RICHMOND, Ky. – While it’s normally taboo for opposing coaches to engage in lengthy conversations before games, Steve Masiello and Dan McHale were willing to make an exception Tuesday afternoon and sat together like the old friends they are in McHale’s office at McBrayer Arena while their teams went through warmups out on the playing floor.
Why not? Despite the ups and downs that come with being a college basketball head coach, the old friends had beaten the odds. A year apart (Masiello in 1996, McHale in 1997), both came straight out of high school from the New York City metropolitan area to the University of Kentucky, both doing so not necessarily for the change of scenery, but a chance to study for what they hoped to be their chosen profession: basketball coach, which doesn’t exactly rank very high on the areas to ensure gainful employment after college.
What are the chances that a walk-on who rarely saw the floor (Masiello) and a student manager (McHale) from the same program at the same time would go on to become Division I head coaches two decades later? Slim to none, but luckily slim didn’t decide to leave the Big Apple or Lexington.