, and churns out fantastic copy.”

A 2014 graduate from Binghamton University, Kramer covered the first two years of the Tommy Dempsey era for the Pipe Dream and created a following for the @bingbballblog twitter handle.

“I haven’t seen a student writer dedicate more time, effort and energy to his craft than Ari,” said Perkins. “What really impressed me was that, although he was writing for the Binghamton student paper, he didn’t limit his scope to just ‘his team,’ he was a student of the entire conference.”

While Kramer cut his teeth covering Binghamton’s rebuilding period in the America East conference, he will be returning to the roots of his obsession with college basketball at OBW, where he will be spearheading the publication’s expansion into the MAAC (he still believes that Manhattan-Iona is the best rivalry in the northeast). Based in New York City, Kramer will also contribute to OBW’s coverage of the Ivy League and aid in its expansion into the NEC. Continue reading “OBW announces addition of Ari Kramer, expansion to the MAAC”