MAAC Championship: Iona vs. Manhattan - LIVE BLOG
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • March 11, 2013 @ 8:20pm
Final—Iona 60, Manhattan 57. THE GAELS ARE DANCING!
:18—Shane Richards almost loses the ball on the right sideline, and then Alvarado misses a runner, Laury taps the ball to Sledge, who fires ahead to a sprinting Laury for huge dunk! That seals it for Iona. A technical foul on Iona for rushing the court—Kates hits both free throws, but there’s only .1 on the clock—nothing the Jaspers can do.
:27—Tre Bowman walks to the line to shoot two after he’s fouled by Alvarado. Two shots—first is good, sparking a rousing cheer from the Iona faithful to my right. Bowman’s second swishes, too, and it’s 58-52 Iona with 27 seconds left.
:36 —Good trap on the right side of the mid-court line by Koita and Stores, forcing Jones into another timeout. The score remains 56-52 Iona, and there’s an 11-second differential between shot clock and game clock. Interesting that Masiello has elected not to foul, perhaps because the Gaels are a terrific free-throw shooting team.
1:00—Jones holds the ball in the backcourt, milking the shot clock. Jones clanks a turnaround jumper, but David Laury III tips a VITALLY important offensive rebound to himself, and Armand calls timeout as he’s trapped in the corner. Manhattan trails by four with 44 ticks left in the game—Iona has the ball with 32 on the shot clock.
1:24—Dumb holding foul on Iona’s Tre Bowman, and Rhamel Brown walks to the line for two shots. Lucky bounce on the first shot. Koita enters for the Jaspers, Ridley checks in for Iona. Brown cans the free throw, and it’s suddenly 56-52 Iona.
1:51—Iona’s hit a scorching 65% from the floor in the second half, but the Gaels can’t improve it as they’re called for a shot clock violation when Laury failed to hit the rim after juggling an Armand lob in the post. Masiello calls for a timeout with 1:39 on the clock. The Manhattan coach is stern yet poised in the huddle as he draws up an offensive play for this trip down the floor. Will it be Andujar? Alvarado? Brown? The Jaspers urgently need a player to step up. Shane Richards in the game for Manhattan, a quality three-point shooter.
2:16—Six points and six turnovers for Andujar. Alvarado’s 14 points lead Manhattan, but he’s the only Jasper in double-figures.
2:42—Iona plays dribble-handoff in the backcourt, but Emmy Andujar strips Jones—who appeals for a foul as Andujar coasts down the floor for a fast-break lay-up. Timeout by Tim Cluess. 56-50 Iona.
3:13—Alvarado cuts through the lane and loses the handle on the way up—ball goes over to Iona, and nothing’s going right for Masiello’s club.
3:35—Under four media timeout, 56-48 Iona. By this game’s standards, eight points is a pretty wide margin with only 3:35 left. Manhattan must locate a source of offense from somewhere
3:35 —Smart charge take by the diminutive Stores, who realized he was in a mismatch against Laury and squared his body to the dribbler. Laury turned strong right into Stores’ chest, and the official correctly awarded the charge call. Laury brings his jersey to his face in frustration, and captain Sean Armand walks over to calm him down and ease the frustration.
4:21—Alvarado contorts his body in the lane and finds Mo Koita wide open in the right corner—his three is no good, but Brown and Laury battle for the board—it’s off Iona. Manhattan desperately needs a bucket here and then a stop. Trying to back down Laury, Brown slips to the ground and is called for the travel when he receives the entry bounce pass from Colonette. Tough luck for the Jaspers.
5:48—With a mismatch on Alvarado, Laury receives a great entry lob from Gomez—nice seal by Laury—and that’s another easy hoop from the big. Michael Alvarado drops in a long two for a quick Manhattan response—he’s been dynamite tonight. Gomez running the point now for Iona—he finds Armand in the corner, who dribble-drives right baseline and kicks to Bowman in the opposite corner—that three is good! 56-48 Iona.
6:26 —Tough hoop inside by Laury, who’s taking it to Brown in the second half. Great look from Sledge across the lane, but he’s been hit in the chest and is gasping for breath. Alvarado makes the first free-throw and the second. 51-46 Gaels.
