Jon Reyes & Daniel Ynfante
Sports Editor & Assistant Sports Editor
Exhibition games are exhibition games for a reason. They’re used to test out lineups, plays, and see what works and what doesn’t. The final score matters very little.
And while it is tough to justify Manhattan College’s 89-86 loss to Adelphi University — a Division II school — it was an exhibition game that served both as a reminder of what Manhattan has to work on and what positives it has going for it.
No. 1: 3-point Defense Must Improve
When a team shoots 18-36 from 3-point range, it is difficult to judge how much of that was the team catching a hot hand, or the opposing team playing poor defense.
In Manhattan’s case, it was a little bit of both. Some of Adelphi’s threes were open, some were contested and some had such a high degree of difficulty that all Manhattan could do is tip its cap and jog back on offense.
Led by Manny Suarez and Michael Coffey, who combined for 12 of Adelphi’s 18 3-pointers, Adelphi put on a show from behind the arc that culminated in a game winning 3-pointer from Coffey from 30 feet.
“They made some tough shots,” Steve Masiello, Manhattan’s head coach, said. “They really did. But we didn’t have our depth to wear them down and that’s part of it. But give them credit. They shot the ball very well.”
The lack of depth for Manhattan was a key reason why Adelphi was able to get some open shots. Manhattan is used to playing a 10, sometimes 11-man rotation with players going out on the floor for three to four minute stretches of intense, hard-nosed action. However, only eight players dressed on the night, as the other six sat out resting nagging injuries. The lack of depth resulted in fatigue, which made it difficult for it to close out on some shots.
In the season opener against St. Mary’s next Monday, that will no longer be an excuse, as Manhattan will have its depth back. St. Mary’s is a similar team to Adelphi, who likes to space the floor and shoot from the perimeter. Masiello knows that this game will only help correct the poor perimeter defense.
“This is just how St. Mary’s plays,” he said. “Five out, they shoot it, they move it. In our style, it’s almost impossible to play 29 minutes and we had guys gutting it out for 38. So I was so happy with our effort and mentality. I thought we fought. I just thought we were tired and defensively we weren’t good because we weren’t fresh.”
No. 2: Shane Richards is Ready to Take on a Bigger Role
When Michael Alvarado, George Beamon and Rhamel Brown graduated two years ago, the question was: who will replace Manhattan’s scoring production?
[insert Emmy Andujar and Ashton Pankey]
But now Andujar and Pankey are gone, and the question is once again: who will replace its offense?
[insert Shane Richards]
Exhibition games are to be taken with a grain of salt, but there is no denying that Richards’ performance against Adelphi was impressive. The senior scored 38 points on just 18 shots, while knocking down a whopping 16 of 17 free throw attempts.
Perhaps the most exciting part about his 38 points was the way in which he got them. He scored on left-handed layups, drives to the baskets, shots from within the 3-point line, free throws and of course, his money shot, the 3-pointer. Last season, he improved his game and became more than just a 3-point scoring threat, and if this game is any indication, it looks like he has gotten even better.
Although the result of the game wasn’t what he expected, he is glad to get it out of the way and start the season. A season in which he looks poised for big things.
“It feels great to be back,” he said. “Not so much right now, but it will when we play St. Mary’s.”
No. 3: Composure? Uh, Uh, It’s All In The Family
As Adelphi inbounded and ran the ball down-court with four seconds remaining in a tie game, Coffey, who to that point had made seven of his 15 3-point attempts, received a pass from a teammate and knew he had to “stay composed.” He did, and swished his eighth three of the night to win in a surprisingly fired up atmosphere for an exhibition.
“If you need a shot, Mike’s always there,” David Duke, Adelphi’s head coach, said. “Ice goes through his veins, he wants the ball in big spots.”
“Coach has taught us to be settled in these situations,” Coffey said. “[Manhattan] made a run. They’re a great team; historical program; defending MAAC champions, so you would expect that. … This was a great opportunity for us. A lot of guys, including the seniors, have never been able to play in an exhibition like this. It was just kind of an honor to be here, and we wanted to make the most of it.”
Despite being on the losing side of the game, Manhattan was within striking distance all throughout, which includes the comeback at the end to knot the score at 86 on Rich Williams’ free-throws. This was done without Carlton Allen, Calvin Crawford, Jermaine Lawrence, Ak Ojo, RaShawn Stores and Samson Usilo.
It didn’t need composure, as Adelphi may need, it needed each other. Those on the floor in the final minutes huddled up together to nearly pull out a win it looked like it wouldn’t be able to achieve for the majority of the game. That’s a quality and attribute that Richards said is “really important” to carry throughout the rest of the upcoming season, but he’s seen it before.
“That’s something that I’ve seen happen in my three years, now my fourth,” he said “… That’s just kind of what we do. We’ve always come from behind, and play well when we’re down.”
“It goes to the character of these young men,” Masiello said. “It’s more about them. What their DNA, fabric [and] material is. These kids are not going to run [or] hide. They’re going to take it on the chin– but that’s their upbringing, who they are. You’re talking, for the most part, about kids who have had nothing easy, handed to them. They work for everything they’ve got, and that’s their mindset. And right now they know they’ve got two MAAC trophies that they got to protect when they take the court every night.”