Steve Masiello: “This Team Has the Higher Ceiling”

After a historic last season where the Manhattan Jaspers won its first MAAC Championship in 10 years and nearly knocked off the defending national champions in the NCAA Tournament, Head Coach Steve Masiello has a message for the country:

This team can be better.

Masiello celebrated his first MAAC Championship as a head coach last season. Will he do it again this season? Photo by Chris Cirillo.
Masiello celebrated his first MAAC Championship as a head coach last season. Will he do it again this season? Photo by Chris Cirillo.

“I think this team has the higher ceiling than last year’s team,” Masiello told Inside Manhattan Basketball, a weekly online show on “I think this team will struggle more early, but I think come January, February, I think this team’s growth has a ton of potential this year.”

Masiello will face the challenge of replacing 50 percent of last season’s scoring with the departure of seniors George Beamon, Rhamel Brown and Mike Alvarado.

The Jaspers should get a lot of help from sophomore Jermaine Lawrence, a transfer from Cincinnati who was an ESPN Top 100 recruit coming out of high school. Lawrence received a waiver from the NCAA and will be eligible to play this season.

Lawrence played just 15.0 minutes a game last season, which resulted in 2.8 points and 2.9 rebounds a game, but he will have a much larger role in the Manhattan offense.

“I think what he’s bringing to us is just a different dimension to our team,” Masiello told the Five Borough Hoops Show on Oct. 27. “We’ve haven’t had anyone like him, and I don’t know if many people at our level have anyone like him. He’s a legit 6-9 and a half, three man who can put the ball on the floor. He can face you up from 15. He can post smaller guards. He’s a terrific rebounder.”

The Jaspers will also have to make its way through a tough non-conference schedule which features three teams that made it to the postseason last season. All but one of the games will be played on the road or at a neutral site.

Masiello was an advocate for an at-large big for the MAAC last season. If the Jaspers fail to win the MAAC Tournament and receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, the team may have a case for an at-large bid if they can win a few games in the non-conference schedule.

“I look at what other programs have done whether it be a Gonzaga, going back 15-20 years, and Xavier, and these elite mid-majors or whatever you want to call them now, and they set the bar about what needs to be done,” Masiello told the Five Borough Hoops Show, “If we want to be spoken about in that light, we have to be ready to do that [win non-conference games].”

The Jaspers will have its first live action since falling to Louisville in the NCAA Tournament when the team takes on Division II opponent LIU Post in Draddy Gymnasium on Nov. 8.

School Conference (Overall Record) Tournament Appearance
Florida State ACC


NIT Semifinals


Massachusetts A10


Second Round of NCAA Tournament
Binghamton American East


No Tournament Appearance
George Mason A10


No Tournament Appearance
Rutgers AAC


No Tournament Appearance
Pittsburgh ACC


Third Round of NCAA Tournament
Fordham A10


No Tournament Appearance