Manhattan College hosts Winthrop Tuesday at 8:45 a.m., a game whose odd start time is explained by the all-powerful four-lettered sport TV channel’s interest in it.
ESPN is running 24 consecutive hours of college basketball to launch the 2016-17 season and Winthrop and Manhattan are included in the hoops glut.
Initially, Winthrop was slotted to play at 6 a.m., according to coach Pat Kelsey. That was later shuffled to 8:45; Hartford and Niagara got stuck with the pre-dawn tip time instead. Kelsey said his team can deal with the early game time, though pregame routines may be impacted by about 30 minutes.
“We’ll probably have to back it up a little bit,” he said. “Maybe we’ll walk through the baseline out of bounds stuff the night before, which makes me a little nervous because it makes me break my habits. So there will be little tweaks like that, but the fact that it’s at a relatively normal time, around 9 a.m., we’ll be fine.”
Winthrop sports information’s Brett Redden confirmed that Tuesday’s game will be the earliest start time in the school’s men’s basketball history.
Kelsey noted that Winthrop regularly practices at 9 a.m. on the weekends and, besides, Manhattan has to play at the same early time. It’ll be interesting to see if the early rise affects the Jaspers’ break-neck playing style, which has helped them to a pair of NCAA tournament appearances in coach Steve Masiello’s five years. His teams have finished in the top-34 nationally each of the last five seasons in turnover (forced) percentage, a product of consistent full-court pressure.
“They fly around, they trap you, they want to deflect the ball and wreak havoc,” said Kelsey. “We’ve got to play with great poise.”
Defense creates much of Manhattan’s offense, and, under Masiello, the Jaspers tend to turn the ball over quite a bit and shoot a lot of free throws. It’s hectic, probably a bit like driving around the school’s neighborhood in the Bronx.
Winthrop hit at least three 3-pointers in all 32 games last season; the Eagles made just 2-of-21 last Saturday against Ferrum College.
Winthrop played UNC Wilmington in one of its closed-door scrimmages to get an idea of what it’ll be like against Masiello’s crew. Both Masiello and UNCW coach Kevin Keatts fell from the Rick Pitino coaching tree and they like to play fast. Kelsey is confident that preparation will help his team, and he also thinks being on the road may be an advantage with regards to the abnormal tip time.
“I really think that the fact it’s on the road will offer some familiarity to our routine,” Kelsey said. “It’ll be pretty similar to what it would be any other game, we’re just getting up a little earlier.”
The fans that do make it out to the game, maybe before work or class, will have help waking up. Manhattan is giving away coffee and free admission to the game at Draddy Gynmasium.
Winthrop (1-0) at Manhattan (0-1)
When/where/what: The Eagles take on the Jaspers Tuesday morning at 8:45 a.m., as part of ESPN’s 24 consecutive hours of televised college basketball to tip off the 2016-17 season. The game will be aired on ESPN2.
Last time out: Manhattan fell to Bucknell 76-64 last Friday night.
Previous meetings: the two schools have never played.
Opponent’s players to watch: Sr. G Rich Williams (preseason second team All-MAAC); Soph. G Thomas Capuano (11 points, 5 assists against Bucknell); Jr. F Zane Waterman (6-9 post comes from Fayetteville, N.C.); Jr. C Ahmed Ismail (7-2 Egyptian center).