NCAA countdown: No. 59 Manhattan
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
The first word: Manhattan College was dealt a devastating blow last season when leading scorer George Beamon was lost for the season with a serious ankle injury. Consequently, the Jaspers finished with a losing record, but got hot late — narrowly falling to Iona in the MAAC Tournament title game.
Beamon, the MAAC’s top scorer with 19 points per game as a junior, returned as the seventh-highest scorer in the country last season but only played in four games. Beamon was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA and will be eligible as a senior for 2013-14.
Expectations were high for the Jaspers last season following a 15-win improvement — the biggest turnaround in the country in 2011-12 — and now the expectations are even higher. In addition to Beamon’s return, Manhattan brings back its top six scorers, including senior guard Michael Alvarado and senior forward Rhamel Brown, and welcome now-eligible Maryland transfer Ashton Pankey.
2012-13 in review: 14-18 (9-9 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference), lost in the conference tournament championship to Iona 60-57.
Path to the Dance: The Jaspers need to win the MAAC Tournament to reach the NCAAs. That will require beating defending league champion Iona, the NCAA’s top scoring team the past two seasons.
Projected tournament seed: No. 14.
Coach’s Corner: “You don’t get points for where you finish in the preseason projections. The real talking starts in March. The way I see it, and what I tell my guys is Iona’s the defending champ and everything goes through them. They get all the diamonds. It’s up to the other 10 teams to dethrone it. Just because we’re picked high, doesn’t mean they send you your rings in the mail. That being said, if we finished fourth (in the league), I’m going to be damn pissed. We haven’t accomplished a damn thing. We better be hungry and we better be hunting those other teams.” — Manhattan College coach Steve Masiello (35-31 in two seasons).
X-Factor: If you’re looking for the most unoriginal team in the country, look no further than Manhattan. Masiello isn’t shy in admitting he tries … [For more on College basketball countdown: No. 59 Manhattan, click here.]