LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Even under perfect circumstances, Manhattan coach Steve Masiello knew it would be extremely difficult to knock off No. 2 Louisville.
The past few weeks have been anything but perfect for the Jaspers.
Manhattan lost 79-51 to Louisville in Sunday's season opener. But the Jaspers have been dealing with more serious concerns.
The first was Superstorm Sandy that crippled New York City, followed days later by a Nor'easter. Manhattan's only exhibition game against C.W. Post was cancelled due to issues surrounding the storms.
"This is the first time we've played under lights," Masiello said.
Then the Jaspers' leading scorer, senior guard George Beamon, injured his ankle on Friday and didn't play.
Masiello described the scene at Manhattan: a fallen tree pulled down power lines that knocked out electricity. That caused his team to practice in "probably 12 different gyms" before Sunday.
"I give our kids so much credit because not one time did they make an excuse. They just did everything that I asked," Masiello said. "Really, basketball was secondary. We were concentrating more on life."
Manhattan returned its entire starting lineup from last year's 21-13 team but missed Beamon, its top scorer at 19 points per game last season and a preseason all-Metro Atlantic Conference selection.
"It was a fluke thing," Masiello said, noting that the team had no time to make adjustments following the injury. "We were practicing at a gym that wasn't ours and he slipped and fractured his ankle."
Center Rhamel Brown carried Manhattan in Beamon's absence, scoring 18 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.
"This kid is Superman right here," Masiello said of Brown. "When he decides to play and stays out of foul trouble, he's really tough to stop."
Russ Smith scored 23 points and Peyton Siva added 10 points and 10 assists for Louisville, which pulled away from after leading 28-19 at halftime.
The Cardinals won despite continuing woes with their 3-point shooting. They went 8 for 30, with Smith making 4 of 13.
Siva, the Most Outstanding Player in last season's Big East Conference tournament, matched his career high in assists while recording only his second double-double.
Michael Alvarado added 13 for Manhattan.
The schools played for the first time since the 2002-03 season. This was the first time Masiello coached against Louisville, where he was an assistant under Rick Pitino from 2005-11.
Louisville forced 27 Manhattan turnovers and held the Jaspers to 36 percent shooting.
"That was some homecoming," Masiello joked. "We struggled to find our flow offensively."
Smith had considered transferring to Manhattan to follow Masiello. The coach thought it was a done deal.
"He was coming to Manhattan," he said. "I thought we had him."
Smith decided to stay and his shooting boosted Louisville against his would-be destination. The Cardinals were just 8 of 30 from 3-point range but Smith hit four of those shots from behind the arc to help his team pull away.
"Russ rushes too much in a hurry," Pitino said. "But everything he does in his life is in a hurry."
Everything except Smith's decision to stay at Louisville, that is.
"I know everybody at Manhattan," Smith said. "I know Mass (Masiello). My dad knows him well. But I really never even considered it.
"To be serious, we had talks. But I know the coach and the staff. I didn't want to (go), I didn't want to leave. I've never left anywhere since high school. Keeping some stability and staying was best for my career."
Manhattan got within 30-22 before Louisville went on a 10-1 run and steadily pulled away after that.