If folks around Tacoma just happened to bump into Carlos Mancasola, the student at the University of Puget Sound, they would likely get a warm greeting, and engage in chatter about bird-watching or some of the best natural parks in America.
And if you happened to catch Mancasola, the UPS basketball player — and the team’s leading scorer — at a game in Memorial Fieldhouse, you might think he was a volcano just waiting to erupt.
Opponents in the Northwest Conference quickly know where they stand with Mancasola, the 6-foot-2 senior from Redding, California. He isn’t shy about telling them in a variety of ways.
“That’s just something I’ve always been as a person,” Mancasola said. “I am not passionate about everything, but the things I am, I pride myself in bringing a lot of energy and excitement to.”
Mancasola and the Loggers host cross-town rival Pacific Lutheran on Tuesday night in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Memorial Fieldhouse.
Outsiders might label Mancasola’s antics as a temper tantrum or blowing a fuse. Coach Justin Lunt calls it a much-needed “loud” voice that sparks energy with teammates.
“I love the kid, and respect him,” Lunt said. “He always has great things to say. He wants to win.”
That is not to say Mancasola is the easiest teammate to understand.
He started out playing at UC Davis where his brother, Paolo, was a starter. He spent two seasons at the Big West program before transferring to City College of San Francisco.
“We had seven guys go (NCAA Division I), so I thought I would get a lot of opportunities to be recruited,” Mancasola said. “And I had a great (2014-15) season. But the coach and I did not see eye-to-eye.”
Valuing a great education, Mancasola recalled being recruited by former UPS assistant Josh McLeod out of high school. He contacted Lunt to gauge the coach’s interest in a transfer to the Tacoma university.
Unlimited shooting range will get any coach’s attention, and Mancasola has that.
“I used to shoot with two hands, but I changed it during my freshman year,” Mancasola said. “Now, anything on the inside of half-court, I feel comfortable making. I’ve made one from 40 feet in a game before when my heels were on the half-court line.”
With the scoring came the outbursts. Lunt pointed to a home game last season against Pacific as a turning point in their working relationship.
“He wasn’t executing what we wanted on the defensive side, so I started barking at him. And (former point guard) Matt Reid barked at him as well. And he asked if I wanted to kick him out ... so I did, and he left the bench and went into the locker room,” Lunt said. “He just needed to cool off.”
When Mancasola returned, not only did he ratchet up the defensive intensity, he drilled six 3-pointers in leading the team to a runaway victory, 77-49.
The next morning, Lunt and Mancasola met for breakfast. The two had a chat about what happened the night before.
“We needed to get on the same page,” Lunt said. “I told him I didn’t sleep well when I had to go to a deep, dark place to get you to play hard and with a chip on your shoulder.”
The two never spoke of the outburst again.
“Coach (Lunt) just needed to know where I was coming from, and if that something was bothering me, we could work through it,” Mancasola said. “He has been the best at dealing with it. He lets me use it to my benefit, and be that kind of (emotional) person.”
PACIFIC LUTHERAN WOMEN (1-14, 0-6 NWC) at No. 18 PUGET SOUND (14-1, 6-0)
6 p.m. Tuesday, Memorial Fieldhouse, Tacoma
Statistical leaders: PLU—SG Samantha Kelleigh (11.9 ppg), C Marleisha Cox (5.4 rpg) and PG Kaelyn Voss (2.8 apg). UPS—PG Samone Jackson (16.5 ppg), F Alexis Noren/C Jamie Lange (6.5 rpg) and SG Caitlin Malvar/Noren (3.9 apg).
Skinny: Well, what is there to say about this installment of the rivalry game? Simply, the Loggers are thinking Northwest Conference title and NCAA Division III tournament berth, and the Lutes are hopefully building toward 2017-18 with a younger nucleus. For PLU to have any change of hanging in this game, Kelleigh must be a reliable scorer from the outside, and the Lutes must keep Lange, Elizabeth Prewitt and Claire Fitzgerald off the glass, denying UPS any second and third chances. Even if all that goes down, the fully-confident Loggers will still be tough to stop on their home court.
TNT pick: UPS, 80-61.
PACIFIC LUTHERAN MEN (7-8, 2-4 NWC) at PUGET SOUND (9-6, 2-4)
8 p.m. Tuesday, Memorial Fieldhouse, Tacoma
Statistical leaders: PLU—SG Brandon Lester (16.1 ppg) and PF Jared Christy (11.8 rpg, 3.7 apg). UPS—SG Carlos Mancasola (14.1 ppg) and PG Kohl Meyer (8.1 rpg, 4.5 apg).
Skinny: Both programs have shown flashes, but not enough consistently to close out games. Case in point: The Loggers and Lutes both had halftime leads over seven-time defending NWC champion Whitworth over the weekend; both were eventually defeated. This is a matchup full of guards — especially Lester and Mancasola, who can light it up from the outside. But the intriguing aspect to watch is what goes on down low with Christy, the conference’s leading rebounder, battling Kyle King, Zach Miller and Jeremiah Hobbs. The loser of this game will fall deeper into a hole to make the playoffs with the first half of the NWC season almost over.
TNT pick: UPS, 79-74.