On paper, Manhattan’s home-opener against Bucknell seems to suggest one thing.
The Jaspers took 16 more shots than the Bison, a statistic that appears to dictate a dominance in time of possession, offensive rebounding, and consequently, in points.
But throw these assumption out of the window. Further analyzing the box score, Manhattan’s 80-67 defeat to Bucknell boiled down to two huge disparities: Manhattan was crushed on the boards 47-33 and allowed Bucknell to take 42 free throws, 22 more attempts than Manhattan.
The game was called closely—with any semblance of a foul resulting in a whistle—causing Manhattan’s head coach Steve Masiello to voice his displeasure with the officiating after the game.
“When a team takes 18 threes and you take 16 more shots than them,” Masiello said, “for there to be a plus 22 from the free throw line, with the new point of emphasis with the rules, to me, I’ve got to relearn this rule book. Obviously, what I understand it to be, with the point of emphasis of freedom of movement. … to see a differential of 42-20, you’re not going to see many of those.”
The fouls began early in the first half as Manhattan found itself in the penalty with 12 minutes still to play. But it wasn’t a problem just yet because despite the fouls, the Jaspers still held an 18-14 lead.
Behind its signature energy and aggressiveness the team has been known for under Masiello, the Jaspers stretched the lead to 26-21.
But then that energy and aggressiveness the Jaspers had used to their advantage for the first 12 to 13 minutes of the half, turned into vices.
Over-aggressiveness led to silly fouls, which led to Bucknell knocking down 14 of 16 free throw attempts to go into halftime up 43-36.
Three of the 14 first-half fouls by Manhattan belonged to Thomas Capuano, who in his second collegiate game played an impressive 19 minutes. The freshman guard hit four of his five shot attempts for 10 points, but it was his hustle on defense, diving for loose balls and locking down on his opponent, which stood out.
However, his three fouls in the first half led to five points for Bucknell, a reality Capuano wished he would’ve avoided.
“I think they’ve gone alright,” Capuano said about his first two games in college. “Not how we’ve wanted them to be. There’s been a lack of discipline on a lot of plays, where I just have to watch the film and really cut down on the mistakes that I’m making, but we can build on it.”
Some of those mistakes, the fouls, Masiello believes the whole team was guilty of.
“I think we made some foolish fouls,” Masiello said. “I would say we made about nine foolish fouls. But my whole thing is that I think guys were getting hit on a lot of shots for us and it just wasn’t getting called. … If you’re going to call it that way I’m fine with that, but you have to call it on both ends. … But you don’t make excuses, give them credit.”
At the start of the second half, the fouls were no longer the problem for the Jaspers. It was their vaunted defense.
Bucknell stretched its lead to 59-45, for what was the largest lead of the game at the time.
The Jaspers came back on several occasions, cutting the deficit to eight at 63-55 and then to seven at 64-57.
But the Jaspers just couldn’t sustain their runs. Whenever they gained some momentum, either Bucknell would hit a key shot, or a borderline foul would disrupt the flow of the game.
Down 76-66 with less than two minutes to play, Shane Richards missed an open three, which Bucknell turned into a transition layup to go up 78-66 and put the game to rest. The Bison would defeat the Jaspers 80-67 to drop the Jaspers to 0-2 in the season.
Shane Richards scored a career-high 28 points to go along with six rebounds and three steals. However, the senior played all 40 minutes, which played a part in his poor 8-21 shooting on the night.
However, Richards would not admit to fatigue after the game.
“I just missed some shots,” Richards said. “I’m not sure if fatigue played a part. I really don’t know.”
But before Richards could finish his sentence, Masiello interrupted and took the blame for Richards’ poor shooting night.
“I think it did,” Masiello said about fatigue affecting Richards. “That’s unfair to him. I didn’t set him up for success tonight. You can’t play 40 minutes in this league. He won’t say that. … I didn’t help Shane tonight and he helped me. I have to do a better job. I have to find a way to, even if it’s down to 36, that makes a big deal.”
The Jaspers next take on George Mason at Draddy Gymnasium on Wednesday, for a rematch of last year’s thrilling contest, which ended in a game-winning 75-foot shot from George Mason’s Jalen Jenkins.