Monday, February 18, 2008

Marist Crushed

It was hard to believe that Friday's Red Fox team was the same one we have seen all season. But this was no case of mistaken identity, as the Red Foxes got crushed against a Manhattan team that was 3-11 this season in the MAAC. The 83-62 beat down was the worst conference loss and perhaps the worst timed loss of the season. As the Red Foxes are battling to stay at the top tier of the conference with only 3 games and an ESPNU Bracketbuster game left, every game is vital at this point.

The good news is that over the weekend both Rider and Siena lost, leaving room for the Red Foxes who are 2 games back, to make a late season run.

A source close to the team said that the feeling inside Coach Brady's locker room is that the Red Foxes have to win out to have any chance this March in the MAAC Tournament. If the Red Foxes win out, they have a good chance of finishing in the top 3 of the conference, which the source said is "a must" to avoid playing one of the tougher teams in the first round.

The Red Foxes play Fairfield tonight.

This is an article on the game from Saturday's
New York Daily News...

Manhattan blasts Marist


Saturday, February 16th 2008, 4:00 AM

There wasn't a lot to gain for Manhattan heading into Friday night's MAAC contest with Marist, at least as far as their standing in the conference.

With eighth place all but locked up, meaning no first-round bye in the MAAC tournament next month in Albany, the Jaspers were looking for more intangible benefits. A boost in confidence, erasing the memory of an ugly January and a renewed sense that they, despite their 3-11 conference mark, could actually play with the more gifted teams in the conference.

Friday night Manhattan achieved all those goals as Darryl Crawford poured in a career-high 24 points off the bench and freshman guard Chris Smith posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds as Manhattan surprised Marist, 83-62, Friday night before a crowd 1,734 at Draddy Gym.

The win gives Manhattan (10-15, 4-11 in MAAC) more wins this month (the Jaspers are 2-2) than in the entire forgettable month of January, when the Jaspers limped to a 1-8 finish.

But with Denver Nuggets star J.R. Smith in the stands - he's the older brother of Manhattan's Chris Smith - the Jaspers jumped on the Red Foxes (15-11, 9-6) early in the second half and what was once a 35-31 Manhattan lead at halftime quickly grew into a 60-39 Jaspers lead with 9:21 to play.

It was a surge by the Jaspers that didn't exactly surprise Marist coach Matt Brady.

"I felt this coming," Brady said. "Manhattan clearly outplayed us and we put ourselves in a big hole. We had a hard time defending them. (Draddy Gym) is a difficult place for us to play."

But despite the sizable hole the Red Foxes found themselves in, they were down but not out. In fact, they staged a furious rally over a four-minute span as they outscored Manhattan, 17-3, to pull within 63-56 with 5:12 to play. It was a reminder to the Jaspers of their game last week when they let a 12-point second half lead against Fairfield evaporate in a game Manhattan ended up losing, 66-61.

"Once we were in the huddle, coach (Barry Rohrssen) reminded us of last week's game," said Crawford, who hit 7-of-10 from the field and 9-of-14 from the foul line. "He told us to just keep going hard and to buckle down on defense."

Which the Jaspers did, allowing Marist to score just six points in the final 5:00 while Manhattan posted 20 - including nine from Crawford - to turn what had become a nail-biter into a laugher.

"We just had to come from too far back," Brady said.

Rohrssen said it was the way the Jaspers dug in when Marist made its run that he was most impressed with.

"We brought up in the locker room about playing a 40-minute game," Rohrssen said. "We also brought up in a huddle that just one week ago in the Fairfield game we were up a dozen points (and lost). We need to grow as a team and we need to learn as a team. We asked them in the huddle 'How much did you learn in one week and how much did we grow in one week?"

Enough, it turned out, to topple a solid Marist team.

For Smith, having his NBA-star brother on hand added to the Jaspers huge win last night.

"It was crazy," Smith said. "Before the game he said score a lot of points. But I said, 'No, I just going to do what I do every game: get my teammates involved and hit the backboards."

It's the kind of win the Jaspers say can pay big dividends in the confidence department as the regular season winds down and with the MAAC tournament on the horizon.

"This is a big confidence booster," said Smith, who also logged three steals in the win. "We struggled some earlier this year but now I think we're starting to jell."

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