Team preview: Manhattan

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Barry Rohrssen doesn't need to wear ruby slippers for everyone to see that he's excited about being the new basketball coach at Manhattan.

"It's home, and what did they say in The Wizard of Oz, 'There's no place like home,' " said Rohrssen, a Brooklyn native who was hired to lead the Jaspers after Bobby Gonzalez opted to cross the Hudson River for the head coaching position at Seton Hall.

Rohrssen plans to utilize a style similar to the physical, defensive approach Ben Howland and Jamie Dixon employed at Pittsburgh.

"There's a correlation," Rohrssen said. "The teams that defend the best, win the most. It's a skill that you can bring every night."

Although he has been away working on staffs at Pittsburgh (seven seasons) and UNLV (four seasons), Rohrssen has maintained his strong ties to the New York basketball scene while landing recruits such as Chris Taft and Carl Krauser for the Panthers.

"He is a great hire for a New York school like Manhattan," said Bob Leckie, who stepped down as coach at MAAC rival St. Peter's after last season and spent many seasons as head coach at Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn. "It is great to see a local guy get an opportunity to come home. As a home-grown product, he should have great success at Manhattan, and now it's up to the Catholic League coaches to help him out and rightfully send their players his way."

Not that he needs all that much help. Rohrssen, who played his high school ball at Xaverian in Brooklyn, signed seven players -- including six on official visits -- in his first three months on the job.

Rohrssen didn't have much choice but to get right to work. Manhattan graduated three seniors (guards Jason Wingate, Mike Konovelchick and Kenny Minor) and had three other players (C.J. Anderson, Jeff Xavier and C.J. Lee) transfer, leaving him with seven scholarships to fill.