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.