7:56—Alvarado cans the first attempt from the line and the second. The Jaspers are just seventh in conference play from the line, hitting at only a 66% clip. Iona owns the league’s best free-throw shooting team. Two pump-fakes by Dave Laury leaves Brown planted to the floor, and he scores with his right. 49-41 Gaels. Alvarado penetrates and dishes back out to Rashawn Stores from the left wing, and he nails a huge three! Jaspers back within five.
7:56—Under eight timeout, 47-39 Gaels. The Jaspers have only mustered four points in the last 5:18—an extended dry-spell that has Masiello’s sixth-seeded Jaspers in a bit of a desperate situation.
7:56—Alvarado leaves Bowman in his tracks with a quick dribble to his right, and Laury’s forced to foul on help defense. Only two on Big Dave, though. Nine team fouls on each club, and both will be shooting two shots the rest of the way. Alvardo will have two after this media.
8:23—Sarcastic clap by Masiello toward the officials after Ridley picks up his fourth foul—a good draw by Emmy Andujar, and the Jasper sophomore shoots one-and-the-bonus. Front end drops through, and the second swishes. 47-39 Iona, and Colonette enters the fray for Manhattan. Press by the Jaspers, and Rashawn Stores takes a charge at mid-court on MoMo Jones! Big defensive play, and Masiello pumps his fist with excitement.
8:40 —MoMo squanders a runner, but Ridley is simply too strong on the block for Richards, and the skinny freshman grabs Ridley, who swishes the front end of the one-and-one. 10-2 run now for the Gaels after Ridley sinks the second.
9:03—Masiello receives a technical foul for stepping over the sideline! That’s a costly error, but it’s not like he didn’t receive two warnings. He is clearly holding in his temper right now. Jones drains the first technical free throw and the second as well. Still Iona ball, too, and the Gaels’ lead pushes to eight. Remember that moment, as Masiello just cost his team two points for repeated violation of leaving his coach’s box. Wow.
9:45—Masiello earns a warning from the sideline official for leaving his sideline by a few feet—he steps out again and he receives a second warning! No technical yet. Silky fade-away jumper from the right wing by MoMo Jones drops through, and he’s up to 12 points. Shane Richards travels on the left sideline, and momentum is pulling quickly in favor of Iona. 43-37 Iona—the Gaels’ biggest lead.
10:21—Stores crosses over between his legs and invites a reach from Sledge—that’s Tavon’s third foul. Bowman and Ridley nearly combine on another steal, and Bowman bangs into the scorer’s table—he’s fine. Iona in man defense, and there’s an offensive foul for an illegal screen on Rhamel Brown—only his first foul of the game, but that’s a crucial loss of possession.
11:19—Pull-up jumper from the free-throw line by Stores, and the freshman sinks—then admires—his shot. Dennis airballs a three, but Ridley established good position in the paint and drew a foul on Roberto Colonette. Mismatch with Andujar guarding Laury, but Sledge knifes through two Manhattan defenders and scores at the tin with his right. 41-37 Gaels. Turnover by Alvarado, but he hustles back in the opposite direction to force a loose ball—and a steal! Frustration foul on Sledge, and the ball goes back to Masiello’s team.
11:56—Iona’s shooting 56% in the second half to Manhattan’s 29%. Pretty big disparity there, huh? Offensive foul on Sean Armand, and that’s his FOURTH foul. Unbelievable. Curtis Dennis re-enters, and all Armand can do is shake his head as he walks to the bench.
11:56—At this stage, junior Tre Bowman is the MAAC Final Player of the Game with 15 points. I’m sure we’re in for plenty more drama in the final 12 minutes, but Bowman’s contributions off the bench—especially compensating for a rough outing by Armand—has kept Cluess’ team afloat.
11:56—Blocking foul on freshman guard Rashawn Stores, and that leads to the under 12 media timeout. 39-35 Iona—five team fouls on the Jaspers, only three on Iona.
