After slow start, Bashir Mason's Wagner team has now won three of their last five, regaining their status as a contender in Northeast Conference. (Photo courtesy of the Staten Island Advance)
Going into the season at Wagner College, the biggest concern for the Seahawks would be the transition from the most successful season in program history; a 25-win magnum opus guided by Dan Hurley, who left Staten Island for Rhode Island in the offseason. In his place, 28-year-old Bashir Mason assumed the title of youngest head coach in the nation when he took the helm of the Verrazano Warriors, and despite starting 3-4 in his first season, Mason is starting to find the same success his predecessor built.
"I'm hoping we score a little bit more," Mason said following the Seahawks' 52-44 road win last night at Hofstra, "but we definitely take pride in our defense. We take pride in trying to hold teams under 38 percent from the field." (Hofstra shot just 33 percent on a night where their bench shot 7-of-13, but their starters were 9-for-35)
For the second year in a row, Richmond County's finest held the Pride to exactly 20 second-half points as Wagner used the playmaking ability of Kenny Ortiz (15 points, 3 assists, 4 steals) to combine with the efficient frontcourt trio of Mario Moody, Naofall Folahan and Orlando Parker, who combined for more than half the stats for the Seahawks.
"I told the team after the game to thank Mario, Naofall and Orlando," Mason said after his interior troika managed 26 points, 24 rebounds and six blocked shots collectively. "They battled, they crashed the boards. Naofall was huge tonight." Mason's newfound "big three" also shot 10-of-14 from the field in an efficient effort on both ends of the floor.
The question for Wagner now will be whether or not they come out with the same effort for the next game against Coppin State, which will come after what will be an eleven-day hiatus between the Hofstra game and the Seahawks' next contest on the 15th. If their recent performance is any indication, however, Wagner and Bashir Mason will be ready to roll, just as they have over their last couple of matchups.