At first, it seemed like hyperbole.
When head coach Steve Masiello went on “Inside Manhattan Men’s Basketball” and went as far as calling Michael Alvarado, George Beamon, and Rhamel Brown, the greatest senior class in Jasper history, it felt like something was missing.
“I think it’s a great argument,” Masiello said. “I think Jack Powers probably has his, Bob Byrnes probably has his, and I have mine…it’s the greatest senior class in the history of the college.”
But when Manhattan defeated Iona in the 2014 MAAC Championship game and punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament, the thought felt legitimate. The class of 2014 had finally added a post-season berth that the class of 1975, 1993, and 2004 all had.
The class of 1975 comprised of George Bucci, Bill Champion, and Charlie Mahoney made three NIT Tournaments during their four years at Manhattan. Among their greatest accomplishments, Bucci ranks tenth all-time in Manhattan’s scoring list with 1,331 points; Charlie Mahoney is third with 384 assists; and Bill Champion is Manhattan’s all-time leading rebounder with 1,070 boards.
The class of 1993, made up of Keith Bullock, Chris Williams, and Carey Wilson, were responsible for bringing Manhattan’s program back to relevancy.
In 1992, they led the team to a quarterfinals appearance in the NIT Tournament, marking the first time in 17 years that Manhattan qualified for post-season play. A year later, they qualified for the NCAA Tournament as an 11 seed.
Bullock, widely regarded as one of the best players in Manhattan history, ranks second all-time in points and rebounds with 1,992 and 1,012 respectively, and eighth in steals with 147.
Williams is seventh all time in 3-pointers with 132, and Wilson is tenth in assists with 286 and first in steals with 218.
The class of 2004 boils down to two guys, but their resume compares to that of four or five. Luis Flores and Dave Holmes are the only Jasper duo to lead the team to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2003 and 2004.
In 2004, they upset the No.5 seed Florida Gators, and fell four points shy of defeating a Chris Paul-led Wake Forest.
Flores is Manhattan’s leading scorer with 2,046 and second in 3-pointers with 162. Holmes ranks 13th with 1,291 points and seventh with 826 rebounds.
It is hard not to be a prisoner of the moment, but Alvarado, Beamon, and Brown have a track record that is as good, if not better than all other senior classes. Most importantly, in 2010-2011 the team went 6-25. Three years later, the team qualified for an NCAA Tournament and gave the defending national champions, Louisville, a run for their money.
Rhamel Brown is Manhattan’s all-time leading shot blocker with 366; George Beamon is fourth in scoring with 1,843 points and third in steals with 162; Alvarado is fifth in assists and steals with 364 and 159 respectively.
The seniors have had such illustrious careers that even Dave Holmes and Luis Flores have heaped praise unto them.
“The things that guy has done in his career is just amazing,” Holmes said. “Can’t too many people in college basketball say they’ve had the career that he’s had.”
On Alvarado, Holmes said, “He’s such a tough kid. I would have him on my team any day of the week. Tough-nosed kid, I like the way he plays.”
Flores, who sees a lot of himself in Beamon said, “I think that he’s a proven leader. He’s been there for a very long time and has helped the team win, and he does more than I did when I was there.”
“George, you know, he’s a guy that does everything,” Flores said. “He scores, he rebounds, he blocks shot, and he defends.”
Comparing senior classes is like comparing apples and oranges. The game has evolved so much over time that what worked for one senior class during their career, might not have worked during another decade.
For Steve Masiello though, give him Alvarado, Beamon, and Brown over all the others. He’s more than happy with that.
“They brought this program from basically the 300’s or 340’s when we took this job, to an NCAA berth in 34 months,” he said. “You know, I think their body of work speaks for itself.”