12:24—39-35 Iona, and Ridley takes a charge on an out-of-control Donovan Kates. The game is spiraling out of hand for Manhattan—can Masiello get a little offense from his Jaspers?
13:16—Brown and Laury get tied up underneath, and the foul is on Laury for instigating. That’s only the center’s first foul, however. Stores holds the ball in the backcourt for Manhattan. Brown is double-teamed by two Gaels, and he’s forced into a turnover—Iona rushes down the floor and converts with a Tre Bowman put-back of a Curtis Dennis miss—acrobatic play by Bowman. Away from the ball, Kates reached around and hit Laury in the stomach—the Iona big limps off the court, and he’s still in pain.
13:16—Manhattan’s aggression is actually getting the Jaspers in trouble—there’ve been a few occasions where the Manhattan bigs have overpursued a rebound of a missed shot, leading to an odd-man rush for Iona down the other end. The Gaels have speed to burn with Armand, Jones and Sledge, and they can scoot down the floor in the blink of an eye. Manhattan is too deep to get worn down, but sometimes aggression and hustle isn’t everything.
13:55 —Armand runs the point with Jones out of the game for a breather. Armand kicks the ball to Bowman in the left corner, and he rises over a defender and hits a game-tying three! Big night off the bench for Bowman. Missed runner by Andujar, and that sparks another fast-break—Sean Armand crosses over from left to right and slashes to the hoop—his layup is good! Timeout, Manhattan, and it’s 37-35 Iona, the Gaels’ first lead since midway through the first half.
14:32—Costly foul on Michael Alvarado, who ran into Armand as he was releasing a three. The junior missed the first of his three free throws, however, and he skips backwards in dismay. Tough outing for him so far. The second swishes through. Kates replaces Alvarado in the lineup. Third is good, so that’s two of three for Armand. 35-32 Jaspers, and Iona’s back in its press. Stores nearly has the ball thieved by Bowman. Richards is trapped by Bowman’s long defense, and the Manhattan freshman awkwardly throws the ball out of bounds. Turnover.
15:35—Iona doesn’t trap and chooses to play man-to-man. Bowman comes up with a steal in the corner, but then Armand throws the ball over the reach of Dennis and out of bounds. Cluess tells him to calm down. Alvardo runs the offense, but Laury with a flat-out exceptional block of Brown’s try down low. MoMo Jones misses a lay-up in transition, and Andujar picks up the loose ball and ignites a fast break. Richards leaks out to the corner and nails a three! 35-30 Manhattan.
15:57—Stores enters for Manhattan. Curtis Dennis bricks the first of two free throws, but his second falls through the hoop. 32-30 Jaspers lead.
15:57—No one has a strong grip of the momentum right now, and this is shaping up to be a sloppy game with a potentially exciting finish. The three fouls on Ridley and Armand of Iona must be a HUGE worry for Cluess, and I bet he wishes he had A.J. English at his disposal right now. That was a big loss mid-way through the conference season, as the Gaels’ rotation is unnervingly short. I’m not convinced that Cluess has a lot of faith in junior guard DaShawn Gomez, especially after his poor start to the game.
15:57—Under 16 timeout, 32-29 Manhattan.
16:18—The Jaspers’ Alvarado slices fearlessly into the lane and draws Ridley’s third foul. He’s subbed out immediately. Alvarado sinks both free throws. Good battle underneath by Curtis Dennis and Laury, and Rhamel Brown is whistled for a hacking foul over the top trying for a would-be block.
16:44—Alvarado slows the pace down for Manhattan. Andujar settles for a pull-up—it’s short—but Kates slips to the ground for a tie-up with Curtis Dennis. The ball stays with the Jaspers. Errant lob from Kates to Brown, and Dennis is Johnny on the spot for the interception and fast-break chance. The ball goes up to MoMo, who throws a bounce pass to Bowman on the opposite side for a lay-up.
17:20—Koita hits the second of two, and Tim Cluess oddly leaves Sean Armand in the game with three fouls. He drives hard to the rack and is challenged by Rhamel Brown— exceptional interior defense, and Armand tips the ball out of bounds—no Gaels in sight. Ridley nearly picks off the inbounds, but his momentum nearly knocks over an Iona assistant seated on the sideline.
