John Clay's notes: Ex-Cat Masiello flips script quickly at Manhattan

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistMarch 12, 2014 

Manhattan Louisville Basketball

Manhattan head basketball coach and former UK walk-on Steve Masiello has the Jaspers headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004. He inherited a team that three years went 6-25.

TIMOTHY D. EASLEY — AP

Random notes:

■ Huge congrats to former Kentucky walk-on Steve Masiello, who coached Manhattan to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004 when the Jaspers beat Iona in the finals of the MEAC Tournament.

Three years ago, Masiello took over a Manhattan program that went 6-25. His team reached the tournament finals last year only to come up short. Not this year.

■ Even if Florida loses in the SEC Tournament, I'd put the Gators as the No. 1 overall seed on Sunday.

■ People forget that way back on Dec. 30, Tennessee killed Virginia 87-52.

■ Did you know that UK has entered the post-season unranked six of the last year nine years? That includes Tubby Smith's last two seasons as the Kentucky coach, Billy Gillispie's only two seasons as the Kentucky coach and now the last two seasons.

■ Interesting stat: A grand total of 42 players have appeared in at least one game since John Calipari became the UK coach five years ago. A grand total of 28 of the 42 have played just one season.

John Feinstein wrote a blog post for CBS Sports on Wednesday in which he said he thought John Calipari was underrated as a coach and as a person, but thought Cal had changed for the worse. The reason? Feinstein wondered if after winning the title in 2012, Calipari didn't fall in love with himself.

Scottie Wilbekin was the right pick for SEC Player of the Year. And, it should be noted again, Wilbekin was a two-star recruit coming out of high school in Gainesville.

■ Did you see where the NCAA ruled that Baylor cannot wear jerseys that say "Sic 'em Bears" on the chest? Can the NCAA now please ban dark jerseys with dark numbers or light jerseys with light numbers? Thank you.

■ I wasn't as surprised by John Calipari's "tweak" comment on his Monday radio call-in show as I was that Calipari was actually on his Monday radio call-in show.

■ I'd love to see Cal on an episode of Between Two Ferns.

■ If Phil Jackson becomes the Knicks president, I would think that would make it less likely that Calipari would end up as the coach in New York.

■ By the way, anyone who thinks Cal should be on the hot seat or fired for the disappointments of the last two seasons has lost touch with reality.

■ Why does a 10-person NCAA Tournament Selection Committee have to meet in Indianapolis for four days to do what Joe Lunardi does all by himself?

■ Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News reports that SEC basketball attendance averaged 10,380 fans per home game this season, which is on pace to be the league's lowest since 1984-85. Potential NIT homes games could change the final average. Kentucky's average ended up down 1 percent from a year ago.

■ MLB is right around the corner and if you are a Reds fan you have to be encouraged by what Billy Hamilton is doing in Goodyear, Ariz. Reports say he has been patient at the plate as the leadoff hitter. His bunting skills have improved.

■ The Bengals losing defensive end Michael Johnson in free agency to Tampa Bay is no small departure.

■ Did you know the NCAA is kicking off the football season on Aug. 23 with Sam Houston State playing Eastern Washington? Why? Because ESPN is paying them money, that's why.

As Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times points out, Sam Houston State doesn't begin classes until Sept. 8. Eastern Washington doesn't start classes until Sept. 25.

But it's all about the student-athletes.

■ Congrats to the one and only Rick Reilly, who announced Wednesday that at the end of June, he will no longer do his weekly ESPN column.

Love Reilly or hate Reilly, at his best he was ridiculously talented and entertaining.

John Clay: 859-231-3226. E-mail: jclay@herald-leader.com. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv.

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