Kentucky ties to Big Dance: Ex-Cat Masiello awed by Manhattan's 'amazing run'

March 16, 2014 

Outside of Kentucky's three teams — the Cats, Louisville and Eastern Kentucky — here's a few players and coaches to watch in this year's NCAA Tournament:

Manhattan

Former Kentucky walk-on Steve Masiello coached Manhattan to its first trip to the NCAA Tournament in a decade. The feat came at the expense of rival Iona one year after the Gaels beat the Jaspers for the league title.

Manhattan (25-7) defeated Iona 71-68 last Monday for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament title.

Masiello's Jaspers have won 11 of their last 12.

"This is just an amazing run," Masiello said last Monday. "It doesn't happen. It's storybook-like. Normally you have like two or three things that are wrong. There's nothing wrong."

Iona went into the conference finals leading the nation in three-point field goals made but finished 6-for-21.

"I said to them, this is Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos, and we're Seattle," Masiello told MassLive.com. "If we come out with the defensive mentality, we win."

During his playing career, Kentucky went to the Final Four twice (1997 and 1998), advancing to the national championship game both times and winning the title in 1998. Masiello was named the Cats' co-captain his senior year.

Masiello said coaching a team to the NCAA Tournament is just as special as his time at Kentucky.

"It's just been something I've been working my whole life to get to this point," Masiello told NBCSports.com. "I'm just fortunate to be around a lot of great people, who have helped me along the way, and who have meant the world to me. They've really taught me about coaching, basketball, life, and it's all helped me tremendously.

"I've been to two Final Fours and this is right there with it," Masiello said.

Masiello, in his third season at the helm with the Jaspers, was an assistant at Louisville for six seasons. He was also an assistant at Manhattan from 2001 to 2005.

■ Masiello has one Kentuckian on his roster: junior Donovan Kates, a four-year starter at Christian County High School.

Kates, who along with LSU's Anthony Hickey won a Sweet Sixteen title in 2011, averages 2.4 points and 1.5 rebounds and shoots 80.6 percent from the free-throw line (29-36). He plays 14.1 minutes per game.

Kates played more as a sophomore with 21 starts in 31 games. He averaged 6.7 points and 3.0 rebounds, and he shot 85.7 percent from free-throw line.

Cincinnati

Former Scott County standout Ge'Lawn Guyn started all 33 games for Cincinnati (27-6) this season.

Guyn averaged 4.6 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 19.1 minutes. The 6-foot-2 junior guard is third for the Bearcats in three-pointers with 29.

■ Zack Tobler is also on Cincinnati's roster. The 6-foot-5 freshman forward out of Covington Catholic has played in eight games and has two rebounds.

■ Bearcats Coach Mick Cronin was the associate head coach at Louisville (2001-03) and head coach at Murray State (2003-06).

Oklahoma State

Travis Ford's Cowboys lost 77-70 in overtime to Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals. His team came into the season with high hopes but finished the regular season 21-12.

"I like how we're playing," Ford said after his team's tournament loss, according to a report on OSUInsider.com. "I think there's some things we can do to adjust to get better. We gotta rebound the ball better, but I think we're playing well. The last five or six games, two games we've lost, we lost in overtime.

"And there's a lot of fight to us. So I think we're playing pretty good basketball."

Ford, who starred at North Hopkins High School, played at Kentucky from 1991 to 1994. He was head coach at Campbellsville from 1997-2000 and Eastern Kentucky from 2000 to 2005.

■ Ford Stuen, Travis Ford's nephew, is a walk-on for Oklahoma State. The former Henderson County star has scored five points in nine games.

Dayton

Former Lexington Catholic standout Vee Sanford is the Flyers' fourth-leading scorer at 9.9 points per game. Sanford started all 33 games and also averaged 2.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game for Dayton (23-10).

Massachusetts

Derrick Gordon, a former high school teammate of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who played one season at Western Kentucky, is the Minutemen's fourth-leading scorer at 9.3 per game. The sophomore also averages 3.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 steals.

Elsewhere

■ Former Kentucky star Mark Pope is an assistant coach at Brigham Young.

Pope has been with the Cougars since 2011. He has also been an assistant at Wake Forest and Georgia.

■ Dwight Perry, another ex-Cat, is the video coordinator for Virginia Commonwealth. He was a graduate assistant for the Rams the previous two seasons.

■ Xavier's Erik Stenger, a Northern Kentucky transfer, averaged 1.3 points in 7.1 minutes per game.

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