17:37—Sean Armand finally gets on the score-sheet for Iona with a contested three from left off-center, and he’s pleased to have the monkey off his back. Diagonal drive from left to right by Koita draws a foul on Armand, and that’s his third foul. Another big moment in this game. 29-27 Manhattan, but now Koita will try two from the line. first is left short.
19:01—David Laury receives a lobbed entry from Armand, and he’s shoved in the back by Kates. Laury’s inbounds is intercepted by an alert Koita, and Manhattan takes advantage of a silly mistake by Iona to win possession. Alvarado squirms across the lane and misses a runner off-center, but Colonette is lanky enough to corral the rebound. Extra possession for Manhattan. Rhamel Brown grabs the rebound of a Koita miss, but he’s stripped when he brings the ball down to his waist.
19:50—Man-to-man for Manhattan. Laury spins into the block and earns good position, but he shuffles his feet before he can jump—the refs rightly deem it a travel. Halfcourt trap is easily broken by Alvarado, and he connects with Kates in the left corner for a three-ball that swishes through! 29-24 Manhattan.
20:00—Alvarado, Koita, Kates, Colonette and Brown start again for Manhattan, while Iona trots out its usual five. Jones will inbound from the left sideline.
Halftime—Almost just got trampled by the Iona dance team. Media members must always be wary of elbows and pom-poms.
Halftime—Big first half from Iona’s Tre Bowman off the bench with eight points. Junior and All-MAAC second-teamer Sean Armand was held scoreless in the first 20 minutes, and foul trouble only limited him by three minutes. Looks like Armand got the whole “header photo jinx” treatment.Manhattan has a slight edge in the rebounding battle, 17-14.
Halftime—10 first-half turnovers for Manhattan, and five of them are by reserve forward Emmy Andujar. We mentioned in the preview that he’d need to be a vital contributor for the Jaspers to have a chance, and he’s done little to help their cause. Though Manhattan has zero fastbreak points at the break, holding Iona to only six should be considered a major success.
Halftime—Iona hit at a 38% clip from the floor in the first half (9-24), and MoMo Jones leads all scorers with 10 at the break, capped by a pretty buzzer-beating fade-away before the intermission. For Manhattan, the Jaspers shot 37% (10-27) and are led by Rhamel Brown’s six points and four rebounds. Michael Alvarado added six points of his own.
Halftime—Manhattan 26, Iona 24.
:05—Stores chooses an odd floater with five seconds on the clock, and Iona boards and rushes down the floor with MoMo Jones—the MAAC POY pulls up and loses Stores, then sinks a buzzer-beating jumper. Momentum = Iona. Humorously, Jones sank the jumper and ran down the wrong tunnel—15 seconds later, he popped out, ran across the floor, and went to the proper locker room.
1:30—It’s still Manhattan ball, and the Jaspers lead 26-22. Iona in man-to-man—Andujar bulls down the left side of the lane this time, and MoMo steps in and takes the charge. Ryan McCoy checks in for Manhattan for the final minute and change. Jaspers in zone—Bowman’s jumper rattles out, and Brown engulfs the rebound for the Jaspers. Brown misses a difficult runner, but Tre Bowman runs smack into Colonette for a charge—two charges on three trips down the floor. The effort is certainly there for a final.
2:29—Bowman cans the second, too, and he now has eight points to tie Jones for the scoring lead. Andujar drives hard to his right, but he’s tied up by Dennis, and the ball trickles out of bounds—it’s awarded to Iona. Kates and Jones check in for the Jaspers. David Laury gets away with an obvious up-and-down, traveling violation, but he fails to convert his layup regardless. Near steal by Tre Bowman—Stores gets lucky on a bounce—and now the refs are talking over their decision of a backcourt violation on Manhattan.
