Friday, February 29, 2008

Must Win Tonight

I first would like to apologize for the lack of blog posts over the past couple weeks....midterms have hit hard and I have been very busy. With that, lets get back to business.

Tonight the struggling Red Foxes take on Iona at McCann in what is a desperation game for Marist. Losers 6 of their last 7, the Red Foxes are mired in a 3 game losing skid that includes a heartbreaking double overtime loss against Fairfield and an embarrassing Bracketbuster loss to Clevland State.

However, the Red Foxes return home to some good news. Louie McCroskey, the Foxes scoring-minded shooting guard will return tonight from a fractured right foot which has sidelined him since January 17 against Loyola.

Without McCroskey, the Red Foxes have lacked a go-to scorer and have had trouble filling his offensive void. Since going down, the Red Foxes MAAC dreams have as well, as they have gone 4-6 and have dropped in the standings from 1st to 6th.

McCroskey, since transferring from 'Cuse has been a bit of a disappointment. The highly talented senior guard has missed significant time this season with injury's and eligibility issues. However, his return is more then welcomed for the Foxes, as their MAAC tournament hopes hinge on his ability to be the consistent scoring threat he can be (see Holiday tournament at the Garden) and help rejuvenate a lifeless Marist team.

With two game left (Iona tonight and Loyola for Sunday's Senior Day) the 6th place Foxes need to win both. At the moment they are only 2/12 games out of first in the crowded MAAC, and while a first place finish is impossible, if the Red Foxes can win out they could end up with a 4 or 5 seed heading into the tournament.


Under Review

Yeah its old news...but February 19 double overtime loss to was filled with terrible calls, including one that cost the Red Foxes the game. With 2.6 left and the game tied at 72, a Fairfield player called for what was an obvious time out and the official blew his whistle. The only problem was that Fairfield had no more time outs, and instead of the ref calling a technical foul, Chris Webber style, he decided to meet up with his fellow refs and come up with an alternate reason to why he blew the whistle...and he did, sending the game into OT.

If the right call is made on that play, the Red Foxes almost certainly win the game on a couple foul shots(like James Smith last season) which would have given then an all important
MAAC win and certainly a boost of confidence which they have been lacking down the stretch of the season.

Also, the clocks stopped on a play in the final moments of the game, giving the Stags more time to score. On a another play, a foul was called agaisnt Stilfphen on a Han 3-point shot...the only problem was Stilf was the one who came away with a bloody nose.....Conspiracy anyone?

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."

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Over and Out

Two weeks, three big games, and zero wins to show. That was the story last night at McCann as the Marist Red Foxes suffered a devastating overtime loss to arch rival Siena on ESPNU. The loss was the Foxes 3rd straight (Rider, Siena, Siena) dropping them into a 4th place tie in the MAAC standings.

The Red Foxes failed to take advantage of the key part of their schedule, they began the stretch in first place and after the loss Friday, find themselves in the middle of the conference. Now at 8-5, they will have to battle through the remaining games of MAAC play to get at least the 4th seed for the tournament (I say at least because that is what they'll need to have any chance in March).

However, they HAVE been playing extremely hard and extremely well against heavily talented teams and last night's game was by far the Foxes most exciting game since they knocked off the Saints last year in Overtime Thriller Part I.

A raucous, whiteout, sellout crowd saw six ties and six lead changes at McCann, where the energy is like no other in the MAAC. The Red Foxes charged a thunderous comeback, trailing at one point 25-12 and cutting the deficit to 4 before the end of the first.

In the second, Marist could not hold on to a 7 point lead and guard Kenny Hasbrouck killed the Red Foxes down the stretch. With his game high 35 points, Hasbrouck had the game-tying bucket in the final seconds and stole the ball from Jay Gavin with 2.2 left to send it into OT. In the extra period, Hasbrouck led the way with two dagger 3's as the Saints outlasted Marist 97-88.

The crowd was electric and deafening the entire game and the 'McCann Crazys' were tough on Siena players. "There was a lot of energy," Hasbrouck told the Poughkeepsie Journal. "The fans were talking a lot."

But Hasbrouck and the Saints got the final say as Siena won for only the second time in 9 years at McCann.

The Red Foxes have come a long way since the start of the season and as of late, have been going toe-to-toe with better teams (Rider, Siena). The growth is surprising considering how young their guards are. However, while Goodwin and Gavin have played well and really helped the Foxes the last couple weeks, their turnovers have also killed them.

Last night the two had a combined 7 turnovers.....the entire Siena team only had 8 for the game. The Red Foxes for the game had 18 ... that was your ballgame, that was the difference.

"The turnovers are bizarre to me," Brady told the Poughkeepsie Journal. It's an Achilles heel with this group. I'll give you my e-mail address, if you have an answer for it, hit me up."

Friday, February 1, 2008

Overmatched Against Rider

The Red Foxes knew that it would be a very difficult game going into Wednesday's match-up against first place Rider, who is ranked 25th in Mid-Majors.... and that was before the news broke that big man Spongy Benjamin would be out with the flu. A depleted Red Fox team struggled to keep up with Rider in what would be a 79-65 pounding at McCann, thier first home loss of the season.

Without Spongy to counter Riders star big man Jason Thompson, the MAAC's second leading scorer, Marist had a world of trouble trying to defend Thompson in the post. Shea, Stilphen, and freshman Korey Bauer (who really struggled) were the best that coach Brady could throw out there against Thompson, who finished with 20 points and 9 boards.
Jason Thompson
The 6-11 Thompson, who has turned into one of the top rated big men in the entire NCAA, had Cleveland Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry on hand scouting him out. Thompson has been projected by some to be a late first/early second round pick in this years NBA draft.

There were some things that I loved about Thompson’s game and other areas that I felt were lacking. Overall, I felt that he may have been a little over hyped. Things to love about Thompson’s game are that he can flat-out score the basketball. He has surprising range on his jump shot and plays with fierce intensity the entire game on both ends of the floor. He is a leader both vocally and by example and has a world of potential being an athletic, near 7-foot big man.

The major thing he needs to work on is to solidify his post game. Don't get me wrong he dominated in the post, but that was against a lack luster, overmatched Red Fox frontline. Even with the soft Marist post defense, Thompson missed several open lay-ups early on. With a 6-11, 250 pound frame, Thompson should be drop stepping and dunking on inferior post players every time down the floor. However, Thompson is still learning how to play as a center. In his freshman year, he was only 6'7 (only). That means that NBA scouts love his potential, as he will continue to develop into a forceful big.