This is a guest post by Ronak Patel
Manhattan College men’s basketball associate head coach Matt Grady can finally admit it now.
He wasn’t the most attentive student compared to his peers in class at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, NJ and Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
“Sitting in class — high school or college, probably shouldn’t be saying this, I was drawing up basketball plays,” Grady said with a chuckle. “I always watched games and was learning something new about the game of basketball.”
Other students’ classroom scribbles may have been tossed into the trash can at class end, but Grady took his basketball notes and turned it into a full-fledged coaching career. He’s made stops at Louisville, Cincinnati, Murray State and New Mexico State along the way. Grady now embarks on his sixth season in Riverdale as head coach Steve Masiello’s right-hand man.
“Masiello’s really taught me a ton about the business and how to get better everyday,” Grady said of his boss. “I enjoy working for him and it’s a great place; being in New York City is special.”
Grady continued, “I grew up in New Jersey and it’s nearby. Manhattan College is truly a special place and I work for a great boss.”
Grady has been an instrumental part of the Jaspers’ success under Masiello. He’s overseeing scouting and game planning for the Jaspers.
From 2013-15, Manhattan made three consecutive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament title games, winning two (2014, 2015) and losing one (2013), all against Iona.
This past season, the Jaspers went 13-18 overall and 9-11 in the MAAC. They spent the majority of the season playing seven to eight scholarship players due to attrition and injury, finished below .500 for only the second time under Masiello.
“Just tough to play the style we want to with limited numbers,” Grady said. “We had so many injuries here and there. Even with small injuries that kept guys off from practice. Our depth has always been a huge advantage for us. The numbers have always been our advantage and we didn’t have it this year.”
Jaspers lose two stalwart seniors from last year’s team, leading scorer Shane Richards (17.2 ppg) and the team’s heart and soul, point guard RaShawn Stores. The pair were part of both NCAA tournament teams and left an indelible mark on the program during its renaissance.
Grady quipped about how hard it is to have seniors graduate and move on.
“You see them come in as boys and leave as men,” he said. “It’s always tough; you want your guys to stay forever but unfortunately college is only a four-year experience.
We’ve been fortunate at Manhattan where we’ve had phenomenal kids and they do a great job on the court, in the classroom and in the community as well.”
The Jaspers return second leading scorer in senior swingman Rich Williams (14.8 ppg), talented inside-out threat junior forward Zane Waterman (11.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and sophomore forward Calvin Crawford (10.8 ppg 4.6 rpg).
“The returning guys are in summer workouts,” Grady said. “We are just trying to get them better each day and ensure when fall practice begins, they will be better than they were last season.”
Jaspers welcome in two talented guards to this year’s team: Aaron Walker (Benjamin Cardoso/Queens) and Nehemiah Mack (Mt. Zion Baptist/Baltimore). The recent success has helped in recruiting and the Jaspers know what types of players the need to attract in order to continue winning.
“Success obviously always helps,” Grady said about recruiting. “With that being said, with your brand getting better and recruiting stepping up, you’re going to try and steal some guys from the Big East and the Atlantic 10. That’s always been a goal of ours trying to do if possible.”
But what they look for is evident with the way they coach on the sidelines. It’s typical to see Grady up and imploring the team to get in proper position defensively and encouraging them every single possession.
“We look for guys that work hard and everyday you step you onto that court, be it practice or 40 minutes game time, lifting session and conditioning session, you bring it in every aspect of the program,” Grady said.
Grady’s passion on the sidelines can be traced to his high school days, playing alongside former Duke All-American and Chicago Bulls point guard Jason Williams at St. Joe’s in Metuchen, NJ. Grady played under coach Mark Taylor, one of the state’s preeminent high school coaches.
“Taylor’s intensity and love for the game rubbed off on me,” Grady said. “His offensive acumen and ability to adjust game to game is keen.”
At St. Joseph’s in Philly, he learned from another great as a student assistant under Phil Martelli. There Grady was able to do more than an typical student assistant gets to do.
“I thought I knew a little bit about the coaching business but in actuality I didn’t know anything,” Grady said. “Coach Martelli took me under his wing and gave me some responsibilities that wasn’t just getting coffee or lunch. I watched a lot of film and saw how they did things; it was almost like an apprentice and I sat back and learned.
Going to drive and get game film and try and learn the business being a young college kid when i wasn’t in class. Martelli took a huge aspect and how he took ownership of his program and everything that goes on a daily basis.”
Another aspect of Martelli that Grady found endearing was his class.
“He always writes everyone back,” Grady said. “Whoever sends him a note or writes him an email. He was and still is always willing to do anything he can to sell his program.”
At Louisville, Grady saw firsthand how a hall of fame coach like Rick Pitino orchestrates his program.
“It’s very humbling and special to be part of Pitino’s coaching tree,” Grady said. “That season we went to the Elite Eight in 2009 is something I will never forget. HIs impact on the game and all the great coaches that have learned under him and gone on to have success elsewhere, we’re grateful to everything Pitino has done.”
Prior to Manhattan, Grady spent a few months away from coaching. He served as Elite Camp Director for Hoop Group, located in Neptune, NJ. He coordinated and executed several camps along the east coast.
“It was very different. I didn’t go to practice everyday,” Grady said with a laugh. “When I was first started working with Hoop Group, I didn’t what it was entirely and didn’t know what to do. You’re used to at 1 p.m. go to practice everyday, you do individual instruction, you have film with team. It wasn’t like that.
I learned a lot because i was able to network and I got to meet people that I probably wouldn’t be able to meet otherwise if I didn’t work for them; I got face time and travel around and watch high school games and meet great basketball people in being part of that job.”
While he’s been a part of a strong program at Manhattan, someday Grady would like a program of his own.
“Hopefully one day if I’m lucky enough, it would be awesome to be a Division I head coach,” Grady said. “That’s a dream and goal of mine but right now, I’m doing everything I can to get our program at Manhattan better everyday.”