3:24—Alvarado bricks a jumper after Masiello shouts at Colonette to move to the opposite corner—Sean Armand dashes down the floor but collides with the chest of Alvarado—offensive foul on Alvarado, and that’s his second personal. Curtis Dennis is set to check-in for him. Smart dump-down from Shane Richards to Brown positioned deep in the block, and he scores easily from one foot from the basket. Colonette is forced to grab Bowman after a nice dish from Laury, and Bowman is forced to earn his two from the stripe. First is good—it’s 26-21 Manhattan now.
3:43—The Iona Gael mascot—Killian—is trying to do his own “Harlem Shake,” to little effect. I spy a full Santa outfit with the Grinch’s face. A rousing cheer for the Manhattan pep band.
3:43—Under four timeout, 24-20 Manhattan. Momentum still favors Manhattan, who now has its pep band and cheerleaders and dance team doing the “Harlem Shake” for the second night in a row. Things are getting really weird on the far side of the court.
3:54—Excellent decision on the move by Alvarado, who scoots down the left baseline and finds rookie Shane Richards spotting up for three in the opposite corner—Richards swishes the wide open look, and then MoMo blows down the floor and can’t finish another lay-in. He’s just 2-for-6 from the field in an uneven performance so far.
4:15—Manhattan elects to trap MoMo Jones against the left sideline, but Jones drives hard to the right and draws a personal on Stores. Jones shoots one and one, and he cans the first. Alvarado replaces C.J. Jones in the lineup—quick breather for the Jaspers’ starting PG. Second is good too.
4:38—Jones’ runner surprisingly rims out—it was halfway down—terrific spin move by Rhamel Brown right in Ridley’s face, and his soft touch at the rim leads to another bucket. Cluess calls a full timeout, and he’s irate with his team for missed assignments and shoddy defense. The game is playing into the Jaspers’ hands. 21-18 Manhattan.
5:45—Tim Cluess applauds Bowman’s defense as he bats away a pass—great initial defense by Laury on Alvarado, but Roberto Colonette is the first to the loose ball and he scores plus the foul! Cluess gives an earful to DaShawn Gomez as he’s immediately pulled. Colonette sinks the free throw, then Shane Richards steps in for a steal. Alvarado beats Sledge cleanly off the dribble—there’s no defensive rotation from the bigs—and Alvardo lays the ball in. Tim Cluess is hollering at Sledge now after the foul, and that’s two straight and-ones for Manhattan.
6:35—Tre Bowman keeps Iona in front with a pull-up 14-footer after losing Alvarado on a shot-fake. Iona back in man-to-man—Alvarado misses a three and Jones explodes down on a one-man fast-break—Tre Bowman puts back Jones’ miss—18-13 Iona.
7:53—Hand-check foul 30-feet from the basket on Bowman. Iona still in zone—great play by Ridley to deny an entry pass to Brown, but he’s whistled for a silly foul behind the play for grabbing Rhamel Brown of Manhattan. The Iona faithful to my right are livid, shouting “wake up, ref!” and other things that aren’t quite printable. Powerful put-back dunk of a Andujar miss is slammed home with authority by Brown! Big turn of events after that away-from-the-ball foul on Ridley.
8:02—Now the game-clock is moved back to 8:02. Someone must have jittery fingers or a short attention-span. Manhattan has Brown, Andujar, Alvarado, Richards and Kates on the floor, while Iona has the usual Armand, Jones, Ridley—but also DaShawn Gomez and Tre Bowman. Jones nails both free throws as he has all tournament.
8:05—The time on the clock is changed from 8:05 to 8:02 to 7:56, so it’s clearly a problem with the manager of the game-clock, and that explains why this is the under eight timeout. 12-11 Iona.
8:05 —The referees are checking the monitor for something—we’re not entirely sure. Jones will shoot two free throws after this break—which appears to be an early media timeout? Maybe the “over eight” is a new thing for championship games. Just kidding.
8:53 —Power drive by Andujar down the left side of the lane won’t drop, but the ball ricochets off an Iona knee. Michael Alvardo bends around a screen on the inbounds, and the Manhattan leader calmly drills a triple from the left wing. Out of rhythm, Sean Armand launches a three from the left wing, but that’s off-left, and Sledge can’t save the ball for Iona. Gaels in man-to-man, and Brown has his shot altered in the paint as he backed down a Gael under the hoop—Brown tries to kick the ball out, but it’s picked off by Bowman. As usual, Jones flies to the rim in transition and draws a foul on Emmy Andujar.
