Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — Iona’s dynamic offense rolled through Long Island University for 100 points Monday night, and LIU coach Jim Ferry said afterward the Gaels could keep on rolling into an NCAA Tournament run.
“That is one of the most dynamic offensive teams I’ve seen in maybe 10 years,” Ferry said after Iona destroyed LIU, 100-84, for their second straight 100-plus point game. “All their pieces just really fit.
“That’s a five seed. I mean, I don’t want to put any pressure on them, but come on.”
Iona is averaging 95.4 points per game and already owns a 26-point win over Maryland and a 5-point double-overtime win over St. Joe’s to go with a 91-90 loss to Purdue in Puerto Rico.
After winning the Northeast Conference championship last year, LIU made the Big Dance and promptly ran into North Carolina in the first round.
Ferry went so far as to compare Iona’s up-tempo offense to that of the Tar Heels.
“We played North Carolina last year in the NCAA Tournament and they really pushed the basketball,” said Ferry, whose team was picked to win the NEC this year but is now 2-4. “These guys push the basketball but they have so many weapons all over the place.”
Iona (4-1) took 84 shots from the field, making 42 of them, and dished out 28 assists.
“I don’t want to say they remind me of my team from last year because they’re better than my team last year,” Ferry said.
Mike Glover led the attack with 28 points and 14 rebounds and Scott Machado had another double-double with 14 points, 10 assists and 5 turnovers.
“[Glover] is an athlete,” said Machado, who put up 41 assists and six turnovers in three games during the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. “Today he wasn’t really catching some of my passes. I don’t know if it was me or it was him, but it happens. But he had a good game, though.”
Ferry said Machado is in the same category as North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall in terms of the best floor generals in the country.
“Kendall’s a lot bigger, but yeah, I think Scott’s phenomenal,” Ferry said. “I don’t see why not. I mean, this kid statistically he’s going to have unbelievable stat but they’re not padded. And yeah, he’s got great players around him but he’s using those great players. And a lot of kids are stubborn and won’t.”
Added Iona coach Tim Cluess: “Right now, he’s playing as well as any point guard in America.
“He’s tremendous right now. Making shots and getting people easy shots and defending. He’s got an all-around game and his leadership qualities are at a whole ‘nother level.”
Lamont “Momo” Jones is still finding his groove after transferring from Arizona and obtaining a waiver to play immediately, but added 8 points and a career-high 6 assists.
Junior college forward Taaj Ridley is a big, agile body who chipped in with 14 points despite a dislocated finger. And Jermel Jenkins scored 13 points, hitting 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, off the bench. Nine Iona players scored, eight of whom tallied at least 5 points.
“They have three high-major players, let’s not forget,” Ferry said. “Glover to the Big East [Seton Hall] and Momo to Arizona and Machado belongs there, too. I mean, to be in the MAAC with that team, that’s awesome for them.”
Iona is especially motivated to make the NCAAs after losing in the MAAC conference championship to St. Peter’s last year, and then losing in the CollegeInsider.com final to Santa Clara.
“Yeah, we lost two championships last year,” Machado said. “The regular MAAC championship and the CIT championship. And we know how it feels and we don’t like it.”
Glover’s 2-year-old son, Mike Jr., watched his father help rack up 100 points for the second straight game.
“He just said, ‘Good game, he loves me,”” said Glover, who hopes to play professionally next year to support his family.
Glover was flattered by the talk of being a No. 5 seed, but said his team is just focused on the next game on the schedule.
“It’s an honor to be talked about being in the tournament, but as of right now we’re just taking it one game at a time,” he said.
Iona will play eight straight road games during the month of December, and doesn’t return home until Jan. 6 against Siena. “I think December’s going to be a pretty much important month for us,” Glover said. “I think it’s going to test us out and see where we’re at mentally and physically. It’s pretty much getting us ready for conference play.”…Four members of the Monroe College team, the No. 1 junior college program in the nation, attended the game with assistant coach Brock Erickson. Among them was 6-9 forward Orlando Sanchez, who is considering several schools, including Iona…Jamal Olasewere led LIU with 20 points, C.J. Garner added 18 and Julian Boyd 13.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.