Almost everyone returns from Steve Masiello’s first season in Riverdale and that appears to have given the young coach some confidence. The Jaspers will be preparing to battle Loyola (MD) and the rest of the MAAC with a very difficult non-conference slate. One that if navigated correctly, could be a boost come March.
Manhattan’s schedule isn’t easy. The Jaspers play just two true home games, versus Hofstra on Nov. 21 and Stony Brook on Jan. 1. There is also a smattering of games around New York City. Masiello will take his team to Brooklyn to face LIU, Morningside Height to play Columbia and play the annual Battle of the Bronx against rival Fordham. There’s also a game against South Carolina at the Barclays Center.
But the road games make this schedule so daunting. Manhattan will play the bigger, stronger version of itself to open the season when it goes to Louisville to take on Rick Pitino and the Cardinals. Jon Rothstein likes to refer to Manhattan as a AAA version of Louisville, well now we’ll see if for one game they can handle the Major League level. The one saving grace is that this game is at the very beginning of the season. A win on Nov. 11 would send shockwaves through college basketball. After that things get no easier though, because the Jaspers will head to Cambridge to take on Harvard.
The rest of the schedule makes Manhattan look like an auxiliary member of the Atlantic 10. The Jaspers will play at Dayton, Fordham and George Washington in consecutive match ups. The last of those games on Dec. 2 is part of the BB&T Classic, which will also feature Maryland vs. George Mason at the Verizon Center.
All of this should set Manhattan up to get a strong BracketBuster game in February. Wins would help the Jaspers put themselves in the best position to play postseason basketball. The set up is done, but now the hard part begins. Navigating the schedule has the potential to do wonderful things. And even if the Jaspers aren’t up to the task they’ll be well prepared for an extremely competitive MAAC season. So why not?