9:17—Outstanding defensive play by Taaj Ridley of Iona to deflect Michael Alvarado’s skip pass to the right corner—Bowman immediately throws an outlet to Jones for an absurdly quick fast break. That’s Iona at its best—30-second timeout, Manhattan, and it’s 12-8 Gaels now.
10:46—Six turnovers so far for Manhattan, including two by Andujar. Sledge’s three is no good for Iona after a kickout from Laury—Sledge hit a big one in the second half last night to put Iona up 70-61 over Niagara. Strong take by Andujar, but his touch is off—Tre Bowman snags the board and rumbles down the floor for a coast-to-coast hoop. 10-8 Gaels.
10:46—Under 12 timeout, 8-8 tie. The style of the game favors Manhattan so far, as it’s a scrappy, low-scoring battle with lots of physicality. I’m sure Steve Masiello isn’t too thrilled with Manhattan’s careless turnovers, and Iona’s 3/4 court press has a tendency to rattle opponents.
11:36—After solving Stores off the dribble, Jones sends his runner uncharacteristically long. After another Manhattan turnover, Jones sails down the lane and leaves his runner short. He’s a few inches off in the first 10 minutes of the half. Offensive foul on Roberto Colonette, who used his elbows too aggressively on Bowman in the paint.
12:51—Laury’s floater from five feet hangs on the rim but won’t drop, and the long arms of Alvarado snag the rebound. Careless turnover by Andujar, however, and Sledge takes advantage by flying to the floor for a righty layup. Tied at 8. Shot-clock violation on Manhattan, as instead of shooting, Andujar tried to dribble through two defenders—not a smart play. Kates and C.J. Jones return for the Jaspers.
14:01—Pretty teardrop by MoMo Jones over Manhattan’s Rhamel Brown, who leaped just a split second late to try to block Jones’ floater. Alvarado travels and concedes possession. Laury—the chief target of the Iona high-post offense—turns the ball over in the right corner when he’s trapped. Cluess is furious, contending that the ball was deflected out of bounds. Smooth drop-step and right-handed finish in the lane by Emmy Andujar—it’s 8-6 Manhattan now. C.J. Jones with a silly back-court foul on Armand, and Alvarado replaces him immediately.
15:36—2-3 zone for Iona, and a tough board by Laury after a Manhattan miss from five feet. Jones shrugs off the ball screen and swings to Armand, who’s guarded tightly and poked in the face by Mo Koita—his second foul, forcing Masiello to turn to highly-touted freshman C.J. Jones off the pine. Ridley loses the ball on penetration, and he’s stripped trying to penetrate the middle of the zone—Stores sinks an unguarded three from straight-on!
15:47—Under 16 timeout, 4-3 Iona. I’m not sure why Manhattan is lofting three after three instead of using Brown constantly in the post, but the threes they’re taking are open, at least. During conference play, Manhattan ranked fifth in the MAAC in three-point percentage at 34%—that’s not exactly lights-out.
16:04—Kates’ deep three is off target, and Tavon Sledge busts out in transition and is hip-checked to the ground by Michael Alvarado. Emmy Andujar enters the game for Manhattan. Nice skip pass from Laury to MoMo Jones—baseball-style—and Jones fires a catch-and-shoot three—it’s no good, and there’s a loose-ball foul on Sean Armand.
18:06—Brown draws a help defender and finds Colonette on the weak-side, but his shot is errant again, and the loose ball rebound is awarded to Iona. Strong bounce pass from Laury to Ridley on the left block—Ridley misses, but Laury scores the putback on his third effort. 2-0 Iona. Alvarado finds Koita curling off a down screen, but Koita misses the three and Laury tears the rebound from Brown. Terrific block by Brown on Ridley’s shot, however, and Koita drains a three from the right corner at the other end. From the high post, Laury finds Ridley unguarded for an easy hoop. 4-3 Gaels.
