Manhattan's MAAC championship defense will start against Florida State after Jaspers' schedule was released this morning. (Photo courtesy of NBC Sports)
The championship defense officially has a road to follow.
Five months after celebrating the program's first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship since 2004, Manhattan now shifts its focus to the upcoming 2014-15 season, which begins on November 15 after the Jaspers' schedule was finally revealed.
"This year's schedule is the most challenging schedule we have had here," head coach Steve Masiello stated in a release issued this morning after it was announced that his team would begin its pursuit of a second straight conference crown on November 15 in Tallahassee against Florida State. "This schedule will prepare us for conference play and have our program ready to take the next step."
There is no breathing room after the opener at Florida State for the Jaspers, who then travel to Amherst on November 18 for an 11am soiree against Massachusetts as part of ESPN's 24-hour marathon. From there, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall Of Fame tipoff awaits, as Riverdale's finest will take on Binghamton on November 22 and either Navy or Northeastern the following day from the Mohegan Sun Arena.
A November 29 trip to George Mason precedes Manhattan's MAAC opener, which comes on December 5 in Bridgeport against a Fairfield team that defeated the eventual league champions at the WebsterBank Arena last January. Two days later, the Jaspers will finally return to Draddy Gym for their home opener, entertaining Marist and new head coach Mike Maker. Next up will be a December 14 affair against Rutgers in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden, the first trip to the "World's Most Famous Arena" for Manhattan since 2008 and first Holiday Festival appearance since Bobby Gonzalez led the Jaspers to three straight championship game appearances in the annual December event during the mid-2000s.
Manhattan's next contest comes against Pittsburgh on December 17, with Morgan State coming to Riverdale three days later. On December 22, the annual "Battle of the Bronx" will be contested against Fordham, but this time at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, marking the first time since 2001 that the Jaspers and Rams will play one another outside of their native borough.
MAAC play resumes for the Jaspers on January 2, as the reigning champions will make the annual trip to western New York to face Niagara before meeting Canisius two days later. The Purple Eagles' return trip to Riverdale on January 10 is sandwiched by a pair of tilts against Saint Peter's, first at Draddy Gym on January 7 before a showdown at the Yanitelli Center on the 16th of the month.
A hosting of Rider on January 18 is next on the slate before Manhattan travels to Quinnipiac five days later. A two-game homestand ensues against Monmouth (January 25) and Siena (January 30) before King Rice and the Hawks get a second crack at the Jaspers on February 1. Canisius comes to Riverdale five days after that, with a February 8 journey to Rider preceding the first of two main events against fierce adversary Iona, who invades Draddy on Friday the 13th in what will almost certainly be yet another epic between the two schools separated by just nine miles and ten minutes by car.
A February 15 home matchup with Fairfield is a precursor to a three-game road trip that sees Manhattan visit Siena (February 21) and Marist (February 23) before locking horns with Iona a second time on February 27 inside the Hynes Center. The Jaspers conclude the regular season at home once again, welcoming Quinnipiac to the "6th Borough" on March 1.