Manhattan left it all on the court against the No.1-ranked Kansas Jayhawks last weekend. It ended in a 99-61 defeat for the Jaspers.
The best part about the Jaspers’ tough night in Lawrence was that it didn’t count for any seeding or stakes in March. Coach John Gallagher brought his rebuilding program with 13 new players into the historic Allen Fieldhouse and left with feedback that Manhattan will use to prepare for conference play.
Manhattan has 13 new players on the roster this season. Each one was summoned to some level of adversity as Manhattan fell behind early and trailed 44-19 at halftime.
The Jaspers were helpless against the likes of Hunter Dickinson, Kevin McCullar, and KJ Adams. They combined for 47 points in the rout and teamed up for a series of alley-oops along the way.
Star guard Dajuan Harris didn’t even attempt a shot in the first half before scoring five points. Harris’ lack of shooting has been a theme for him early. He didn’t attempt a single shot in a 43-point win over N.C. Central four days earlier. Being more passive was possible for Harris since the Jayhawks eased their way into the season paying small conference opponents.
Before the game, Gallagher pondered going with a bigger lineup to face off with Dickinson and Adams in the front court. It didn’t end up mattering anyways.
“You have to pick your poison against a team like Kansas,” Gallagher said. “At the end of the day we chose one route and I think if we chose another route it still would’ve hurt us.”
Yet another Kansas star was born with the emergence of Johnny Furphy. The 6-foot-9 freshman beat Manhattan with his ability to score from almost anywhere. Furphy had 15 points with three threes and will look to be one of the next great shooters to leave Kansas early for the NBA. He is an immediate replacement for this year’s first-round pick Gradey Dick who starred in his one season in Lawrence.
Manhattan’s spirits were buoyed by another strong performance from freshman Seydou Traore. He looked like he belonged in this one from an athleticism standpoint and also has the finesse to be one of the Jaspers’ leading scorers. The Bronx native out of Our Saviour Lutheran School had 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds. On one possession in the second half, Traore showed off a nice ball fake and attacked for a huge dunk.
Traore has the makings to be a member of the All-MAAC Rookie Team. The shooting is there with a three-point shot in his arsenal. Traore also showed good poise with a 4-for-4 showing from the free throw line.
“I thought we had really good production out of Seydou,” Gallagher said. “He looked really good in the second half.”
Besides Traore, no Manhattan player stood out for prolonged stretches. After some early struggles, Brett Rumpel settled in for a better second half and finished with 11 points. Xinyi Li had some flashes but struggled on the defensive end. Senior Perry Cowan added three threes in the second half with the game already out of reach.
Afterwards, Gallagher desired more out of his players from a consistency standpoint.
“A game like that shows us where we need to get to if we are going to play meaningful games in March,” Gallagher said.
Rumpel is only a sophomore which makes him Manhattan’s starting point for now and likely in the future as well. In his freshman season at St. Bonaventure, Rumpel averaged a little under two points per game while only playing a tick over eight minutes per game.
However, the expectations are completely different in Riverdale, with Rumpel playing 38 minutes in the 61-59 win at Bryant University in the season opener before logging 33 minutes at Kansas.
Last season was a misstep for Rumpel’s development. Early on this season, he has shown a penchant for both attacking the rim as a scorer and setting up his teammates when needed. Both those traits will determine the level at which Manhattan performs offensively this season.
“I think the ceiling is high for him,” Gallagher said. “The good news is we have him for three years.”
Growing up in Philadelphia, Gallagher always thought the Palestra was impossible to top among basketball venues. That belief was only solidified during his collegiate career playing at St. Joe’s under Phil Martelli. Only until this past weekend did Gallagher realize he had a new favorite.
“I grew up in Philly and the Palestra was always heaven to me,” Gallagher said. “This is the Palestra on steroids.”
Gallagher said his favorite piece of history at Allen Fieldhouse was the 13 original rules of basketball, which was purchased via auction by Kansas alumnus and donor David Booth for $4.3 million. James Naismith created the rules document back in 1891 and later served as the first basketball coach at Kansas.
“Everybody in the country who’s a basketball fan needs to come see the museum,” Gallagher said. “This is the best place in college basketball and what Coach (Bill) Self has done here is truly remarkable.”
Manhattan will play D-III Felician University on Nov. 16 at Draddy Gym. Looking ahead, the Jaspers also have a road appointment with the defending national champions and No. 5-ranked Connecticut Huskies on Nov. 24.
By scheduling nationally ranked opponents, Gallagher is sending a message to his players about where he hopes to take this Manhattan program that has been down recently.
“If you don’t want to play in games like this, don’t come to Manhattan,” Gallagher said. “In March, we are going to play in games like this and games that matter.”