Jaspers Can’t Beat the Odds
March Madness Ends for Manhattan
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, MARCH 21- Neither the Manhattan Jaspers nor the Louisville Cardinals traveled to Orlando, Florida to visit Walt Disney World. The 13th seeded Jaspers were given the unenviable task of trying to eliminate the defending national champion Cardinals in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Although ranked 5th in the nation, Louisville was only selected to be a 4th seed in the tourney. The coach of Louisville, the experienced Rick Pitino did not complain about the seeding of his team, but was vocal in his displeasure of facing Manhattan, “The matchups don’t make sense to me. It’s not ok with the matchups. We press like him, we trap like him, his offsets are like ours. That’s why I don’t like the game. I don’t think it’s fair. This is anybody’s game; it’s not 1-16.”
Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, the junior partner of a lengthy, close relationship, was also upset about coaching against his mentor, “It’s just not fun for me going against someone I have to try to beat, and, almost in my mind, think negatively about. It’s hard for me to do that.”
Masiello has had a positive and close relationship with Pitino for nearly a quarter of a century. As a youngster of 12, Masiello was ball boy for the Pitino coached New York Knicks. He followed Pitino to the University of Kentucky, where he played as a reserve on Pitino’s team. Encouraged by Pitino to be a coach, Masiello served as one of Pitino’s assistants at Louisville from 2005-2011.
He was hired as the head coach at Manhattan three years ago. He had worked at the college a decade earlier as an assistant coach.
Each team played with a full effort and each coach made every move to ensure a victory for his team.
Louisville took an early lead, but the score was knotted at 8 at 16:30. The Cardinals led throughout the rest of the first half, raising their advantage to a game high eight points, 31-23, with 2:23 on the clock. The Cardinals led, 35-29, at the half.
The Jaspers scored eight unanswered points to begin the second half and take their first lead of the contest, 37-35, at 16:21. The Jaspers did not lead again until 4:57 and the score was tied four additional times, the final time with two minutes left in the contest. Experienced Louisville guard Luke Hancock then took the game over with the score knotted at 60 by scoring eight consecutive points, two threes and two free throws.
Louisville was victorious by a score of 71-64. Before leaving the court, Pitino praised his former player and assistant Masiello in the highest terms, “That’s one of the best coaching jobs I’ve seen in my 39 years.
The Manhattan players and staff should return to the Bronx with their heads held high. Louisville will move to the second round to face the St. Louis Billikins on Saturday.