THE LATEST

The Road to the MAAC: The End of an Era

From left to right: Rhamel Brown, Michael Alvarado, and George Beamon - the only Manhattan senior class to have three 1,000 point scorers - pose for a picture as they get honored for their time as Jaspers. Photo taken by James O'Connor

From left to right: Rhamel Brown, Michael Alvarado, and George Beamon – the only Manhattan senior class to have three 1,000 point scorers – pose for a picture as they get honored for their time as Jaspers. Photo taken by James O’Connor

After a loss at Siena last week and some Iona wins over the weekend, Manhattan is unlikely to win the MAAC regular season title. Manhattan would need to win its final two games, and have Iona and Quinnipiac lose its final three and two games respectively. Even if those were to oddly happen, Manhattan would need Canisius to be the third highest seed to win the tiebreaker with Iona.

In the MAAC’s 32 years of existence, the regular season champion has gone on to win the MAAC Tournament 16 times.

The highly anticipated matchup between rivals Manhattan and Iona on ESPNU on Feb. 28 will most likely mean no more than a tune-up game for Iona and a higher seed for Manhattan.

The final matchup of the season for Manhattan against Canisius on March 2, however, will mark the end of an era for Manhattan basketball fans.

On March 2, seniors Rhamel Brown, George Beamon and Michael Alvarado – all born and raised in New York – will play their last game in Draddy Gymnasium.

Draddy, a small, aircraft hangar-like building that squeezes in roughly 2,500 people, holds many memories for the trio of seniors and for Manhattan fans. Here are just a few.

In the trio’s first year together in a game against Siena on Feb. 13, 2011, Jasper fans watched Beamon transcend right in front of their eyes. The Jaspers were 4-21 at the time, Alvarado was hurt and Beamon was averaging a modest 14 points a game.

However, none of that mattered on that Sunday afternoon in Riverdale as Beamon dropped a career high 35 points to carry the Jaspers to only their fifth win of the season. It marked a turning point for Beamon’s career.

Beamon 2

Beamon went on to average 22 points in his final five games of his sophomore season and led the MAAC in scoring the next season as the Jaspers won 15 more games in 2011-2012, the biggest turnaround in Division I basketball.

Then, in the beginning of the 2012-2013 season, Beamon went down. Beamon only played five games and sat the rest of the season to heal a severely sprained ankle.

But Brown was there to pick up the Jaspers.

On Feb. 15, 2013, fans packed Draddy for a game televised on ESPNU against Iona. Iona was the highest scoring team in the country, and had one of the highest individual scorers in the country in Lamont Jones.

Brown, however, was the real superstar on that Friday night. With 11 seconds left in the second overtime, the Jaspers were down two and Alvarado was at the free-throw line. He made the first to bring the Jaspers within one, but missed the second.

Brown got the rebound, the Jaspers passed the ball around and then Emmy Andujar made a nice spin move to the basket and scored. The clock hit triple zeroes and Manhattan fans stormed the court to celebrate with the players. Brown finished that game with a ridiculous 21 points, 17 rebounds, and seven blocks.

Finally, this season in a game against Siena on Jan. 16, Beamon was healing a hurt shoulder and watched from the sidelines.

Alvarado was there this time to pick up his teammates on that Thursday night in Draddy. In the first half, Alvarado went up for what would otherwise be another two points. But it wasn’t another two points. It brought Alvarado to over 1,000 points in his career. When the monitor displayed Alvarado’s picture next to 1,000 points, everyone stood up and cheered.

IMG_1033

Alvarado was too busy directing the huddle in the timeout to notice.

Three games later, in a game against Quinnipiac on Jan. 19 where all three seniors were playing, Brown made history that Sunday afternoon in the Bronx. The Jaspers lost, but Brown surpassed the 1,000 point mark and Brown, Beamon and Alvarado became the first three active players to score 1,000 points in Manhattan basketball history.

The seniors have all accomplished a lot. Brown is a two time MAAC Defensive Player of the Year and was Second Team All-MAAC in 2013. Beamon led the MAAC in scoring in 2011-2012 and was also named First Team All-MAAC that same year. Alvarado was named All-MAAC Rookie Team in 2011 and was an All-MAAC Third Team selection in 2012.

But there is just one thing missing from the trio’s resumes: a MAAC Championship.

The seniors have all gone through a lot. Alvarado missed the MAAC Tournament in 2011 when he injured his eye and Beamon missed most of the 2012-2013 season when he hurt his ankle.

Now, they are all healthy in the final stretch of their collegiate careers.

The trio will surely compete for a championship this season, but they will have to say goodbye to Draddy Gymnasium, “The Sixth Borough,” “Jasper Nation,” and even the “Jasper Jungle” first on this Sunday afternoon.

The trio may go on to have success in the MAAC Tournament and maybe even in the NCAA Tournament. But for the three kids who were all born and raised in New York and helped turn around a struggling New York City basketball program, Sunday afternoon will mark the end of an era in Draddy Gymnasium.

IMG_3510

%d bloggers like this: