Following a season-ending injury to St. Bonaventure transfer Brett Rumpel just last week in a matchup against UConn, Manhattan visited Fordham Monday night for the Battle of the Bronx and were thrashed 93-61 by the Rams.
In spite, Manhattan head coach John Gallagher is remaining positive about the situation and the development his roster has seen throughout the first six games of the 2023-24 campaign.
“[After losing Rumpel] I didn’t really know what to expect, but after 40 minutes [against Fordham] – I know this sounds crazy – I feel great and so much better about where we can go,” said Gallagher. “I knew going into the season that we were going to surprise people, but we can still have a great year, it’s going to have to be through [other] guys.”
One of those guys expected to take on a bigger role will be Webber State transfer Daniel Rouzan who’s averaging 10.3 PPG to start the season, shooting 50% from the floor, and playing 24 MPG.
Against Fordham, the sophomore forward led the Jaspers with 15 points, two rebounds, and three assists on 7-for-14 shooting to help keep Manhattan close through the first half.
With conference play tipping off on Friday against Mount St. Mary’s, Gallagher pointed to just how effective the 6-foot-9 Rouzan can be in the MAAC.
“[With Rouzan’s] physicality, I’ve watched the team’s in our league and we’re going to throw it down to him everytime we can,” said Gallagher. “There’s not a big in our league that can do what [Fordam’s Abdou Tsimbila] can do from a defensive standpoint, so we’re going to have to throw it down to [Rouzan].”
However, Rouzan is just a sophomore and this Jaspers roster is loaded with underclassmen, featuring at least four freshmen consistently finding minutes within Gallagher’s rotation.
With so much youth headlining this developing Manhattan program, Gallagher added that Rouzan and Co. will have an opportunity to build on this season and return the Jaspers to mid-major prominence in New York City.
“We’re 3-3 with the seventh hardest schedule [in the nation] per Kenpom,” said Gallagher. “When you come to Manhattan, we’ve won NCAA Tournament games, we’ve been to a Sweet Sixteen, Steve Masiello, the former coach, he won back-to-back championships. We’re going to win here and you come to Manhattan to play in these games, we’re going to get to an NCAA Tournament shortly with this group.”