Manhattan is lead by 2nd year head coach Barry Rohrsson, a native New Yorker, who’s previous assignments had been at Pitt and UNLV. He inherited a solid mid major program from Bobby Gonzalez after “Gonzo” bolted for the Seton Hall and the Big East in 2006. They play a determined style of basketball with bursts of up tempo surprises and have posted a 7-4 record so far this season. This game will mark the 31st meeting between the schools dating to December of 1907. Rutgers leads in the series with a 16-14 mark, but have lost the last two games in a row in 1995 and 1996.
The Jaspers are lead by 6’2” guard (#14) Antoine Pearson (12.5ppg), 6’2” guard (#10) Patrick Bouli, and 6’4” freshman guard sensation (#33) Rashad Green. Green has been named the MAAC rookie of the week 3 times in the past month. Manhattan relies on three 6’6” post players to moderate the action underneath the basket. Devon Austin (#23) leads here with his 10.9ppg and 10 blocked shots. As a team they shoot 43% from the floor, hit about one third of their 3 point attempts and hit 65% from the free throw line. With three common opponents, the Jaspers have walloped NJIT 70-28, beaten St. Peters 65-62 and slipped by the Princeton Tigers 71-66.
Rutgers needs to be well prepared and take this team very seriously. Freshman guard Corey Chandler will be sitting down once again while he allows his stress fracture to heal properly. Anthony Farmer has continued to improve as the season progresses and the Knights will need his veteran leadership from the point position. He’s logging a lot of minutes and has come through with 10.8ppg, hitting 45.6% from the field and is 2nd on the team in 3 point shots, hitting 38.1 %. Anthony has been steady at the foul line netting a rate of 78.4% of his attempts. JR Inman could have a big game against the Jaspers with his steady play. Averaging 16.1ppg while hitting 45.3% from the field he can be relied upon to hit the three pointer with a team leading 41.5% on his attempts. Hamady N’Diaye will have an opportunity to dominate in the middle by blocking shots and intimidating the smaller players in the paint. He simply needs to avoid unnecessary fouls.
Jaron Griffin must be muzzled. He cannot take any more three point shots. He is hitting an abysmal 18.3% on the long bombs, but refuses to change his game. His misses simply lead to turnovers when Rutgers is out of position to rebound these lousy shots. Sit him down until he agrees to play at the post.
Manhattan will go to the zone, and Rutgers can respond with 3pt attempts by Inman, Farmer and maybe freshman Justin Sofman if given the opportunity. Griffin must assist with these attempts, not take them.
The captain, Byron Joynes has become a strong, steadying influence in the middle and just needs to come up with some important rebounds. Mike Coburn, Courtney Nelson and Earl Pettis need to find their comfort levels early, find a few weaknesses, and take the ball strong to the basket.
Rutgers will once again need a very strong, relentless defensive effort if they expect to survive against a smart, methodical, well coached MAAC club.