It’s no secret that today’s coaches typically watch hours upon hours of film prior to playing their opponents, looking for weaknesses and game-planning for the other team’s best players.
Manhattan coach Tim Brooks is one of those coaches.
Unfortunately, Word of Life had yet to play its season opener, and with an overhauled roster that looks nothing like the one that went 28-5 a year ago, trying to prepare without any film was impossible.
“I’ve felt about as unprepared as I’ve ever felt, but there was no way around it,” he said. “We’re sitting there watching them warm up, saying ‘who’s that guy — he looks like he can play.’ That’s tough — it’s like going into an AAU game or a summer MAYB game.”
After playing the first half close, the Indians figured out the Fire, outscoring them by 20 in the last two quarters to come away with a 65-42 win, their first of the season.
“It was a team effort,” Brooks said. “I thought guys played unselfishly in the second half. I thought we really got after it defensively. We had steals and transition buckets.”
After leaning on Jacob Holloway in the season opener at Derby, Manhattan got a balanced scoring effort on Tuesday, with three guys in double figures and two others close.
“It’s nice that teams can’t key on one person,” Brooks said. “We’ll be effective. We’ve got all kinds of guys that can do it offensively, and a lot of it is created off our defense.”
Manhattan had a comfortable lead most of the night, with the exception of the second quarter. Word of Life’s Torrey Henderson went on a tear, scoring 14 points and scoring 10 straight points for the Fire as his team closed the half on a 6-0 run in the last 20 seconds. The run made it a three-point game going into the break.
Word of Life was able to tie the ballgame at the 5:51 mark of the third quarter, but Manhattan finally snapped out of its funk, scoring seven straight points to retake the lead for good. Once the fourth quarter started, it was all Indians, with Manhattan allowing just six points while Winston Dimel took over offensively.
Dimel scored nine of his 12 points in the final quarter, the most impressive of which served as the dagger for Word of Life. Dimel got a steal and started the fast break the other way, passing the ball of to Blake Saville, who gave it right back at the basket for an alley-oop that Dimel converted despite a hard foul, provoking the crowd’s loudest roar of the night.
“It was huge,” Brooks said of Dimel’s play. “That was a great pass by Blake. Winston had a pretty talented finish there. He was basically on his way out of bounds when he shot the ball, so it was a pretty sweet play.”
Holloway also finished with 12 points, while Saville had 11 off the bench, including three 3-pointers.
“He can get on a roll, he can also shot fake, get to the lane and pull up,” Brooks said of Saville. “He’s really worked hard on his shot and has a good feel for the game. He’s a nice complement to Jake coming off the bench.”
Brooks was also pleased with the way point guard Jonathon Taylor played. He was limited in the first half because of two quick fouls, but was a steadying force against Word of Life’s pressure in the second half. After 12 first-half turnovers, Manhattan had only four in the second half with Taylor running the offense.
“A lot of credit goes to JT, I think he really controlled the tempo and made great decisions in the open court, as well as the half court,” Brooks said. “He gave us such energy there in the second half both defensively and offensively.”
Leading the way for Word of Life (0-1) was Henderson, who finished with 16 points.
With its first win in the books, Manhattan (1-1) now has two days to prepare to host Dodge City on Friday and Great Bend on Saturday.
Brooks knows the challenge his team will face against Dodge City on Friday.
“Dodge will be completely different than tonight,” he said. “They’re very long, very tall and they’re deliberate in what they do. They’ll take up so much space in their zone, it’s going to be awful tough. So we’ll have to do some other things to combat that.” he said.