By Andrew Mannion, Staff Writer
It’s safe to say this has been a wild and unexpected start to basketball season for the Jaspers. Steve Masiello, the head coach for the Jaspers, was fired just two weeks before the start of Manhattan’s season. Jose Perez, the MAAC preseason player of the year, headed to West Virginia. With the loss of Masiello, Perez and former assistant coach Matt Grady, the Jaspers will have a much different team than they thought they would have.
It starts at the top, with interim head coach Rashawn Stores ’16. Stores, the former associate Head Coach, was given the interim head coach title as soon as Masiello was dismissed. Stores graduated from Manhattan College and played a stellar career with the Jaspers basketball team. He was a two-time captain and a Defensive All-American player. During his career, he helped the Jaspers win back-to-back MAAC Championships. He is ninth in school history for assists, totaling 314 over his career.
Stores has spent the past five years as a coaching staff member under Steve Masiello, rejoining the Jaspers as a coach in 2017. He spent his first two years on the coaching staff as an assistant coach. In 2019, Stores was promoted to associate head coach. He held that position until he recently took on the job of interim head coach.
Stores will now take the reins on the Manhattan program with the help of Manhattan’s leading players who are desperate to bring home a MAAC Championship. Guard and highest returning scorer Ant Nelson will look to carry his two years of dominating on the court to Manhattan’s 2022-2023 season. After transferring to Manhattan from Seton Hall, he found immediate success and averaged double figures in his season with the Jaspers.
Also helping Stores and Nelson make an impact on the court, 5th Year shooting guard Elijah Buchanan will provide the Jaspers with versatility and athleticism. Buchanan’s return to the Jaspers will help the team in terms of confidence and reliability amidst the personnel changes that have occurred in the past weeks.
Another star player to be on the lookout for is last year’s leading rebounder and efficient scorer Josh Roberts. After transferring from Saint John’s University, he had his first season in Riverdale last year. Roberts has excelled while wearing a Jaspers’ jersey and will continue to be another reliable and productive player on the court for the 2022-2023 season. Roberts’ stats are impressive on their own as he scored an average of 8.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting 69.7 percent from the field.
Even with the significant changes for the Jaspers, they will remain a strong competitor against the rest of the MAAC schools.With 12 players and 3 coaches returning, the team can continue to build up from their past seasons. As of Nov. 10, ESPN ranked the Jaspers at fourth in the MAAC. Although this is a drop from the MAAC Preseason coaches poll, which had them second, they still seem to be in a good position in the conference.
The basketball season is only just beginning and Manhattan will work to rebuild the places and personnel that are now missing. Anything can happen and the MAAC will consist of another extremely competitive conference season. Teams like Fairfield, Rider and Saint Peters will be Manhattan’s most closely matched games as their rankings and stats are similar to the Jaspers. Only time will be able to tell how Manhattan fares this year, but they will undoubtedly have a solid roster to play throughout this season.