Men's Basketball

The Road to the MAAC: Stopping the Scorers

Billy Baron, left, is a strong candidate for MAAC Player of the Year. George Beamon, center, is also in the running. Photo taken by James O'Connor.

Billy Baron, left, is a strong candidate for MAAC Player of the Year. George Beamon, center, is also in the running. Photo taken by James O’Connor.

On “The Road to the MAAC,” the Jaspers may have to pull over and refill the tank.

The Jaspers started 8-0 on the road – the best road record in the nation at the time – but have dropped their last three road games since. Winning won’t get much easier when they take the seven hour trip to Buffalo, N.Y. to face Billy Baron and first place Canisius.

The game against Canisius will be the first of a three game road trip for Manhattan – its first three game road stretch since Feb. 2012 – as they also take on Niagara for the first time and Rider for the second time.

A Manhattan team has not won all three games of a road stretch since January 2007.

Baron and Niagara’s Antoine Mason, the two highest scorers in the league, will be a focus point for the Manhattan defense. Although the Jaspers aren’t having their best stretch of the season, Steve Masiello’s history with defending superstars should be a sign of what to expect on this three game road trip.

On the Road Again…

Points Per Game

MAAC Ranking

NCAA Ranking

Billy Baron (Canisius)

24.0

2nd

4th

Antoine Mason(Niagara)

26.6

1st

1st

Anthony Myles(Rider)

18.0

5th

T-84th

*Stats as of Feb. 2.

Masiello has instilled defense into his program since day one, and has a reputation for making superstars look mediocre. The two times Baron has faced Manhattan, he has nearly been a non-factor.

In the first meeting, a Canisius 64-60 victory, Baron scored just 10 points and turned the ball over a whopping seven times.

In the second meeting, a Manhattan 67-54 victory, Baron scored just 14 points on 3-10 shooting and turned the ball over four times.

Baron, however, has been on a whole other level this season. He’s scored over 30 points five times, and at least 20 points in 17 of his 23 games this season.

Mike Alvarado, who has guarded Baron, Scott Machado, Lamont Jones, and other great MAAC players before, will be mainly responsible for containing Baron, although it will take a team effort. Baron has NBA range, which is just one of the reasons why he is so talented.

Manhattan has yet to beat a top three team in the MAAC, but the matchup against Canisius can change that.

As for Antoine Mason’s prowess, the Jaspers should be able to keep the Purple Eagles in check. Although Mason has been having a spectacular season, Niagara hasn’t been the beneficiary. They have just three conference wins, and have been awful on defense giving up a league worst 82.1 points per game.

In Mason’s three career games against the Jaspers, he has yet to top 20 points. Even if Mason were to have a big game, which is unlikely with Manhattan’s defensive history, Niagara will still have trouble stopping George Beamon and Alvarado on offense.

Stopping Anthony Myles of Rider will also be another challenge for Manhattan in its final game of the road trip. The Jaspers should be able to find success though: they held the Bronc’s best player to just nine points in the two teams’ first meeting this season, a 67-51 Jasper victory.

In Myles’ seven career games against the Jaspers, he has yet to score over 15 points.

Manhattan has found success defending scoring guards in the past, but they Masiello will have to scheme against one of the best players he has coached against in Baron. The road stretch will reveal a lot about the Jaspers’ character as they go through a rough patch in the season.