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.
Rick Pitino gets first win at Iona, jokingly says he’ll ask AD for an extension
By ADAM ZAGORIARick Pitino secured his first win as the head coach at Iona on Saturday and jokingly said he’ll ask AD Matthew Glovaski for an extension.
“After this first win, I asked my AD for a two-year extension,” Pitino cracked after the Gaels won at Hofstra, 82-74. “He granted it, but I’d have to take a 15 percent paycut.”
It was career win No. 771 for Pitino, 648 if you count the vacated victory count.
Iona (1-1), picked second in the MAAC behind Siena, was playing just its second game of the season after losing at Seton Hall last Monday. The Gaels had the first four games of their season canceled while they were on a 14-day pause following a support staff member testing positive for COVID.
They are next slated to host Morgan State on Tuesday.
Nelly Junior Joseph with his fourth block of the game!
Pitino, the Naismith Hall of Fame coach who led Kentucky and Louisville to NCAA titles, was fired from Louisville in 2017 after several scandals. He was hired at Iona in March and has said he believes Iona is a “sleeping giant” that can become similar to Saint Mary’s or perhaps even Gonzaga.
Pitino and his staff brought in an eight-man recruiting class, including several international players. He’s also loading up the schedule for his second season.
“Next year, we’re gonna play Brigham Young, we’re gonna play Seton Hall at the Garden, we’re gonna be in the Orlando Invitational with Kansas, Alabama, schools like that,” he said. “We’re excited about that as well.”
Against Hofstra, senior guard Isaiah Ross went off for 33 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. It was the highest-scoring output for an Iona player since Jordan Washington went for 33 on Jan. 24, 2016, and the first 30-point game since Rickey McGill talled 30 in February 2019.
“Isaiah Ross is playing great with Asante being out, showing great leadership, Dylan van Eyck had a great comeback game, hit a huge three for us when momentum was swinging,” Pitino said. “So I’m really excited. This is a good victory for us”
Freshman forward Nelly Junior Joseph had 14 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks and senior forward Dylan Van Eck went for 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
Iona is playing without senior guard Asante Gist (pinkie) and 7-foot freshman forward Osborn Shema (groin).
Pitino said Gist gets a pin out of his finger on Monday and will then go into a splint.
“Optimistically, I’m hoping he can play in our first league game against Quinnipiac [Dec. 11],” Pitino said.
“Osborn has a very serious groin injury, he’s probably out another month.”
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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.