CHRIS CIRILLO & DANIEL YNFANTE SENIOR WRITER & ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
Emmy Andujar Continues to Lead the Cavalry
All season long the Jaspers have counted on Emmy Andujar to score big baskets, distribute the ball and be a pest on defense. His numbers solidify him as a do-it-all type of player and that was never more apparent than against Canisius.
Andujar scored a team-high 20 points and fell just one rebound and three assists shy of the first triple-double in Manhattan’s history. He also stepped up on the defensive end, blocking a shot and recording two steals.
But despite the aura that is attached to being the first in the school’s history to record a triple-double, Andujar was not even aware of what he could have accomplished.
“I didn’t even know that honestly,” Anudjar said. “But I just go out there just play my game and just let the game flow to me and then just go out there and play to get this win.”
Andujar has flirted with a triple-double on several occasions this season. The closest he came was a 15 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists performance on Dec. 7 against Marist.
Even if the script stays the same and Andujar keeps falling a couple of rebounds and assists short of that elusive triple-double, the fact that he is even coming close to that mark remains impressive.
The Jaspers do not need Andujar to flirt with a triple-double on a nightly basis, but performances close to tonight’s are only a benefit to the team.
Manhattan Still Adjusting to Foul Calls
Head coach Steve Masiello has said all year that he is not out to criticize the refs, but rather continue to learn how they decide calls.
With Manhattan’s aggressive style of play on the defensive end, it becomes vulnerable to fouls. How those fouls are called, however, has puzzled Masiello all season.
Manhattan had 24 total fouls, but 19 of them came in the second half against Canisius.
“We play the same for 40 minutes,” Masiello said. “So what I’m trying to figure out is how are you at the line six times in the first half but 25 in the second. Again, we didn’t change our style. I don’t have that answer. But I have to study that on film and observe it.”
In the game against Siena last week, Manhattan fouled 20 times. It was not the number that concerned Masiello, but rather the reasoning behind it.
“We have a tough time understanding how – and this isn’t a knock on refereeing – this is us just trying to be students. What we’re trying to understand is when it’s 50 feet out and you put your hand on him, that’s a foul,” Masiello said.
“But when it’s two feet from the rim, there’s clubbings, and that’s not a foul. And we’re trying to grasp and learn to improve because I’m always from a teaching standpoint. I never criticize referees because their job is hard. We’re trying to understand from a teaching standpoint, what’s the teaching point? How can I teach my guys? But listen, if that’s the way the refs are calling, we have to adjust and we understand that.
Rich Williams on Fire off the Bench
Rich Williams was at the top of the key when he tried to make an entry pass to Ashton Pankey. It was a terrible pass but an incredible shot as it somehow made its way through the hoop for three points to extend Manhattan’s lead over Siena.
It was that kind of a game for Williams, who scored a career high 16 points.
Just last week, Williams told head coach Steve Masiello that he thought the bench production was a little flat. Masiello responded by bringing Williams off the bench and the Jaspers haven’t lost since.
Sure, it’s only been four games, but Williams has had the best four game stretch of his young career. Williams averaged just 4.6 points per game in the starting lineup, but has averaged 10 points per game coming off the bench the last four games.
It’s not the first time he has come off the bench this season, but he has elevated the bench production.
“I think what’s happened with Rich is he said ‘you know what, I’m not worried about any of this stuff [media hype and criticism],’” Masiello said about Williams reading too far into the media.
“He’s gown up. He’s playing for the man next to him now. So I love him for that. I think he’s been a new man. I think the pressure is off him, and he’s playing the game for the right reasons.”
Jaspers Playing Their Best Basketball During Important Stretch of the Season
Masiello has reiterated the same statement throughout the season. What matters is how the team is playing come February and March.
With the MAAC Tournament just 29 days away, the Jaspers are playing their best basketball just at the right time.
The team is averaging 77.1 points per game on offense over the last eight games and while the defense has been a bit of an issue during that stretch, it was not against Canisius.
Manhattan held Canisius to 31 percent shooting from the floor and turned them over 20 times.
The win against Canisius marks the fourth consecutive victory for Manhattan. The team is riding high heading into two of the most important games of the season.
In consecutive games, the Jaspers will face off against the two teams directly in front of them in the standings in Rider and Iona respectively.
For Masiello, the importance of getting a win against Canisius was magnified given the daunting schedule that awaits the team.
“This was one of the best wins we’ve ever had since I’ve been here,” Masiello said. “One of the best wins for this reason: We just had a great win at Monmouth. Now most immature teams look ahead to Rider, revenge game. Then you hear one of their [Canisius] top players is out. Most teams, ‘oh we got this. Let’s exhale, relax.'”
“This is one of the best wins and we talk about being lions, we were lions tonight. We were lions tonight. We came out with urgency. We didn’t wait to get hit, we hit. This is a trap game. This is what you call the major trap game. We didn’t fall prey to them and I’m really proud of the maturity of this team.”