Defensively: Right away, you notice how patient and in control Manning is of his stick. Playing straight-up man-to-man defense, his athleticism allows him to match speed with the opponent. As a defender, he is relentless, constantly making his offender aware that he is right there throwing numerous poke checks and playing an aggressive body defense.
Against Manning, no player can really get too comfortable. A few times, the offender would drop his forearm ever-so-slightly, allowing Manning to have just enough space to create the turnover with a quick check. The opposition simply did not protect his stick, exposing the butt-end of it in the process.
What I didn't see: Onondaga Community College was extremely dominant playing man-to-man defense that I didn't see how Manning would react in a zone. This type of defense is predominantly used to slow teams down, get its wheels turning and force them to be creative from the outside. Onondaga didn't really need to go that route, outscoring its opponents 450-91 and securing its seventh national championship this past May.
Offensively: What was impressive about Manning in terms of his offensive game was his ability to fill the gaps in transition. Versatile is a good word to describe the defender. A few highlights showed him scooping up the ground ball, flicking it to his teammate, and finding a spot in the offense.
Manning, too, from the looks of it, isn't afraid to let it rip. Many of his goals were smart shots. A few times, the opponent didn't respect him from the outside of the fan. Manning made him pay more often than not with a riser, scorching the top corner of the net. The long-stick midfielder would also act as a passer, throwing in a shot fake and then dish to his teammates, too.
Lastly, Manning also lined up on the face-off, usually on the left side, and acted as a first and/or second option to spark the offense on a fast break. Ground balls were again the norm for this veteran junior college transfer, gobbling up multiple in his highlight film.
Check out the long-stick midfielder in action, below:
Film study: Niko Manning
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