For the first time at Manhattan, Emmy Andujar, Donovan Kates and RaShawn Stores do not have to worry about a practice, a film session or a game. They are done.
Four years of hard work have culminated in two MAAC championships and two trips to the NCAA Tournament. All that is left is finishing up their last month of school before graduating.
Kates on why he decided to come to Manhattan, which had won just six games prior to the year he arrived.
Kates: “The deciding factor was coach Mas (Steve Masiello). He flew down after I had all-star tryouts one weekend. He and a previous coach that were here had just the utmost interest in me. They really talked to me about being a vital part as soon as I came, and that was always important in playing right away. That and coach Mas’ belief in me and I believed in him, so that just kind of sealed the deal.”
Andujar and Kates on losing the title game in 2013, and whether they would call that the worst feeling of their careers.
Andujar: “Yeah, I’d say that. Just knowing that you could’ve went to the NCAA Tournament, which not a lot of teams are able to experience, and that you were only three points away from that, it’s just a horrible feeling. Then, seeing the other team celebrate.”
Kates: “Definitely the worst feeling. It was a little different then that because we had to actually watch them cut down the nets in front of us. So that feeling stuck with me through the next two years and that was one of the deciding factors in us winning because we didn’t want to feel that feeling again.”
Stores on the level of motivation losing in 2013 served in 2014 and 2015.
Stores: “We watched that game every time we were in the MAAC Tournament our last two years. We watched the ending of that game and how we had to watch the other team celebrate, and that motivated us even more.”
Kates on his performance in the 2015 MAAC championship game.
Kates: “Man, that was a great feeling. I’m just kind of the guy who just would do whatever to help the team win, whether it’s defense; rebounding; scoring. All that really doesn’t matter. I’m just a big win guy. So it fell awesome just to get the overall victory.”
Andujar and Stores on their most memorable moment at Manhattan College.
Andujar: “Obviously winning a championship back-to-back, but I have to say when we beat Iona my sophomore year and everybody stormed the court. It was something I had never experienced before and probably will never experience again. That was huge.”
Stores: “When we went to the Bahamas as a team. That brought us even closer. That changed us a lot. Especially when we lost in the championship, going through that, it was big.”
Stores and Kates on what they’ll miss the most from Manhattan.
Stores: “The fans. They always come out and support us. A lot of alumni have showed us a lot of support. Basketball wise, you just miss going out there with your brothers, day in and day out, especially guys that you called your family for the last four years and will always be your family now that you made history with them. So you’ll miss the rough days, I wouldn’t say you miss the rough days that much, but you’ll miss the big time game days and preparing.”
Kates: “I feel like we have a great student body. Everybody is pretty close, people know us, so I’m going to miss that. As far as the team, just being around my other teammates, my coaches. There’s nothing like college basketball, so it was just a great experience for me.”
Andujar, Stores and Kates on what’s next in their careers.
Andujar: “I’m still deciding who to sign with as an agent. But Puerto Rico is an option right now because I got drafted out there. Hopefully Europe somewhere in September. That’s the goal right now. But the sky is the limit, so you never know. Life takes turns that you wouldn’t expect.”
Stores: “My family and Emmy and some of the guys want me to continue playing, so I might play for a while or I might just go straight into coaching.”
Kates: “I’m going to try to play professionally overseas, probably for a couple years, as long as my legs can last. Probably after that, try to get into coaching or own a business.”
Stores on his coaching future.
Stores: “I learned a lot from all of the coaching staff, especially Mas. But, if I can get underneath Mas’ tree, that’ll help me because he was under the Rick Pitino tree. I’m just going to take it one step at a time and just let it be.”