Vin Parise from CBT caught up with Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello. The Jaspers are 8-2 and one of the hottest mid-majors in the country right now.
CBT: Steve, let’s start out with the most recent win in your 5 game winning streak – your road victory at South Carolina.
Masiello: It was proud night for our program as a whole; players, coaches, fans, alumni – everybody. That is what Manhattan was known for in the 90’s under Steve Lappas, Fran Fraschilla and Bobby Gonzalez – winning games against BCS level schools. For our team to win on the road in the SEC was a great night for the MAAC.
CBT: As of the interview today, your team has more road wins than anyone in the country. How have you been able to win these games, while still continuing to play nearly 10 guys every night?
Masiello: To be honest, it’s all about the kids buying in. Our roles are completely defined and the kids are on board with it. Our 8th, 9th and 10th guys don’t try to be our 2nd, 3rd and 4th guys – and we’re taking pride in that. Our 9th guy wants to be the best 9th guy in the country.
CBT: Can you explain your ball club to the college hoops junkie who hasn’t seen Manhattan play yet this season?
Masiello: Obviously those that have seen us play know we like to attack both ends of the court and press; but we’ve really simplified our philosophy over the course of this winning streak. As a coaching staff we literally emphasize two things right now. Our goal is to play harder than the opponent – not just play hard, play harder. And the other emphasis to to talk more than the other team every possession. So many things have fallen into place from us concentrating on those two things.
CBT: George Beamon is your senior leader after a season ending injury last year. How do you feel about how he’s bounced back?
Masiello: First off, he’s a joy to coach. And he’s all about the win. Not the stats – just the win. When your leading scorer preaches that everyday, it’s a lot easier as a coach. And it’s more than just scoring when it comes to George. He’s one of the best rebounders for his position in the nation and he still had a double-double in a poor performance at Marist. A big reason we took the Bahamas trip in the summer was to get the rust off of his game from sitting out so long – but I couldn’t be happier with his start right now.
CBT: What are your thoughts on the MAAC this year?
Masiello: Our league always represents well in non-conference early and this year has been no different. No matter where our league is ranked year in and year out; we always have 4-5 teams that can win the conference tournament – I truly believe that. I was an assistant here in 2004 and we needed double OT to beat Niagara in the MAAC tourney. We then went on to beat Florida in the 1st round of the Dance. In a one bid league, it’s sometimes harder to get out of your own conference tournament than it is to play great in the NCAA’s.
*Vin Parise is the College Basketball Insider for NBC Sports Network and SportsNet NY. He is also a contributor & analyst for ESPN3, MSG Network, Cox Sports-New England, Fox Sports 1, The Providence Coaches Show, St. John’s Radio & Iona College Radio. He coached 8 seasons at FDU, Rutgers & Iona.
Follow Vin on Twitter: @VinParise