Steve Masiello admitted Manhattan would be underdogs in de facto road game against Siena, but his Jasper team knows full well what they are getting themselves into. (Photo courtesy of Vincent Simone via Big Apple Buckets)
Steve Masiello, as is usually the case, was brutally honest in his initial assessment of Manhattan's upcoming contest with Siena Saturday evening, stating in a point-blank fashion that his team would be "taking on all of Albany."
"They deserve it," Masiello said of the accolades garnered by Jimmy Patsos and the Saints, (20-11) who earned the No. 3 seed in this weekend's MAAC Tournament, and will face the sixth-seeded Jaspers (13-17) at 7 p.m. tomorrow. "They should be rewarded for it. I don't want any pity or empathy for it. Jimmy's earned it, Siena's earned it, they're a terrific basketball team. Last time we were here, we lost by 35. We understand what's on the line."
The 35-point loss referenced was a runaway 89-54 Siena rout on December 4, when Manhattan's lack of depth was exposed enough to where Masiello called the effort a "total embarrassment to the Manhattan uniform." The Jaspers did go on to avenge the loss by defeating the Saints one month later in triple overtime, and both programs have progressed since then.
"I think we did, but I think they have as well," said Shane Richards when asked how much Manhattan had grown since that December loss. "If the team hasn't grown since December, obviously you're not doing something right. I would hope we've grown. I think we have, just like I'm sure they have. It's going to be a tough game, it's in their home building, and we know what we're up against. We're just trying to take it game by game."
"What we did last year really doesn't mean anything," Masiello cautioned. "It's really just about coming out and being competitive, and we know on any given night, anything can happen either way. But I do think there's something to be said when you know there's no tomorrow and you look that other coach in the eyes, and players look at players in the eyes."
"Very good goes home, great stays," he added, "and you've got to be great. Very good is going home, and we understand that. It doesn't mean that's going to translate for us, but we do understand that."