ESPN.com’s Kieran Darcy published an article on Sunday night about the reaction that Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello had when the bracket popped up on the screen showing that their first round game would be against the Louisville Cardinals and his mentor, Rick Pitino. Needless to say, Masiello was not thrilled.
Just check out this opening of the article…
Steve Masiello didn’t raise his arms. He didn’t pump his fists. He didn’t jump out of his chair when he saw his team’s name pop up on the TV screen Sunday night — what should have been one of the best moments of his life.
No, Steve Masiello closed his eyes.
And when he opened them after a moment, he looked as though he’d just been punched in the gut. Because he had.
“We got a very difficult seed, [Louisville] really should be a 2-seed in this tournament,” Masiello told the large crowd of family and friends assembled at Thomas Hall on campus to watch the selection show. “We’re gonna have our work cut out for us.”
The article goes on to say that a reporter suggested that the selection committee was having a little fun with this pairing. “Not fun for me,” Masiello said. “I don’t know who they’re having fun with, but it’s not fun for me.”
If you haven’t seen Manhattan play, they do what you would expect: they play exactly like Louisville. Masiello played for Pitino at Kentucky and then he coached with him here at Louisville. Just about anything he knows about the game will be something Pitino taught him. So of course he will teach his players the same things that the Louisville players are learning. How will that translate when it comes to those teams playing each other?
“They’re basically the bigger, better version of us, so it’s very, very tough,” Masiello said. “They’re better than us at every position. I’m going against the guy that taught me everything I know. So they have every advantage there is. And they’re playing the best basketball of anybody in the country. From a matchup standpoint there’s not one good thing about it for Manhattan.”
I am sure Pitino wasn’t very happy with the draw either, and not because of the seed in any way. I doubt he will find pleasure in trying to eliminate one of his proteges in the NCAA Tournament.