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Monday / December 18.
  • MAAC Coaches Say Iona Deserves At-Large Bid

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    Iona will likely face an all-or-nothing proposition when it heads into the MAAC Tournament this weekend in Springfield, Mass.

    As the league champion and No. 1 seed, the Gaels (24-6) need to win the tournament in order to get the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament because the MAAC likely won’t get an at-large bid. This despite Iona’s RPI of 41.

    “Not likely,” Jerry Palm of CollegeRPI.com told SNY.tv of the MAAC’s chances of getting an at-large bid.

    Not surprisingly, several MAAC coaches disagree.

    “If Iona does not win our tournament, Iona deserves an at-large bid,” said Loyola (Md.) coach Jimmy Patsos, whose team split a pair of games with Iona and is seeded No. 2 behind the Gaels.

    “I’ve been in this game a while because I was at Maryland for 13 years with Gary Williams. That Iona schedule they played, the way they play, the players they have, they should be in the NCAA Tournament regardless…They deserve to be in the Tournament no matter what happens. The rest of us are going to have to fight our way in.”

    Iona has been an offensive juggernaut under head coach Tim Cluess. The Gaels lead the nation in scoring (83.4 points per game) and assists (19.5) and are ranked second nationally in field goal percentage.

    Iona on Monday put three players on the All-MAAC teams. Senior point guard Scott Machado, the presumed Player of the Year in the conference, and senior forward Mike Glover were both selected to the All-MAAC 1st Team, while junior guard Lamont “Momo” Jones made the 2nd Team. Machado leads Division 1 in assists at 10.1 per game, while Glover ranks second in scoring (18.1 ppg) and rebounding (9.1) in the MAAC.

    Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, who split a pair of games with Iona this year, agreed with Patsos that Iona deserves an at-large bid.

    “I think Iona deserves to be in for two reasons,” Masiello said. “One, I think what coach Cluess did with his schedule, he needs to be rewarded for. He went out and played a very, very competitive schedule. They went and had some very, very tough road games and they have a very, very talented roster. They have high-major players.

    “You put those kids on a big stage against anyone in a tournament setting and they can beat anyone and they’re dangerous. I think if they don’t win it, they do deserve to be in it.”

    Cluess, of course, agrees.

    “Do I think a team should get an at-large? Absolutely,” Cluess said. “I think our league is very under-rated. I think we’ve shown what we can do against higher-level teams and I also think the quote high-level teams this year aren’t what they’re supposed to be.

    “I don’t think those leagues are what they were a year or two years ago. I think there’s a lot of parity in college basketball today, so I definitely think if we were to get upset that we should get a second team in.”

    One thing all the MAAC coaches agree on, too, is that the tournament itself is going to be brutal.

    “I think it’s going to be a bloodbath,” Cluess said. “I think every team in the tournament is a dangerous team. There’s not anyone tha you can look at and say ‘Well, that’s a win.’ You can lose to anybody and anybody can get knocked off in this tournament.”

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    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.