For nearly 32 games during the season, a halftime box score for Manhattan had Emmy Andujar, Ashton Pankey or Shane Richards at the helm.
But on the 33rd game of the season, a First Four encounter against Hampton, the halftime box score was different. Two freshmen, Calvin Crawford and Zane Waterman, had their best performances for the most important game of the season and led Manhattan in the first half.
In a game where Andujar and Pankey picked up two early fouls and had to sit out most of the first half, Crawford and Waterman rose to the occasion. They combined for 12 of Manhattan’s 31 points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot in the half.
“It was just a glimpse of what me and Calvin can actually do when given the minutes,” Waterman says about his and Crawford’s performance against Hampton. “I feel like it wasn’t really a different mentality. It was the same mentality, just more opportunities to show what we can do.
Crawford and Waterman are just two of the four freshmen that comprise the recruiting class of 2014. They are also the only two that saw playing time this season. Samson Usilo sat out the entire season due to an injury and Samson Akilo was never given any court time.
Although Crawford and Waterman earned minutes, it wasn’t significant.
Crawford played eight minutes per game and averaged two points and two rebounds. Waterman played eight minutes per game and averaged four points and two rebounds. But despite low minute and statistical totals, both showed flashes of their potential albeit inconsistent.
At times during the season, when Waterman checked into the game he showed off his long-range shooting ability and ability to stretch the floor. On the defensive end, he drew charges and gritty.
Crawford also showed off his ability to shoot the ball, put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim.
The limited action Crawford saw was a difficult adjustment he had to make because he’s used to starting his whole life, he says.
“I understood my role that I was playing behind Emmy, Crawford says, “and I just used that to my advantage and just got better in practice every day.”
For Rasheen Davis, Manhattan associate head coach, says the limited playing time for the freshmen is something he sees as a matter of circumstances.
“If they were at a school or a situation where we weren’t winning or didn’t have a culture, you probably would have got to see what they are capable of doing,” Davis says. “But because the way our minutes were structured, we had to play all the guys that were ahead of them and they had to wait their turn.”
As for Usilo and Akilo, Davis says they will have some adjusting to do during next season, but are more than capable of doing it.
“You just have to keep working,” Davis says about what Usilo and Akilo must do. “You look at Donovan Kates and if Donovan got down on himself, I don’t know if we get a chance to play Hampton. He didn’t have the best year, but when we needed him most he stepped up and he is the reason why we beat Iona.”
Crawford and Waterman will likely have an expanded role on the team next season as Andujar, Kates and RaShawn Stores are all graduating.
Although the seniors’ departure might indicate better individual opportunities for Crawford and Waterman, they are focused on just one thing.
“I expect to win another MAAC Championship,” Waterman says. “That’s really all I expect.”