#126 Manhattan Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Manhattan Jaspers
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #126
Conference Rank: #3 MAAC
 Manhattan Logo
Manhattan will want to forget about the 2016-2017 campaign as quickly as possible. The Jaspers won just ten games overall and five in MAAC play. This team had more talent than a ten win team and now the hope is their experience and senior heavy rotation will help turn things around. One of those seniors that Manhattan did not have last season is Rich Williams. The 6-5 guard averaged 14.8 points and 6.0 rebounds during the 2015-2016 campaign and he was really missed last year. Williams can shoot the ball efficiently, but will do most of his damage with his 6-5 frame attacking the basket. His ability to rebound from the wing should also drastically improve Manhattan’s negative rebounding margin from a year ago.
2016-17 Record: 10-22, 5-14
2016-17 Postseason: None
Coach: Steve Masiello
Coach Record: 102-93 at Manhattan, 102-93 overall
Who’s Out:
Tyler Wilson, Na’Quan Council, Zavier Peart and Ahmed Ismail and were all part of Coach Steve Masiello’s ten player rotation. Wilson saw the most minutes with 21.5 per game, but the 6-0 guard averaged just 2.2 points per game. His defense will certainly be missed though. Council proved to be a solid defender during his freshman campaign, but he was not much of a threat on the other end of the court. He could have developed into a major contributor at Manhattan, but has transferred instead. Ismail and Peart added depth to the frontcourt. Ismail was especially productive on the glass and on the defensive end.
Who’s In:
Junior college transfer Pauly Paulicap headlines a group of five newcomers. Paulicap spent one season at Harcum College where he averaged 9.3 points and 7.3 rebounds. He should immediately help do the dirty work in the paint. The frontcourt also adds Warren Williams and Ebube Ebube. Williams, a 6-7, 220 pounder, can score in the paint and Ebube is a big 6-9 forward who can stretch the defense with his outside shooting ability. All three bring something different to the frontcourt and there is a need for all three skillsets, but expect Paulicap with his experience to grab the most minutes right away. The hope is that Patrick Strzala and Nehemiah Mack will add some scoring punch to a team that struggled to put the ball in the basket. Strzala is a superb shooter and has the size and strength to finish around the basket as well. Mack is a combo guard who, like Strzala, was a big time prep scorer. And having scoring options off the bench will be extremely beneficial to this team.
Who to Watch:
Manhattan does return their top five scorers so there are expectations that the offense can improve without too much help from the newcomers. Zavier Turner led the team with 14.9 points and 3.3 assists during his first season with Manhattan after transferring in from Ball State. For his senior season, Turner needs to emerge as more of a leader on the floor and do a better job of taking care of the basketball. Manhattan ranked dead last in the MAAC in turnovers per game and 344th in the nation. That number must improve. Aaron Walker had a very promising freshman campaign in which he averaged 8.9 points. He never really found his outside shooting touch, but Walker can still score. Thomas Capuano started 24 games last season, but could lose his starting spot to Rich Williams. Whether he is starting or not, Capuano can hit some three-pointers. Samson Usilo was not one of the top scorers last season, but he showed plenty of promise late in his sophomore season. Zane Waterman and Calvin Crawford are a very dangerous and experienced frontcourt duo. Waterman, a 6-9 senior, averaged 14.5 points and a team high 7.0 rebounds. He is extremely tough for most opposing forwards to defend with his ability to score inside and outside. Crawford can shoot the ball too and averaged 9.3 points and 4.0 rebounds during his junior campaign. Manhattan still needs some more toughness and a shot blocker, but Crawford and Waterman can at least score and shoot.
Final Projection:
Ak Ojo could be that shot blocker. The 6-10 center averaged fewer than ten minutes per game last season, but he is a presence in the paint and a decent reserve option if the newcomers are not ready to fill that role. This is a Manhattan team that has a ton of experience and more than enough depth. There are a few unproven players that will need to develop into consistent roleplayers, but even there Coach Masiello has options. Finding a bit more scoring, some consistency and building momentum will be key for Manhattan this season. Things could go bad early and Manhattan may have trouble escaping their losing ways. Or the Jaspers could pick up some quality early wins and keep rolling. A conference title may be a stretch, but there will be massive improvement over last year’s disappointing record.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Zavier Turner, Senior, Guard, 14.9 points per game
Aaron Walker, Sophomore, Guard, 8.9 points per game
Rich Williams, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Calvin Crawford, Senior, Forward, 9.3 points per game
Zane Waterman, Senior, Forward, 14.5 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.6 (235th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 77.7 (293, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 41.6 (303, 11)
Field-Goal Defense: 45.3 (249, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (251, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.8 (276, 9)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.9 (90, 5)
Rebound Margin: -0.2 (203, 6)
Assists Per Game: 10.9 (321, 11)
Turnovers Per Game: 16.6 (344, 11)