The best tidbit of news (or, worst, if you're a Manhattan basketball fan) that came out of a conference call Wednesday with league coaches and reporters who cover the conference is that the Jaspers' senior swingman George Beamon, the leading scorer in the MAAC last season, might be done for the season.
Beamon missed his team's first two games with an ankle sprain, came back for the next four and, then, suffered a blow to the ankle late in the team's sixth game and has been out since.
With Beamon on the court, Manhattan was 2-2 with the swingman averaging a team-best 16.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Without him, the Jaspers are 2-8.
"George's injury is in a very unique spot," said Manhattan coach Steve Masiello. "He had swelling in the ankle since November and, then, it got hit again in the George Washington game (the team's sixth game of the year. It's actually a new injury on top of an old injury.
"We're not sure when he's coming back, but the young man's future is at stake and we're not going to take any chances."
Since Beamon has only played in four games, a medical red-shirt is still an option and Beamon could come back and play again next season.
"Those conversations have taken place," said Masiello. "It's definitely an option."
The loss of Beamon, who averaged a MAAC-best 19.0 ppg. last season, isn't the only reason that Manhattan (2-2 in conference play, 4-10 overall, is off to a relatively slow start after it was picked, in the preseason coaches' poll, to finish second in this year's regular-season standings.
Its standout junior point guard Michael Alvarado (8.4 points, 2.3 assists per game) has also missed the last two games with an ankle injury.
"Michael's injury is healing much faster (than Beamon's)," said Masiello.
But the Jaspers aren't sure about when Alvarado will be back.
"When you lose guys like that, particularly George ... it helps your approach when you step on the court and you know you have that guy with you," added Masiello. "Now we don't have that guy to take the game over and make that play. Then, you lose Michael, too, and we're without our starting backcourt.
"But, if we can be resilient, it can help us down the road,"
The loss of Beamon and Alvarado has meant the team has had to rely more on 5-11 sophomore RaShawn Stores and 6-0 freshman C.J. Jones at the point and 6-5 freshman Shane Richards in Beamon's spot.
"It might turn out to be a great blessing, if we can get those guys (Beamon and Alvarado) back at some point and the young guys pick up things quickly based on the experience they're getting."
But, it also means Manhattan is playing at a considerably slower pace than a year ago.
"We've had to," said Masiello. "Last year we tried to play to get the score into the 80's (Manhattan averaged 71.2 ppg. last season, while scoring just 57.6 ppg. thus far this season).
"This year we're playing more possession basketball and trying to slow it down. One reason is, because of the injuries, we don't have the depth. The other reason is that it's harder to play fast with young people. If we play a little slower, we can control things a little better. That's what we need to do right now based on personnel and our roster. If we had a full arsenal of guys it would be different. But we don't, and that's OK."