All is Fair in Love and War
Being a die hard March Madness fan , I opted to stay up late to answer a burning question on my mind: Would the teacher or the former student emerge the victor in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament?
Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals faced off Thursday night in the first round of March Madness against the Manhattan Jaspers, coached by Pitino’s former assistant Steve Masiello.
Both Pitino and Masiello were upset they were being forced to play one another in the first Round of 64. Pitino felt that the defending national champions should be playing a higher seed. Or was that the real issue? Masiello was concerned that his team was facing such a highly seeded and difficult opponent like Louisville.
The 4th seeded Cardinals were pitted against a 13th seeded Jaspers. The unusual marquee matchup did not disappoint as Manhattan played a solid game but in the end the former boss showed his protege who is still in control. Louisville came on strong with brilliant play and won 71 to 64.
For those familiar with Masiello, it was no surprise that Manhattan played a solid game and nearly knocked the Cardinals out of contention. The 36 year old Masiello , once the doppelganger to Pitino, is carving our his own style and reputation as a top college coach. Masiello will undoubtedly be on the short list for next year’s Division 1 coaching vacancies.
Masiello was a twelve year old ballboy for the New York Knicks when Pitino was the head coach. He went on to play at the University of Kentucky where he was coached by Pitino before he transitioned back to coaching at the pro level. Yet the bond between the two was formed and cemented.
Masiello’s assistants, Matt Grady, Rasheem Davis and Matthew Wilson, all worked at Louisville and were a vital part of the Cardinal’s organization under Pitino. They have now regrouped in Manhattan alongside Masiello.
The Manhattan Jaspers last appearance in the Final 64 tournament was in 2004. Masiello, a native New Yorker, has brought a bit of the Pitino philosophy to the team. The acronym T.O.E. is their mantra which stands for ” Team Over Everything.”
In the end, the teacher bested the student as Kentucky’s Luke Hancock hit two critical three pointers with under two minutes left in the game.
‘The game was one of the best coached games in my 39 years of coaching basketball” relayed Pitino, in a proud nod to Masiello.
“We want to be known as a legacy,” said Hancock in a post game interview. Louisville may be the defending champs but the team is young and will be hard pressed to repeat in 2014.