Manhattan’s Marquee Non-Conference for 2023-24

By Isaiah Rosario, Sports editor

Manhattan’s marquee matchups for the 2023-24 season are like no other this year. Both the men’s and women’s teams have plenty of games that you will not want to miss this year. 

Manhattan’s men’s basketball team will face both of the previous NCAA Tournament champions, the University of Kansas on Nov. 10 and the University of Connecticut on Nov. 24. These powerhouse matchups are nothing to be afraid of for the Jaspers as they will use these games to make sure their name is known across the country. 

“We’re coming in every day, just like they are, we’re putting in the same work,” senior guard and forward Logan Padgett said. “We’re going there to win … we’re not backing down from anyone. A lot of people don’t think that we’re going to be great this year, but I think those are two of the perfect games to prove we’re actually here, we’re going to earn our respect.” 

On the women’s side, they face two tough matchups in New York City, Fordham University on Nov. 16 and St. Johns University on Nov. 19.

“One game I definitely circled is St. John’s,” senior captain Jade Blagrove said. “I think they’re a really good team, they made it to the NCAA tournament last year and it’s a local team too, so it’s some type of rivalry between the New York City teams … I think this will definitely be a game where we can show what we got. Even though we are the underdogs, it is a great position to be in, nobody is expecting us to do anything and it makes it even more fun to show people what we can do.” 

When creating the non-conference schedule, coaches often look for teams that could challenge them and give them good competition and opportunities to grow. The women’s team has three back-to-back-to-back matches against trophied athletic schools, Fordham, St. John’s and Bryant. 

Head coach Heather Vulin created a non-conference schedule that would benefit the team down the road in MAAC play. Her primary focus was to find teams who have a similar play style to the tougher teams in the MAAC. 

“We normally try to do an aggressive non-conference,” Vulin said. “We’re not looking to play teams and try to be 9-0, because we play the sisters of the poor. We’re trying to play teams that are similar to the upper-level teams in the MAAC, that help prepare us. I’m really excited about the schedule that we put together.”

A school’s non-conference schedule creates a new level of competitiveness as you face opponents that you rarely face, which involves preparation, and the desire to be better every day to beat these teams. 

“Every single day has to be an environment where it’s about getting better; it’s the growth mindset,” men’s head coach John Gallagher said. “When you have a growth mindset, every day is an opportunity to get better, whether it’s the non-conference, whether it’s MAAC play, they don’t differ, and your approach never differs. It’s something that I think our program prides itself on, whether it’s a Tuesday in October, or Championship Saturday in March, the approach is the same every day.”

With the first year at the helm, coach Gallagher looks forward to implementing a simple philosophy for his student-athletes heading into non-conference play, do the right thing and be on time. 

“The philosophy behind that is we try to keep it simple,” Gallagher said. “We try to recruit great student-athletes that are gonna represent Manhattan College in a first-class manner. When you recruit to that motto, it attracts people who are here for the right reason. I think we’ve gotten off to a good start, and something that I think my staff and players should be proud of.”

The women’s team opens up their non-conference schedule on Nov. 6 at home against Central Connecticut State University. The men’s team opens up their non-conference schedule at Bryant University on Nov. 6.