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2018 NCAA Tournament: A First Look At Iona

The Gaels are not bad and while small, are dangerous.

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Iona v Syracuse
SYRACUSE, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Rickey McGill #0 of the Iona Gaels drives to the basket between Oshae Brissett #11 and Frank Howard #23 of the Syracuse Orange during the first half at the Carrier Dome on November 14, 2017 in Syracuse, New York.
Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

So what to make of Iona?

Well, the Gaels are best known around here for being Jim Valvano’s previous stop before he went to NC State, glory, then tragedy.

In case you were wondering, a Gael is simply a Gaelic speaker.

Iona competes in the MAAC which they have dominated. The Gaels have been to 13 NCAA tournaments.

Tim Cluess have been there for eight years and has been pretty successful. Interestingly, he played for St. John’s and was on the team that beat Duke twice in 1978-79.

He was the high school coach of former UNC star Danny Green and State’s Ilian Evtimov.

Iona likes to run and pushes the ball a lot. However, they’re not a great defensive team.

However they’ve given Syracuse a tough game this year and also Rhode Island. Iona lost to Syracuse 71-62 and Rhode Island 80-74.

Iona likes to pop threes and is pretty good at it but fairly typically for a smaller school, the Gaels are, well, small.

The starters are:

  • Guard Zach Lewis, 6-3, Sr. (9.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
  • Guard Rickey McGill, 6-1, Jr. (13.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.6 apg)
  • Guard/Forward E.J. Crawford, 6-6, So. (12.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
  • Forward TK Edogi, 6-8, Sr. (7.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 56.7 FG%)
  • Guard Schadrac Casimir, 5-10, Jr. (10.4 ppg)

Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter will be tough for them to manage. Duke is a far more talented team.

As we’ve pointed out since around 1999 though, a less talented team with more experience, trust and cohesion has a significant advantage over a more talented but young team.

We’ll have more on Iona soon.

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