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The Quickening

January 24, 2002 Columns No Comments

Marist-Manhattan II: Out-Foxed? Not again.

by Adam Shandler

On January 22nd, it was Bobby Gonzalez bobble-head doll night at Manhattan’s Draddy Gymnasium. But Coach Gonzalez and his Jaspers almost bobbled another one to Marist in the re-match of a game played on January 12th.

Marist took the first contest, 58-56, in a game where Rick Smith scored 15 points and collected 8 rebounds. Can’t say we’re surprised that Marist (12-6, 6-3) is competitive. The MAAC pundits knew that the Red Foxes were going to be contenders, but we gave them little preseason confidence what with their 4-guard offense. (I’m not kidding when I say that.)

Manhattan blazed out to a 12-4 lead in the first five minutes of the game and led by eight at the half. Marist’s free throw shooting (9-12 in the first half) was the only thing keeping Dave Magarity’s club even close. The 14-3 Jaspers killed Marist off the boards (again, that 4-guard alignment) and took advantage of the Red Foxes’ flat-footedness on offense. Marist guard Sean Kennedy, the MAAC assist leader (7.1 per game) looked more like Ted Kennedy in the opening half and off-guard hot-hand Rick Smith got into foul trouble early. Without Smith on the floor to get open to create shots, Kennedy looked lost, and he spilled five turnovers before the break.

The second half was a complete turnaround for Marist. Smith, who finished with 17 points, started cooking and led a mid-half run that eventually got the Foxes a seven point lead. 6-7 “power” guard Nick Eppeheimer hit two big threes in the run and Kennedy was able to not only rotate the ball around a little more, but contribute to the scoring as well, hitting a huge “and-1” that gave the Foxes their largest lead of the game.

But Manhattan recovered with just over three minutes to go, dipping into the Mojo Bag that got them the lead in the first place. They dumped the ball down low to bruising sophomore forward Jason Benton, who will most likely go down as an unsung hero in this game. He had only seven points, but he, and forward Dave Holmes (10 points, 10 rebounds) had a size and presence that Marist did not, and both players were clearly remarkable factors in this game.

And let’s not forget about ol’ Mugsy. Manhattan point guard Mugsy Green: Clark Kent in the first half, SuperMugs in the second. He finished with 18 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds in 40 minutes of play, and while he led all scorers, even he knows that a stat line like that won’t get the job done every time. I say with the utmost sincerity that this was a quiet night for him. He was adequate, but not as spectacular as in previous games. If the wealth can be spread in the future like it was during this game, Mugsy will be just fine with adequate.

Manhattan won 67-62, sealed by Luis Flores’ 3-of-4 foul shooting in the closing seconds.


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