College Sports

In battle of old UK basketball friends, EKU’s Dan McHale tops Manhattan’s Steve Masiello

McHale and Masiello on competition between friends

Eastern Kentucky coach Dan McHale and Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, who were together as part of UK's basketball program in the late '90s, talk about playing each other after EKU beat Manhattan 76-64 on Tuesday.
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Eastern Kentucky coach Dan McHale and Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, who were together as part of UK's basketball program in the late '90s, talk about playing each other after EKU beat Manhattan 76-64 on Tuesday.

The two came to the University of Kentucky in the late 1990s, a pair of hoops heads from the East Coast — Dan McHale from Chatham, N.J.; Steve Masiello from White Plains, N.Y. — with the same goal in mind.

“I think it’s a great story that two guys, 20 years ago, kind of went to college for this; 20 years later they’re living out their dreams,” Masiello said Tuesday. “Not to be corny, but how many people can say that?”

Those two can. McHale and Masiello attended UK to learn how to be a basketball coach from Rick Pitino, and Tuesday at Paul S. McBrayer Arena at Eastern Kentucky they were competing against each other as head coaches.

McHale, EKU’s first-year head coach, got the better of Masiello, Manhattan’s fifth-year coach, jumping out to an 18-0 lead on the way to a 76-64win in front of a matinee crowd announced at 1,150.

Hey, isn’t it true coaches don’t often like to coach against friends, especially ones as close as McHale and Masiello?

“I’d rather lose to Danny than lose to someone I don’t like,” Masiello said. “At least one of the guys I like gets to enjoy the night. I’d rather lose to him than some stranger I’ll never talk to again.”

I’d rather lose to Danny than lose to someone I don’t like. At least one of the guys I like gets to enjoy the night. I’d rather lose to him than some stranger I’ll never talk to again.

Manhattan Coach Steve Masiello on EKU Coach Dan McHale

In fact, an hour before the game the two were sitting in McHale’s office telling stories about their days at UK and their paths to where they are now.

“He’s like my big brother,” McHale said. “We’ve known each other for like 18 years now.”

Masiello came to UK in 1996 as a walk-on under first Pitino and then Tubby Smith. He was an administrative assistant under former Kentucky assistant Shawn Finney at Tulane before joining Bobby Gonzalez at Manhattan in 2001. Pitino brought Masiello to Louisville in 2005 before “Stevie Mass” returned to Manhattan as head coach in 2011. In four years there, he’s led the Jaspers to the NCAA Tournament the past two years.

McHale was a manager at UK, first under Pitino and then Smith, from 1997 through 2001. After starting out as a staff assistant for Pitino at Louisville, he became director of basketball operations at Manhattan under Gonzalez in 2004. McHale returned to Louisville as director of video operations in 2005. He followed Kevin Willard to Iona in 2007 and Seton Hall in 2010 before joining Richard Pitino at Minnesota in 2013.

After getting the Eastern Kentucky job this summer, McHale hired Michael Bradley, who played with Masiello at UK. Plus, McHale was best man at Manhattan assistant Matt Grady’s wedding. So it wasn’t long before McHale and Masiello signed a four-year deal to play each other.

Eastern Kentucky shot 59.4 percent the first half on the way to a 45-21 halftime lead.

“We were on the same staff together 12 years ago at Manhattan and we were on the same staff again at Louisville,” Masiello said. “As much as I try to hate my opponent for 40 minutes, it’s hard to hate Danny.”

Masiello paused.

“I hated him for the first 10. A lot,” he joked.

The Jaspers lost a key transfer before the season started and have suffered multiple injuries since. They brought eight scholarship players and a 3-7 record to Richmond and were no match for an Eastern team, now 9-6, that has benefited from a tough pre-Ohio Valley Conference schedule that included seven games on the road.

It took 5:34 before Manhattan finally scored. Eastern was already up 18. The Colonels led by 24 at the half. Manhattan played much better the second half, outscoring EKU 43-31.

“I knew they’d come back,” McHale said. “That’s what Stevie does.”

Masiello dismissed the idea of a moral victory, but did say, “I enjoyed today. I thought it was great day for us. I thought it was actually a great day, as crazy as this sounds, for UK.”

Besides, it’s always nice to catch up with an old friend.

“Hopefully next year when they come up to New York, we can repay them the great favor he did for us down here,” Masiello said with a smile.

EASTERN KY. 76, MANHATTAN 64

MANHATTAN

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

PF

PT

Waterman

23

8-13

4-5

7

2

4

23

Richards

37

3-9

5-7

6

1

2

13

Stores

25

3-7

2-4

2

3

2

11

Capuano

32

0-1

0-0

0

2

2

0

Akilo

11

0-0

0-0

2

0

1

0

Williams

28

4-11

0-0

9

3

3

9

Crawford

21

3-9

1-2

3

1

0

8

Wilson

23

0-1

0-2

2

5

3

0

Totals

200

21-51

12-20

33

17

17

64

Percentages: FG .412, FT .600. Three-point goals: 10-24, .417 (Waterman 3-4, Stores 3-6, Richards 2-6, Crawford 1-3, Williams 1-4, Capuano 0-1). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 2 (Waterman 2). Turnovers: 16 (Wilson 5, Williams 3, Capuano 3, Waterman 2, Akilo, Richards). Steals: 4 (Capuano 2, Williams, Waterman). Technical fouls: Capuano, Stores.

EASTERN KY.

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

PF

PT

Reischel

32

7-16

10-10

8

7

2

26

Hawkins

28

7-15

0-0

4

2

2

15

Mayo

29

3-6

2-2

4

1

1

8

Jackson

24

1-6

1-2

3

4

4

4

McGlone

28

0-3

0-0

3

4

5

0

Babb-Harrison

18

3-4

0-0

4

2

0

9

Pratt Jr.

15

4-5

0-0

2

1

2

8

King

5

2-3

0-1

5

0

1

4

Weaver

10

1-2

0-0

1

1

1

2

Powell

9

0-1

0-0

0

0

0

0

Matthews

2

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Totals

200

28-61

13-15

34

22

18

76

Percentages: FG .459, FT .867. Three-point goals: 7-23, .304 (Babb-Harrison 3-3, Reischel 2-7, Jackson 1-3, Hawkins 1-5, Weaver 0-1, Powell 0-1, McGlone 0-3). Team rebounds: 0. Blocked shots: 2 (Mayo, King). Turnovers: 9 (Reischel 4, Hawkins 2, Jackson, Mayo). Steals: 4 (Reischel 4). Technical fouls: Pratt Jr., Reischel.

Manhattan

21

43

64

Eastern Ky.

45

31

76

A—1,150. Officials—Jeb Hartness, John Campbell, Tommy Short.

Next game

Eastern Kentucky at Austin Peay

8 p.m. Saturday

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