In the aftermath of his leading Manhattan to the NCAA tournament and giving Louisville all it wanted before falling in the round of 64, Steve Masiello was considered by many to be a rising star in the coaching profession. His work turning around the Manhattan program ultimately resulted in South Florida offering him its head coaching position and he accepted, with designs of pulling off a similar turnaround.
But because of the fact that he’d yet to complete his undergraduate coursework at Kentucky, despite the fact that his resume stated that he’d graduated, Masiello was no longer in line for that job and his coaching future hung in the balance. After completing his degree requirements Masiello was reinstated as head coach at Manhattan, which had placed him on leave following the discovery.
And in a story written by Scott Gleeson of USA Today, Masiello stated that the situation was “the best thing that could have happened” to him.
“It reprogrammed me from an accountability standpoint,” Masiello told USA TODAY Sports. “I am now proud to say I graduated. And I try to graduate 100% of my players. My job is to impact people’s lives. If this doesn’t get people’s attention — to do the little things — then I don’t know what will. Forget about money or other jobs. I almost lost my career because of a mistake I made when I was 21. Now I’m 36. I’m not trying to spin that, but I tell my players what you do now matters.”
As Masiello stated, his situation is one that can be used as a learning experience for both he and his players. And after reaching the NCAA tournament a season ago, the Jaspers are capable of making a return trip in spite of some key personnel losses.
Gone from last season’s team are key seniors and leading scorers George Beamon, Michael Alvarado and Rhamel Brown, and their contributions won’t be accounted for easily. But with returnees such as Ashton Pankey, Emmy Andujar and Shane Richards back, and Cincinnati transfer Jermaine Lawrence granted immediate eligibility, Manhattan shouldn’t be ignored when assessing the MAAC race in 2014-15.
In addition to Manhattan, bitter rival Iona should also be a contender with A.J. English and David Laury III back on campus, and a Siena team that returns every key member from a rotation that won the CBI will be heard from as well.