#81 Iona Men's Basketball Preview

Iona Gaels

Overall Rank: #81
Conference Rank: #2 Metro Atlantic
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2010-11: 25-12, 13-5
2010-11 postseason: CIT
Coach: Tim Cluess (25-12 at Iona, 25-12 overall)

Iona made a nice run in the CIT under first year coach Tim Cluess and that has boosted expectations heading into 2010-2011. But the expectations should be high…very high with the amount of talent this team possesses. Mike Glover is the superstar of the Gaels after averaging 18.4 points and 10.1 rebounds during his junior campaign. Glover, at 6-7, is not the biggest player around, but he can battle with anybody under the basket. Glover has the potential to average 20 and 10 this year and his ability to stay on the floor and out of foul trouble will be crucial if the Gaels want to win the conference crown.

Who’s Out:
The problem is the lack of experienced depth in the frontcourt. Alejo Rodriguez teamed up with Glover last year and did a fine job helping out on the glass and opening up space for Glover. Even Chris Pelcher, who averaged just over nine minutes per game, will be missed. He rarely played because Glover can stay on the floor for 35 minutes per game and the Gaels had the talent to run a four guard offense at times, but his big body will be missed. Rashon Dwight’s departure will get overlooked, but he did start 25 games last season and was a pretty consistent outside shooter and a fine defender. The Gaels have the weapons, and then some, to replace him, so his absence will not be felt too much.

Who’s In:
The obvious need for this class was size and, preferably, experienced size. Coach Cluess hopes he got both with junior college transfer Nyandigisi Moikubo. The 6-7, 205 pound junior is a tough player who can battle in the paint and help out on the glass. On a team that may run four guards, having somebody who can be physical under the basket against certain opposition will be very beneficial. Taaj Ridley is another junior college transfer who could play at the four spot. Ridley is really a wing player, but at 6-7 he certainly has the size to play the four. That would at least give the Gaels some size when they play with a quicker lineup. Incoming freshman Josh Gomez is the biggest player on the roster at 6-10 and Kristian Duravcevic will add even more size to the bench. Gomez needs to add some strength and weight, but he could earn some playing time this year if he can prove that he can hit the glass. The big guys may be more important, but everybody is talking about Ra’Shad James and Lamont Jones. James is a junior college transfer who is making big strides over the summer. The 6-1 guard will battle for major minutes in an already crowded backcourt. That backcourt will get more crowded if Lamont Jones is deemed eligible for this season by the NCAA. Last season “Momo” Jones averaged 9.7 points per game for Arizona en route to an appearance in the Elite Eight. Iona is applying for a hardship waiver to get Jones eligible this season. If he is, Iona should run a four guard offense most of the time since finding a player who should not start out of that group is tough.

Who to Watch:  
The returning talent in the backcourt begins with do-it-all point guard Scott Machado. The 6-1 senior is coming off a year in which he averaged 13.2 points, 7.6 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals. He is one heck of a playmaker and can obviously finish himself when necessary. He will be the leader of this team for one more year. Kyle Smyth is the shooter. He knocked down over 39 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc last year and ranked third on the team with 10.1 points per game. Jermel Jenkins is a pretty good shooter too, but he can create his own shot as well and do more than just shoot the long ball. Despite the bountiful shooters already pegged for a starting gig, Sean Armand is the best shooter on the team. In limited action last season he knocked down 1.6 three-pointers per game. He was instant offense off the bench and he should be able to provide that again if he can find the floor.

Final Projection:
If Jones is eligible, this team will be tough to beat. They are a little thin on the interior, but Glover is certainly a force in the paint and will remain so even if Coach Cluess is pretty much forced, either by lack of frontcourt options or by pure talent in the backcourt, to run a four guard offense. Glover can get up and down the floor well enough to keep up with the guards. Rebounding and defense would be an issue at times, but the newcomers in the frontcourt should be able to provide enough to match up with the opposing team when they need to do so. Coach Cluess has options and they are all pretty good options. That is never a bad thing.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Scott Machado, Senior, Guard, 13.2 points per game
Jermel Jenkins, Senior, Guard, 9.2 points per game
Kyle Smyth, Junior, Guard, 10.1 points per game
Nyandigisi Moikubo, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Mike Glover, Senior, Forward, 18.4 points per game

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