Jaspers ‘have much more of a chip on our shoulder’

Last year for the Manhattan Jaspers was the third season in a row that they failed to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title. The back-to-back championship teams of ’11 and ’12 are moving further and further away, especially now that only one player from the latter year remains: Michael Scarinci.

What made ’14 sting even more is the fact that they didn’t even qualify for the tournament.

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Thomas Capuano: Freshman is a standout in passion, grit

When Thomas Capuano was a kid, his passion for basketball was quite obvious to his mom, Janet.

“Anything you’re worried about. Any stress in your life, it’s just gone,” Thomas said when asked about how basketball makes him feel. “You just have to focus on one goal and you use your teammates to achieve that.”

He was always in the gym. He’d attend every practice he had to go to and then to any other practice other teams held. Any opportunity he had to be around the game, he’d take it, even if it was sitting in on other teams’ practices. There was no limit and he just wanted to do it. All of it, Janet recalled.

"Shows his determination at such a young age," Capuano's mom said in an email. He's seen playing with his first Amateur Athletic Union team en route to winning the third grade D2 Nationals. (Courtesy: Janet Capuano.)
“Shows his determination at such a young age,” Capuano’s mom said in an email. He’s seen playing with his Amateur Athletic Union first team en route to winning the third grade D2 Nationals. (Photo courtesy of Janet Capuano.)

“It was that discipline that is a big part to getting to where he is today,” she said.

“No one has seen Tom play more than I have since the third grade,” Capuano’s mom added. “I understand it’s biased coming from his mom but I’ve always known what he’s capable of and believed in him 1,000 percent that he could play at [the Division I] level and succeed at that level. He has always had to prove himself, he was the underdog a lot of the way, just in terms of his height — [ 5 feet 11 inches].”

From Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) through college, almost everyone who knows Capuano well describes him as tough; a grinder; determined; a hard-worker; hard-nosed; blue-collar. The list can go on.

If someone told him he had to work on his strength, for example, he’d do push-ups and sit-ups before bed without fail. And if he forgot to do them one night, he would get up when he remembered. When he has a goal he goes for it, his mom remembered.

“He’s the toughest mentally, physically that I’ve ever had as a coach,” Chris Ward, Capuano’s former AAU Spartans head coach, said, “and I’ve been coaching for 28 years. He’s got a special quality, charisma.”

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‘It was our best win of the year,’ Masiello said of win over Golden Eagles

Manhattan College didn’t look like itself in the first-half of its eventual classic Steve Masiello style, 84-77, win over Quinnipiac University. And all it took was a 15-minute halftime cooldown in addition to a pep-talk from Masiello.

“I said, ‘Let me tell you how this is going to go.’ (We spoke about faith and the process.),” Masiello said. “‘Believe in it. Just believe in it. Believe in what’s ahead. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen, how it happened– just know if you do what you’re supposed to do things will happen. There’s no way we’re not going to continue to not have a run, shoot the ball this bad. Good things will happen just stay with it.’”

Well, Manhattan’s win, obviously, didn’t solely rely on Masiello because then it could pretty much say goodbye to its chances at winning a third consecutive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title. It also had the offensive punch from Sha– Zane Waterman (19 points, 11 rebounds); ESPN 3 Pepsi Player of the Game, Calvin Crawford (18 points, five rebounds, three blocks); Rich Williams (18 points, five rebounds, two blocks); and RaShawn Stores (15 points, three rebounds, six assists).

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“I’m getting more comfortable with playing with these guys, knowing my role better– coach is emphasizing with me rebounding, that’s all I got to do,” Waterman said. “The points will come.”

“It was fun. The only word I can think of, and I know we keep saying it, but rebound; rebound,” Crawford said, “because [Quinnipiac] is crazy on the glass. All I was saying to myself, self-talk was rebound, rebound, and good things will happen from there.”

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Take a look at these Jaspers now

Talent, scoring ability, athleticism, dangerous, combination of perimeter and inside players. That’s the way Jenny Palmateer, Monmouth women’s head basketball coach, talked about Manhattan College.

Clichés are always a no-no whenever writing journalism but this one in particular perfectly describes the last year for Manhattan: “What a difference a year makes…” No, really. For the entire 30 game schedule in ‘14-‘15, it only managed to come away with three wins. Three wins.

“Last year, we were a very young and inexperienced basketball team,” John Olenowski, Manhattan head women’s basketball coach, said.

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Jaspers bitten by inju– [Lions], again

On a play most basketball practice constantly, Columbia University’s Grant Mullins passed a bullet into the chest of Peter Barba who quickly threw a sharp lob to the left corner arc where Luke Petrasek awaited a chance to win the game with about seven seconds remaining in regulation.

With his team down two, 71-70, Petrasek hoisted his 6 foot 10 inch frame over Manhattan College’s Zane Waterman — scored a career high 22 points — for an attempted 3-pointer. Swish. He gestures a modest fist-pump to himself and points to his teammates as he runs back on defense.

Luke Petrasek boxing out Carlton Allen during the second-half of Columbia’s, 72-71, win over Manhattan. Photo taken by Kevin Fuhrmann.
Luke Petrasek boxing out Carlton Allen during the second-half of Columbia’s, 72-71, win over Manhattan. Photo taken by Kevin Fuhrmann.

On the other end, Manhattan’s Tyler Wilson brings it up court frantically as the clock whittles down from five seconds. He shoots a pass down-low to a triple-teamed Rich Williams, who tries to draw the foul at first, but when he doesn’t get the call he tries to bank a layup off the glass to no avail.

When the buzzer went off Columbia found itself back over the .500 mark at 6-5 with the, 72-71, win over the now 1-6 Manhattan.

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EXCLUSIVE: Where in the world is Jermaine Lawrence?

Manhattan College has been hindered by injuries to start off its ’15-’16 road to a third-straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title, appearing in the last three and having won two of those championship games. Those bitten by the bug have cut deeply into the staple depth of its roster.

Steve Masiello, head men’s basketball coach, has been able to dress as little as six players to as many as nine out of the potential 14. He has been asked repeatedly, in many different ways, at almost every post-game press conference how much of an impact the lack of a rotation and overuse, in terms of minutes, of players such as Shane Richards has had.

“The game is changed, in the sense that as coaches we got to watch what we do with injuries,” Masiello said after the Nov. 28, 87-64, loss to Bronx rival Fordham University. “How much we push, look into things. … Some seem like they’re going to be some time and others seem more of the nagging type. We haven’t been able to practice in probably, I’d say, 12 days. We only have five or six bodies. We’re bringing in Rhamel Brown to practice. It’s what it is. I’m trying, hoping we can get back. I’m trusting the training staff to do what we need to do to get guys back, but I just go on with what I’m told.”

A player name he has mentioned quite frequently as someone it could use is now former student-athlete Jermaine Lawrence. He’s not a former Jasper because he has transferred or graduated. It’s due to his withdrawal from Manhattan after finding out he’d be suspended for half of the season.

All of this after Lawrence was told in September, when he tested positive for marijuana, that he’d only miss the Nov. 9 exhibition game against Adelphi and that he’d be enrolled in the drug counseling and treatment program at St. John’s Riverside Hospital. Everything just said is the equivalent of a first positive test result.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported in a letter he obtained by him sent to Lawrence on Sept. 4 “it was documented that a second positive test would result in a 50 percent reduction in athletic scholarship aid.”

Steve Masiello and his coaching staff can only watch as Manhattan eventually loses to Fordham by 23 points. Photo taken by Jon Reyes.

Now is when the story rewinds to last February. Masiello sat Lawrence out of one game for an undisclosed incident — due to legal ramifications — that occurred off the court. Lawrence and his family understood school penalty and complied. But over the next five games he had yet to check into a game.

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Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Dreams of winning while at Disney World

This is a column that takes a look at all of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s soccer teams throughout the course of the ’15 season.

In a year when we could safely assume who the MAAC regular season title champions were going to be — Monmouth University — by the end of September, which is about a quarter of the way through. The conference was still unsurprisingly, to at least one coach: Iona College head soccer coach Fernando Barboto, competitive.

At the start of non-conference play, he said “last year the conference had a really good year” and predicted “the league is going to be even stronger this year.” He was half-right. Six teams had winning records, both last season and the one we just had. So the MAAC had another “really good year” but it wasn’t “even stronger.” The last time the conference had less than five teams with winning records was in ’12 when there was four. It has had consistent competitiveness since.

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Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Seeding out personal goals

This is a column that takes a look at all of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s men’s soccer teams throughout the course of the ’15 season.

With the MAAC regular season coming to an end, the teams with the best records are Monmouth University — clinched regular season title, Rider, Iona College and Marist. Two takeaways from those four is Monmouth, who are the defending conference champions, and Quinnipiac not seeding at the top.

The former is self-explanatory, as for the latter, the simple reason is that Cesar Markovic, Siena head soccer coach, told “The ‘J’ Effect” this a few weeks ago:

“The MAAC is up for grabs. You have your usual suspects but you also have some teams that can surprise people from the bottom. The preseason poll is worthless, it doesn’t mean anything. The first or second conference games don’t exactly decide everything. If you check back around game five or six, that’s when you really start to see who’s shaping up and what’s happening.”

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Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Mountain Hawks are regular season champions… so far

This is a column that takes a look at all of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s soccer teams throughout the course of the ’15 season.

The non-conference matches have come and gone. Conference play is finally here. This is when the win-loss record begins to matter

Monmouth University, Marist College, Siena, Iona and Saint Peter’s are the current top five seeds in the MAAC, in that order. Although the teams mentioned are in the upper-echelon, the conference is tightly contested based on the margins of wins; losses; and draws. In the words of the recently passed Yankees legend Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

The teams at the bottom have been faced with loss after loss with a couple of frustrating draws sprinkled in. One of those is Niagara, led by second-year head coach Eric Barnes, who said his squad was tested during non-conference but now feels prepared and complete, in terms of his roster.

“We haven’t gotten the results that we would like,” he said, “but we’ve been dealing with a couple of injuries. We should have everyone back and healthy by conference, so that’ll be helpful. The guys have really stuck together even with the results. They’ve bought into what we’re trying to do, so we should be good to go going forward.”

Meza running the ball down field against Lehigh on Sept. 2. Photo taken by Kevin Furhmann.
Meza running the ball down field against Lehigh on Sept. 2. Photo taken by Kevin Furhmann.

Manhattan is similar to Niagara in that its games haven’t gone the way that it’d like them to go. Jose Meza, Manhattan midfielder/forward, said the 2-2 draw with NJIT on Sept. 20 showed when the team controls possession, allows time, creates chances and lands shots on goal it can reach its ceiling.

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Source: Jaspers & Gaels are dark horses for MAAC title

The Manhattan College turnover started in spring ‘14 when it said goodbye to seniors Chris Calabro, its captain; Paul Toohey; and Jonathan Feuer. Veteran leadership responsibilities were automatically handed down to Mike Giannico, James Edgeworth and Ross Ketner. They were set to be role-models to the incoming freshman class of Ryan Lynch, Johnny Schob, Charles Seward and Jonny Slater.

The following spring, Manhattan added Jon Keyes, a Coastel Carolina transfer. He helped lead the team to a seventh place finish in the MAAC championship tournament. A more noticeable change came a week later: Jerry Wood, head golf coach of four years, announced his retirement.

Wood declined to comment on his decision to retire, how well off he thinks he left the team and his thoughts on how the MAAC will shape-out this season.

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Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Jasper senior co-captain, Alex Shackley, on the ’15 season’s outlook

Disclaimer: This interview was conducted prior to the start of the ‘15 MAAC men’s soccer season.

If there ever was to be a definition for how ‘14 was for Manhattan College last season. Look no further than the second to last “Back of the Net” column “Season Meanings.” Its opening read as follows:

The Manhattan Jaspers found themselves looking up at every other school in the MAAC after failing to win 12 straight games from early September to late October. … To this point in the season, the offense was inconsistent. They went through a 587-minute goalless streak in a span of six games and followed that up with only three goals in the five games leading up to Niagara. … Throughout the entire season, Scott’s message was about how all it took for either team playing on the soccer field was one mistake, one moment of brilliance, one horrific decision.

Three games into ‘15, Manhattan is off to an 0-3 start. Jon Reyes recently conducted a conference call interview with one of the team’s midfielders, Alex Shackley, to discuss the state of the squad going forward.

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Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Mountain Hawks set up for repeat?

This is a column that takes a look at all of the MAAC men’s soccer teams throughout the course of the season and off-season.

As the ‘14 regular season came to a close, Quinnipiac University had to have felt pretty good about itself heading into the postseason as the No. 1 seed in the MAAC conference. Its goal, as is every other teams’, is to win the MAAC final for the championship title. It lost to Fairfield on penalty kicks, 3-1, before it could even think of a rematch with Monmouth.

Monmouth won its match against Iona College, 2-1, to advance and face-off with Fairfield in the championship. On a Dave Nigro golden goal in the 104th minute, Monmouth won 2-1. For its stay in the NCAA tournament, that didn’t last long because it lost in double overtime to No. 14 nationally ranked Xavier in the first round 2-1. Talk about irony to win or lose by the same exact score.

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‘Til baseball do us part: The battery

Baseball can’t be played without a pitcher or catcher.

Without his catcher, a pitcher has no one to throw to and create a pace of game with. And for a catcher without his pitcher, he has no one to give pitch signs to and to keep in check throughout a game.

“For those two positions to really be in sync, it’s what makes the team go,” former Manhattan College pitching coach Justin Echevarria said. “So that’s why it’s called the battery. Without those two guys, there really is no season. … You’re only as good as they are.”

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Trevor Glassman: A humble, hyped bench player

Finalist at the ’15 “The Quadrangle” staff awards.

In July ’11, Trevor Glassman’s aunt, Ivy Siegle, died of breast cancer.

At the time of her funeral, he was at AAU nationals with his team Bishop Elite. When he realized he would miss out on his aunt’s ceremony, he cried before and after games but knew she would want him to play and perform well, Trevor says.

“Listen, you’re at AAU nationals you don’t need to come to the funeral,” his father Stuart recalled telling Trevor, “because you were there when she was alive. But win a game for her with your team.”

His team won.

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