Michael Alvarado has become greater focal point in absence of George Beamon, continuing his ascent into Manhattan history. (Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News)
It's easy to miss Michael Alvarado sometimes, as Manhattan's senior point guard tends to get lost in the shuffle on occasion amid the numbers and attention produced by his much more recognized teammates, George Beamon and Rhamel Brown.
What some people don't realize is just how much the Bronx product has made the motor run for Manhattan, both on and off the court as he drives down the stretch run of his senior season, a year in which he has become more of a leader in recent games after Beamon's shoulder injury in last week's loss to Quinnipiac.
Head coach Steve Masiello describes Alvarado's rise through the ranks in Riverdale as "one of the best turnarounds" he has seen after his struggle through a freshman year marked by six wins and a coaching change, as Masiello was brought in by the Jaspers to replace Barry Rohrssen in April of 2011.
"He totally bought in right away," Masiello said of Alvarado on yesterday's MAAC coaches' conference call, "from the standpoint of he had to change. It wasn't easy for him. My staff's done a great job, just really mentoring him and showing him what's right."
While the guidance of assistant coaches Rasheen Davis and Mathiew Wilson, along with associate head coach Matt Grady and director of basketball operations Mike Bramucci, has helped Alvarado keep a strong head on his shoulders off the court, his play on the hardwood has shown its own mentoring. A 23-point, 10-rebound performance against Quinnipiac after Beamon's early departure that night helped keep the Jaspers in a game that Tom Moore's Bobcats had every chance to pull away with, and that came just three days before his 33-point tour de force at Draddy Gym on Sunday, an effort that lifted Manhattan past an upset-minded Marist squad that took the MAAC favorites to overtime.
"He means the world to me," Masiello gushed after the game Sunday. "He's the heart and soul of this team, I said that two years ago when he went out with an injury and we lost him. He's our identity, he's our toughness. He holds the other guys accountable, and we have a lot of other good pieces, but Mike really keeps everything in line for us."
With an average of over 13 points and nearly four assists per game, Alvarado is a far cry from the boy he was when he arrived in the northwest corner of the Bronx, and his third-year coach would not have it any other way."
"To see him do that from where he was 30 months ago," Masiello said to underscore his praise for Alvarado's evolution, "that should be a movie unto itself. (Steven) Spielberg should get a hold of that."
Academy Award nominations will be announced tomorrow morning. Hopefully the Jaspers' Hollywood story will get some consideration.