18:46—Koita steals the inbounds, however, redeeming himself for the foul. Alvarado loses the ball on the way up on his jump stop, and Ridley starts the fast-break to Jones—MoMo loses possession on the way up, and it caroms off him out of play. Sloppy in the early going, which isn’t surprising considering the magnitude of the game.
19:56—Manhattan’s Koita comes away with the tip. Iona opens in a zone, and Koita takes a three and bricks it—Armand tries to answer from the right corner, and that’s off the rim and out. Manhattan takes back over. Colonette with a wild shot that isn’t close, but Manhattan is fortunate to come up with the loose ball for an extra possession. Kates squanders a three, and MoMo Jones explodes down in transition for Iona and draws a foul on the floor—it’s on Manhattan’s Koita.
20:00—Iona is in its home white uniforms with maroon numbers and gold trim. Manhattan sports its road forest green jerseys with white numbers and names. The Jaspers starters are already on the floor for tip—Iona is still in the huddle. Here we go!
Iona starters: MoMo Jones, Sean Armand, David Laury III, Taaj Ridley and Tavon Sledge.
Manhattan starters: Rhamel Brown, Roberto Colonette, Mohamed Koita, Michael Alvarado and Donovan Kates.
Pre-game—A little teaser for my “Best of the MAAC Tournament” post coming tomorrow—Manhattan’s pep band is the class of the MAAC by far. They have an unreal arsenal of music—for instance, they just played Trick Daddy’s “Take it to da house.” It’s unbelievably entertaining and creates a terrific atmosphere. You’ll see video of them doing the ‘Harlem Shake’ during yesterday’s semifinal.
Pre-game—The Manhattan students have now moved down to fill the section immediately behind Masiello’s bench—there will be a pretty clear home-court advantage for the Jaspers, but we’ll see if it makes any kind of difference.
Pre-game—Manhattan boasts two members of the MAAC’s All-Rookie team in Shane Richards and Rashawn Stores, while Rhamel Brown earned second-team All-MAAC honors. Iona’s MoMo Jones made the first team, Sean Armand was selected to the second and sophomore David Laury III was picked for the third team.
Pre-game—Iona is a four-point favorite, but Manhattan may have better student representation here. There are roughly 100-125 Jasper students in the general admission area about 15 rows up from the floor. The Gaels have roughly 40 students to my immediate right. Manhattan has the edge in non-student supporters, too, so expect a slight edge for the No. 6 seed.
Pre-game—The scary thing about Manhattan is that the Jaspers should be even better next year, as Beamon (left in warmups) returns from his medical red-shirt, and forward Ashton Pinkney (right, in gray)—a transfer from Maryland—will be eligible.
Pre-game—Last year, third-seeded Manhattan fell in overtime of the quarterfinals to upset-minded Siena, the six-seed, while top-seeded Iona fell to fourth-seed Fairfield in the semis.
Loyola won the tournament and represented the MAAC in the NCAA Tournament. This year, Masiello’s Jaspers knocked off the third-seeded Greyhounds in the quarterfinals.
Pre-game—Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, a Rick Pitino disciple for six years as an assistant at Louisville, is on his own for a second season with Manhattan and, despite losing leading scorer and All-MAAC Preseason first-teamer George Beamon to a serious ankle injury early in the season, he’s one win away from his first NCAA Tournament bid as head coach.
Pre-game—For a full preview of tonight’s clash, check out our Buffalo.com post here.
Pre-game—Iona’s Lamont “MoMo” Jones just hit 10 consecutive threes in warm-up, making 21-footers with the ease of a free-throw. He’s still donning a hoodie like last night, but he doesn’t look too bothered by the flu right now.
Pre-game—We’re a little less than a half-hour from the tip of the MAAC Tournament Championship game between Iona and Manhattan at the MassMutual Center in Massachusetts. The winner seizes a place in the 68-team NCAA Tournament field—the other rides home with a missed opportunity for glory.
(Header photo courtesy of Robin David Brown from the Iona vs. Niagara game from the regular season—see the full gallery here).