1-2-3 Coaches for Men’s Basketball in Less than 365 Days

By Isaiah Rosario, Assistant Sports Editor

The Manhattan College men’s basketball team welcomed their third coach in less than a year. The college parted ways with former head coach Steve Masiello only three weeks before the start of the 2022-23 season. Soon after, the college hired former player, and assistant coach to Masiello, RaShawn Stores, as interim head coach. On March 29, the college officially announced former University of Hartford head coach John Gallagher will take over for the 2023-24 season.

Manhattan College Athletic Director Marianne Reilly explained that there was a “wide-open” national search to fill the vacant position of head coach. There were a couple of 100 applications, then it was narrowed down to 25 and we’re down to 10. Reilly and her board did interviews and ultimately felt that Gallagher was the best fit for the position. 

Stores inherited the program in a tumultuous period, as the termination of Masiello two weeks before the start of the season caused star player Jose Perez to enter the transfer portal and continue his athletic career at West Virginia University. Following Masiello’s exit and uproar from the team, Stores took over a program not expected to excel in upcoming games. Yet, under Stores, the team had at least 10 conference wins for the first time since the 2014-15 season. 

Players and supporters on the team have discussed the likelihood and hope that Store’s performance will help remove the temporary term from his title. Instead, the institution has opted to bring in a new face, which has surprised many in the MC athletics world. Reilly spoke about Stores as a coach. 

“RaShawn did an exceptional job,” Reilly said. “RaShawn is a Jasper, has been and always will be. We had a really good process and we asked some tough questions and we hope that RaShawn can stay on as a Jasper in some capacity. Right now we felt that John was the right person at this time.”

Despite criticism from many Manhattan students, players, and alumni, Reilly remained enthusiastic about the move. 

“John brings more than two decades of college coaching experience to Manhattan and has success and experience in leading a team to the NCAA Tournament,” Reilly said. “He has a track record of excellent recruiting, developing student-athletes, and providing a world-class student-athlete experience. John’s values align with ours and I am confident that he will lead our cherished men’s basketball program to unprecedented heights. On behalf of the entire Manhattan College community, we welcome John and his children, Kenna, Alanna, Jack, and Mary Kate to our family.” 

Gallagher also was excited about the bright young men that they will bring to the men’s basketball program. 

“We will recruit tremendous young men at Manhattan who will succeed in the classroom and on the court,” Gallagher said. “The Manhattan community will be proud to have our student-athletes who will represent the school and the greatest city in the world with pride. With incredible alignment, there is nothing that we cannot achieve together. My family and I cannot wait to join the Manhattan College community and Go Jaspers!”

New Manhattan College head coach John Gallagher coaching in March Madness. //Courtesy AP

Gallagher has won more games than any other coach in Hartford’s DI era, claiming 157 victories as the team moves down to DIII. He guided Hartford to its first-ever America East Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in the 2020-21 season. He also posted the highest winning percentage in program history (.625) with a 15-8 record in the 2020-21 season and led the most successful four-year run in Hartford’s DI history from 2017 to 2021, totaling 70 wins. 

  Former players Samir Stewart, Nick Brennen and Anthony Nelson took to Twitter to voice their opinion about Stores not being rehired after many players’ support. 

“WOW,” Nelson tweeted. “Don’t even have any words. This is just crazy. Rashawn Stores DEFINITELY deserved the job.” 

“NO LOYALTY. The whole team is really going to transfer now,” Brennen wrote on Twitter discussing Stores. 

“That’s crazy!! Rashawn Stores deserves this job,” Stewart wrote. “He did an excellent job on short notice.”

Forward Daniel Schreier took his voice to Twitter as well. After an almost four-year hiatus playing basketball at Manhattan, Schreier explained on Twitter that without Stores he is unsure if he is playing competitive basketball again. 

“If it weren’t for Rashawn Stores and his staff, I’m not sure I would have been able to play competitive basketball again,” Schreier wrote. “I got so much love for them. They each deserve so much more than this school has to offer. My heart hurts for them. Sad day.”

After very difficult exits for the Jaspers the past three seasons, Reilly believes that Gallagher could bring something new to the Jaspers for the upcoming season. 

“This [year] was a year of transition and when it’s a year of transition, you never know what’s going to happen,” Reilly said. “I think RaShawn did a really good job in keeping the team together. He did create a brotherhood among the team … [RaShawn] did a good job. But, it’s about what is the right decision at the moment for the program ..  Gallagher is going to prepare this team to take the court and his years of experience should be able to get us to a point where we’re able to not go just one game but we should be able to go multiple games in if we even need to go multiple games.”

The college is expected to have an intriguing 2023-23 season men’s basketball season as the program is getting a fresh slate, with new players and coaches alike.