Pitino Told Masiello South Florida is 'A Grand Slam' (UPDATED) | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / November 30.
  • Pitino Told Masiello South Florida is ‘A Grand Slam’ (UPDATED)

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    Steve MasielloBy JOSH NEWMAN & ADAM ZAGORIA

    After winning the MAAC Tournament and taking reigning national champion Louisville to the limit in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday evening, Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello has emerged as a serious candidate for the head-coaching vacancy at South Florida, Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com is reporting.

    According to Parrish, among the influential people supporting Masiello’s candidacy is Tampa resident and Outback Steakhouse co-founder Chris Sullivan, a close friend of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino.

    According to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, Masiello asked Pitino, “What do you think (about the USF job)?”

    Pitino responded: “I said, ‘For you, it’s a grand slam.'”

    Masiello, a one-time Pitino assistant, has won 60 games over three seasons in Riverdale, including a 25-8 mark and the aforementioned MAAC Tournament title in 2013-14. Seeded 13th in the Midwest Region, the Jaspers fell to the Cardinals, 71-64, on Thursday evening in a Teacher vs. Pupil matchup with Pitino.

    At the age of 36, Masiello has long been considered an elite recruiter and a rising star in the coaching industry. The White Plains native has two years remaining on his original five-year deal, which he signed upon his arrival at Manhattan in 2011.

    “I feel very confident that I will be back at Manhattan College as the coach and I look forward to working with a great group of young men that are returning,” Masiello told the New York Post on Friday. “This is where I want to be. I want to be in New York. I want to be with these kids. I’m really excited about the future of this program.”

    The timing of Masiello’s possible departure coincides with Manhattan about to lose a standout senior class, which includes point guard Michael Alvarado, All-MAAC first team selection George Beamon and three-time MAAC Defensive Player of the Year Rhamel Brown.

    That said, South Florida hasn’t been an easy place to win recently. In seven seasons at the helm, Stan Heath went to the NCAA Tournament just once and finished with a sub-.500 record five times. The Bulls went 12-19 overall and 3-15 in the American Athletic Conference this season.

    “He has to go if they offer,” a Division I head coach told SNY.tv. “He is losing his best players to graduation. He may not be in this position next year.”

    “He should wait for something better,” another Division I head coach told SNY.tv.

    Manhattan is expected to return 10 letterwinners, including sharpshooting sophomore guard Shane Richards and redshirt sophomore big man Ashton Pankey.

    The Jaspers have four Class of 2014 commitments in Samson Akilo, Samson Usilo, Calvin Crawford and Zane Waterman. Masiello also has a pledge from 2015 Spring Valley (N.Y.) High School point guard Rickey McGill Jr. 

    Follow Josh Newman on Twitter