Manhattan College is headed back to the NCAA Tournament after winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship. The Jaspers (19-13) defeated rival Iona College, the MAAC regular season champions, 79-69 in the title game.
Here’s what you need to know about the Jaspers:
1. They Are Making a Second Straight Trip to the NCAA Tournament
This will be the second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament for the Jaspers, who also defeated Iona last season in the MAAC title game to advance to the Big Dance. Manhattan was the third seed in this year’s tournament and won three games to take home the championship.
Last season the Jaspers fell to Louisville in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, a game in which Head Coach Steve Masiello squared off against his mentor, Cardinals Head Coach Rick Pitino.
The Jaspers pulled off an upset in seven times. In 2004, the Jaspers shocked Florida for a 75-60 first round upset. Manhattan also reached the second round in 1995 by upsetting Oklahoma in the first round. In 1958, Manhattan reached the regional semifinals before losing to Dartmouth.
2. Senior Forward Emmy Andujar Is Their Top Scorer
The Jaspers are an experienced team led by Emmy Andujar, a Bronx native who averaged 16.5 points per game in his senior season, doubling his output from last year. The 6-6 forward also averaged 7.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
Juniors Ashton Pankey and Shane Richards lead the supporting cast. Pankey, a 6-10 forward also from the Bronx, scored 13.5 ppg, while Richards, a sharpshooting 6-5 guard from New York City, averaged 13.1.
3. Head Coach Steve Masiello Had a Controversial Off-Season
After leading Manhattan to the NCAA Tournament last season, Masiello accepted the head coach position at South Florida. But after a discrepancy on his resume was revealed, Masiello had to back out of the job. According to ESPN, Masiello didn’t complete his bachelor’s degree at the University of Kentucky, where he played for Pitino.
Masiello was placed on leave by Manhattan after the issue was discovered and was reinstated after finishing his degree. The 37-year-old has coached at Manhattan for four seasons, leading the Jaspers to a 79-52 record over that span.
He came to Manhattan in 2012 after six years as an assistant for Pitino at Louisville.
4. The Jaspers Are Named for the School’s First Athletic Director
Manhattan’s unique nickname, the Jaspers, is in honor of the school’s founder, Brother Jasper, who was head of resident students at the college in the 1860s, according to the school’s website. He came to the college from Ireland and also served as its first athletic director, introducing baseball to the college.
According to Manhattan College lore, Brother Jasper was the first to invent the 7th inning stretch:
During one particularly warm and humid day when Manhattan College was playing a semi-pro baseball team called the Metropolitans, Brother Jasper noticed the Manhattan students were becoming restless and edgy as Manhattan came to bat in the seventh inning of a close game. To relieve the tension, Brother Jasper called time-out and told the students to stand up and stretch for a few minutes until the game resumed. Since the College annually played the New York Giants in the late 1880s and into the 1890s at the old Polo Grounds, the Manhattan College practice of the ‘seventh inning stretch’ spread into the major leagues, where it has now become a time-honored custom practiced by millions of fans.
5. The College Is Located in Riverdale, New York
Manhattan is located on a 22-acre campus in Riverdale, New York, a section of the Bronx. The Catholic school was founded by the De La Salle Christian Brothers in 1853.
The college was originally located in Manhattan at 131st Street and Broadway, but moved in 1923 to its present Riverdale campus as it expanded. The college decided to stick with the name Manhattan, despite being in the Bronx.
The college is home to about 3,100 undergraduate students. Notable alumni include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and entertainer Dennis Day.