THE LATEST

Steve Masiello On Top of the World Again

Photo by Kevin Fuhrmann
Photo by Kevin Fuhrmann

Photo by Kevin Fuhrmann

ALBANY, NY — Steve Masiello has another achievement to add on his resume.

This time, the whole country saw first-hand that it’s not false. He’s a champion…for the second time in a row.

Masiello! Masiello! Masiello!

Masiello is king again after being dethroned last season when the University of South Florida rescinded its job offer to the head coach, finding that he had never graduated college despite claiming to on his resume. After leaving Manhattan and then coming back, Masiello has proved – degree scandal or no degree scandal – that he is one of the best coaches in the nation.

“It’s the greatest feeling in my life,” Masiello said. “It’s been probably the hardest year of my life. I say this not about me but about my players: cream rises. This program rose above a lot of things, a lot of things.”

Cream rose when Masiello went back to the University of Kentucky, finished his undergraduate degree and returned as head coach.

Masiello! Masiello! Masiello!

Cream rose when Emmy Andujar went to court this past December to testify for the prosecution of the three men charged with murdering his older brother, and Masiello went with him, according to the New York Daily News.

Masiello! Masiello! Masiello!

And cream rose last night, when Masiello’s squad knocked off one-seed Iona, despite losing to them twice during the regular season.

Masiello! Masiello! Masiello!

The fans were chanting his name. His player’s couldn’t stop hugging him. Masiello couldn’t stop showing gratitude to the player’s around him.

Photo by Kevin Fuhrmann

Photo by Kevin Fuhrmann

“The media don’t really see what we go through day-in and day-out…” senior RaShawn Stores said. “The main goal, as the leader of this team, was to keep everybody level headed and we know we all we got – 22 strong. I learned that from coach through the years. He led the way. I just try to follow him as much as possible.”

Masiello came to Manhattan in 2011 and has brought success since day 1. In his first year as head coach, he turned a team with just six wins the previous year into a third-place regular season finish. It went down as the largest win turnaround in Division I basketball that year.

In his second year, he brought his team to the MAAC championship despite being without its leading scorer in George Beamon. The Jaspers lost, but it marked a turning point for the program.

In his third year, he won the coveted MAAC championship and nearly knocked off the defending NCAA champions, Louisville, in the NCAA Tournament.

This time, he did it again and won another MAAC title. He’s improved every year as head coach, so who knows what’s next.

But basketball is just half of the story with Masiello, who has helped his players grow off the court as much as on it.

“The main thing with coach Mas [Masiello] is he made us into men,” Stores said after the team’s final home game of the season. “I came here [Manhattan] as a young man, a teenage boy. Coach Mas made me into a man. He leaves all of us out here as men: Rhamel [Brown], Mike [Alvarado], Kidani [Brutus], the list goes on.

Photo by Kevin Fuhrmann

Photo by Kevin Fuhrmann

“That’s the big thing about Coach Mas, our brotherhood makes us even better players,” junior Ashton Pankey said. “I give coach all the praise. I love him so much.”

There is a saying in the sports world that “winning cures everything.” If the degree scandal placed any doubts on the head coach, another championship should be the cure.

But while the players point the finger at Masiello, Masiello points it right back at them.

“I got three phenomenal seniors who understand winning,” he said. “Ashton Pankey, Donovan Kates, Emmy [Andujar], RaShawn [Stores] are a coach’s dream. They might not be recognized by the casual fan but these guys have taken this program into a whole new atmosphere. I couldn’t be prouder of these young men.

“It’s more than basketball to us and they’re the reason I’m here.”

%d bloggers like this: