This article was nominated as a finalist at “The Quadrangle” 2014 staff awards.
As the 2014 MAAC Championships come closer, Manhattan College men’s basketball may be a longshot to make the NCAA Tournament and win a game or two there.
Luckily for the Jaspers, they have the longshot specialist.
At 6 feet 5 inches and 185 pounds with long arms to boot, sophomore Shane Richards is seen as a player with great size. On-court his size adds to his quiet passion for basketball, a game that he discovered through his dad and through playing baseball as a kid.
His size and passion are on full display when his intense focus and hunger to win come off the bench. He comes off making one three-pointer after the other because of his similar competitiveness, work ethic and effort off-court.
His talent for shooting and making three pointers has made its way into how other teams in the MAAC form a strategy when coming up against MC.
“Richards is an unbelievable three-point shooter,” Illinois State University men’s basketball head coach Dan Muller said. “Our strategy when facing Manhattan is to try to make him dribble and to limit him from doing what he does, and that’s primarily shooting threes.”
When Richards was a player at York Prep high school under head coach Doug Hill he was the team’s main offensive source for points. In his senior year he averaged 29.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, four assists and shot 54 percent.
In his freshman season at Manhattan, Richards averaged 7.2 points, shot 41 percent from the floor and shot 40 percent from behind the three-point line in 20.5 minutes. He was also named MAAC co-rookie of the year alongside Amadou Sidibe from Fairfield University.
Through about 27 games into his sophomore season he’s averaged 8.7 points, shot 40 percent from the floor and 41 percent behind the three-point line in 21.3 minutes.
Richards knows his role on the team and is comfortable with it, which shows in his interactions with his teammates and his play. He’s not afraid to be the one to open his mouth and yell during practice or in-game amongst all of the intensity to get his teammates’ attention. And he’s constantly looking for three-point shot opportunities with calm and never forces the issue.
Richards grew up in Manhattan. During his childhood he always looked to surround himself with positive influences that have made him into the person that he is today. One of those people is his dad, who also was a successful athlete.
“He always gives me advice on stuff and pushes me to be the best person I could be,” Richards said.
But even with his influences his competitiveness off-court has translated on. When on-court he’s a competitive perfectionist, but when off Richards comes across as private but once one begins to know and understand him something is unveiled.
“He’s a fun kid. He’s a big practical joker. He’s a great personality,” men’s basketball Coach Steve Masiello said. “He has a great toughness that people don’t know. He has this boyish look, but he has inner toughness.”
Richards’ on-court and off-court personalities have helped him become a key player on a team that is comprised of talent, three of which are graduating seniors: Michael Alvarado, George Beamon and Rhamel Brown.
Brown, a friend of Richards off-court, said Richards “takes it to the next level” from his off-court downtime of cracking jokes and excitement for the movie “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”
“He’s a big piece to our team,” Brown said. “People outside the team only see him as a shooter. But they don’t know his real values. He talks, leads the team and does all the little things that we need to do.”
Masiello said that Richards fits into the mold of a specialist but that he can do so much more. His size is something that a lot of people don’t talk about yet it helps his on-court play into being a terrific passer, able to read the floor well, an off the dribble ball-handler and shooter and an underrated defender. And off-court he has an understanding of passing lanes and scouting reports.
“Even though he might be having a bad shooting outing,” Masiello said. “We keep him on the court because of the other things he can do.”
Both the tangibles and intangibles that Richards brings to the team one would assume that he’s a starter. But last season he only started eight games and through six games this season he hasn’t started a single game.
Masiello said that the reason behind him not starting is because Richards doesn’t like starting. He’d rather sit and watch to understand and get a feel for what’s going on in-game first before entering.
“He’s probably, of all the guys on the team, the biggest perfectionist, almost to a fault,” Masiello said, “He doesn’t allow himself to enjoy the good that he does. We have to constantly remind him that in this game you’re going to fail more than you succeed.”