#97 Iona: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #97
Conference Rank: #2 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
2009-10: 21-10, 12-6
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Tim Cluess (First year at Iona, 0-0 overall)
Iona had one of the best turnarounds in the nation, moving from a 12 win team in 2008-2009 to a 21 win team a year ago. That success prompted Coach Kevin Willard to make the jump to Seton Hall and the Gaels settled on Tim Cluess to continue the success of the Gaels program. And with such a young squad last year and the loss of just two players on a team that had ten players average at least 11 minutes per game, the good times should keep going.
Key Losses: F Jonathan Huffman, G Milan Prodanovic
This is already a young team. Last year they usually started four underclassmen. That gives shooting guards Randy Dezouvre and Sean Armand, along with forward Aleksander Kesic hope that they can play their way into the regular rotation, but the Gaels certainly do not have to rely upon the newcomers for any production. Dezouvre, a junior college transfer, has the most potential to make an impact right away, but it will not be easy for him to find minutes in a talented backcourt.
Dezouvre will have to compete with Kyle Smith, Jermel Jenkins, Rashon Dwight, Rashard McGill and Trinity Fields for playing time on the wings. Smith turned into a superb outside shooter during his freshman campaign and ended the year shooting an impressive 42.5 percent from beyond the arc. Jenkins is a fine point guard who can do some scoring, but yet again he will be relegated to the bench in favor of Scott Machado. There could be times when those two are on the floor together which would give Iona a couple fine ball handlers. The addition of Dwight into the starting lineup is what really jolted the Gaels in 2009. Dwight is not particularly great at any one thing, but he is an all-around quality player who will provide plenty of hustle and leadership. McGill and Fields will likely have to come off the bench again, but both had their moments last year and can come in and knock down some long balls.
Alejo Rodriguez finished the year averaging 9.0 points and 7.5 rebounds, but by the end of his junior campaign he was a double-double machine. If that trend continues in 2010-2011, he could be an all-conference performer. Mike McFadden will likely be the other starter in the frontcourt. McFadden tallied 24 starts as a freshman and should step into a fulltime starting role this season. For being thrown into the fire as a freshman, McFadden did quite well. He still needs to develop his offense and getting stronger on the glass, but he will do the dirty work and free up Rodriguez in the paint. Without Jonathan Huffman, the frontcourt depth is a small concern. Chris Pelcher did not play much as freshman, but he will have to step up and play around a dozen minutes per game.
Who to Watch:
It is Machado who makes this team tick. He led the team in points, assists, steals and free-throw shooting last year. There is no doubt Machado is a superb player who can do everything for this team. The 6-1 junior is not a great outside shooter, but he can keep the opposing defense honest by knocking down the occasional long ball. Machado does most of his scoring by attacking the basket. The problem is Iona relies too heavily on Machado. Some of the other players, especially in the backcourt, need to be more consistent. And just as importantly, Machado needs to recognize the emerging talent around him and not force the issue when he could be setting up his teammates.
This is a good team that should compete with Fairfield, St. Peter’s and Siena for the top spot in the Metro Atlantic Athletic table. The loss of Huffman may not be a huge deal, but the team does need to find some quality depth in the frontcourt. Coach Cluess may not utilize as many players as Coach Willard did last year and that could end up being good for team chemistry. Last year Coach Willard had to spend some time finding the right pieces and started 11 different players. This year the pieces are all in place and that should make Coach Cluess’ job much easier.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Scott Machado, Junior, Guard, 12.5 ppg
Kyle Smith, Sophomore, Guard, 8.1 ppg
Rashon Dwight, Senior, Guard, 5.6 ppg
Mike McFadden, Sophomore, Forward, 4.6 ppg
Alejo Rodriguez, Senior, Forward, 9.0 ppg
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