Steve Masiello has a warm embrace for RaShawn Stores in closing seconds of his final game in a Manhattan uniform. Jaspers fell to Siena in MAAC tournament quarterfinals, 89-76. (Photo courtesy of Vincent Simone via Big Apple Buckets)
As Manhattan's run as Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions, a two-year reign, comes to an end, here is the final handful of takeaways from the Jaspers' season, which culminated in an 89-76 loss to Siena in the quarterfinals of the MAAC Tournament at the Times Union Center:
- It all begins again.
For Steve Masiello, although the season did not end the way he and his players had hoped, the process of returning to the summit of the mountain is reinvigorated and renewed. "Obviously, you want to get a third. That was our goal," the coach said shortly after the final buzzer. "We wanted to be one of the three teams to do that. That vision now starts over Monday morning at individuals at 8 a.m. That's what we're going after, make no mistake about that."
- An unlikely bright spot showed up Saturday night.
That would be the offensive effort from Tyler Wilson, whose 14-point game ranks as arguably his best since posting a career-high 15 against Monmouth in his freshman year. The junior point guard, who also added four assists and four steals to the cause, was thrust into the role of scorer primarily as a result of foul trouble, especially the three whistles racked up by Shane Richards in the game's first ten minutes. Regardless, Wilson, who was also 4-for-6 from the floor and missed only one of his seven free throw attempts, provided a glimpse into what could be an eye-opening senior year if the Bronx native and Cardinal Hayes product hits all the right notes on that side of the basketball.
- Manhattan's defense did what they needed to do.
The Jaspers turned Siena over 20 times, but were done in by a 45-20 disparity in free throw attempts, as well as the Saints' plus-25 margin on the boards. "When I look at the game, at the end of the day, we did our job," Masiello revealed. "We had eleven more field goal attempts than them, and that's what you want to strive for in this style of play. We balanced it out with our ability to turn them over and use their speed. The problem was them turning those 19 offensive rebounds into more points than we did off turnovers, so give Jimmy credit."
- This is Rich Williams and Tyler Wilson's team next season.
The two juniors will be the only seniors on the roster in 2016-17, and together, they learned a lot from the men who came before them. "Coach always tells us to be leaders now, that we should be more vocal," said Wilson. "Shane and RaShawn (Stores) helped us out a lot."
- Steve Masiello's message to Richards and Stores when he took them out in the final seconds:
"I'm proud. I think it gets lost sometimes, not from me, but from these guys, what they've accomplished. You look at Shane Richards' career, he's a kid who didn't have a scholarship. RaShawn Stores' career, he's a kid that I didn't even know where he was after high school. You look at what these kids have accomplished, and more importantly, the people they are, how they went about it and what they meant to each other. We wouldn't have Rich Williams in this program if not for RaShawn and Shane. You've got to have good character to get character. These guys understand that. They're two of the greatest to ever wear the green and white."