A group of 19 athletes and their coaches from The Harvey School received some special treatment last Thursday from an old friend — Manhattan College coach Steve Masiello, a 1996 graduate of the Katonah prep school.
Masiello, the second-year coach who led the Jaspers to a 21-win season last year, played host to Harvey’s boys and girls varsity basketball players prior to his team’s game against a big MAAC rival, Rider College. Before he addressed the visitors from his alma mater, coach Masiello asked two of his key players to meet them and answer questions.
Gathered in the media room, the Harvey players listened attentively as junior forward co-captain Rhamel Brown of Brooklyn and sophomore guard Donovan Kates of Kentucky talked about their college experiences and answered questions from their young visitors.
“The most important thing I’ve learned in college,” said Brown, “was that hard work equals success.”
He said the biggest difference between playing in a college program and his experience as a high school player was that playing basketball for Manhattan has taught him “so much more about life.” He said he has also learned that he is “a student first and an athlete second.”
Kates said playing for a college team has taught him about the importance of team bonding.
“Everybody needs to be there for everyone,” he said. “Everyone has a role to play whether they start or sit on the bench.”
Kates said the biggest difference between playing high school athletics and college is the intensity.
“Everything is more intense — practices, games, and your coaches’ expectations.”
When it was coach Masiello’s turn to address the Harvey players, he spoke on the theme of passion.
“If you’re passionate about what you’re doing,” the coach said, “you give yourself the best chance for success.”
Masiello said his passion is basketball.
“If you have a passion for what you do, whatever it is, good things will come.”
A lot of good things have come coach Masiello’s way since helping Harvey to win the New England Prep School Championship in 1995 as a junior, after having transferred from Stepinac.
Masiello, a White Plains native, scored more than 1,000 points in his two years at Harvey. He went on to play four years at the University of Kentucky, where he experienced a national championship in 1998 and served as co-captain his senior year.
After serving six years as an assistant to Rick Pitino at Louisville, Masiello took on the head coach’s job at Manhattan last year and was named 2011-12 Co-Coach of the Year by the Metropolitan Writers Association.
When Harvey sophomore Ricky Hicks asked Coach Masiello how a 15-year-old can be more mature, he said: “Stop hanging with 15-year-olds.”
He explained, “Don’t just hang with your peers. Spend some time with older people, including teachers and coaches.”
He also advised each player to spend an hour a day watching YouTube videos of a great professional player and try to emulate his style. He said when Kobe Bryant was younger he studied Michael Jordan every chance he could, “which helped him become as great as he is.”
Harvey’s first-year varsity basketball coach Dom Narcisco was grateful for the experience of having his players meet the Manhattan players and their coach.
“I think the kids learned a lot to take home with them,” he said. “The entire experience will help them both as players and as young people.”
The Harvey players stayed for Manhattan’s game and got a taste of the intensity of Division 1 basketball. Unfortunately, the Jaspers came up short, losing to Rider 69-60.