Having won his first MAAC tournament championship as head coach on March 10 over Iona, the coach who compiled a 60-39 record over three seasons became a hot candidate as his team pushed fourth-seeded Louisville to the brink in their second round match up.
Against his mentor Rick Pitino in Orlando during the second round, Manhattan fell 71-64 on Thursday night.
“He did a great job of coaching, him and his staff, his players did a remarkable job,” Pitino said of Masiello’s team’s effort after the game. The Jaspers and Cardinals play identical styles of basketball and Manhattan did not back down, leading by as many as three in the final four minutes of the game.
Almost 24 hours after the NCAA tournament game, rumors surfaced with Masiello’s name among the top candidates for the vacant job at South Florida.
Masiello will replace Stan Heath, who went 97-128 over seven seasons with the Bulls. South Florida last made the NCAA tournament in 2012, when they won two games, despite entering the field via the First Four. One NCAA tournament and one NIT appearance were Heath’s only postseason appearances with the school.
The Bulls finished last in the American Athletic Conference this season with a 3-15 record, but the conference will lose Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals, who move to the Atlantic Coast Conference for the 2014-15 season.
Despite our pleas to the contrary, we here at Big Apple Buckets wish Masiello the best of luck in his next endeavor and just wish it hadn’t come so soon. Manhattan’s next hire will obviously be incredibly important to maintain the momentum the program has established. There is still talent on the roster, but the losses of Mike Alvarado, Rhamel Brown and George Beamon will definitely sting.