Iona men’s basketball aims to continue form after month-long break

The Iona men’s basketball team has scored a season-high 85 points in their win against Coppin State. // Photo courtesy of

Giovanni Paolo Tagliafierro, Staff Writer

Iona men’s basketball looks to finish the season strong as they approach the remaining portion of their freshly adjusted conference schedule. 

The Gaels have had a difficult season so far,  and not because of their play on the court, but because of the time they have had to spend off the court. After winning three straight games to close out 2020, including a two-game sweep of Rider, the men’s team was placed on their second 14-day pause of the season due to COVID-19 

Wednesday’s upcoming game against Niagara will be the first game the Gaels have played in over a month.  

With such a small sample size, the Gaels have a lot left to prove in the remaining 11 conference games of the regular season, nine of which will be played at the Hynes Center.  


Head coach Rick Pitino has led the team to a 5-3 record so far in his first season at Iona. He looks to add to that win column down the final stretch of conference play.  

Iona’s defense is an aspect of the team that Pitino has influenced immediately in year one. The Gaels average 6.5 steals a game this season, which ranks fourth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.  

Defense has not been the only area of success for this Gaels team, as they trail only Siena and Monmouth in scoring margin in the MAAC with a 3.75 differential this season. This can be attributed to Iona’s efficient ball movement, which has racked up 117 assists in only eight total games.  

Senior guard Isaiah Ross has been a standout player for the Gaels this season. The transfer from University of Missouri-Kansas City has made a huge leap in his second year in Maroon and Gold, upping his points per game from 11 last season to 22.3 this season.  

The guard’s shooting percentages have also improved this season. He is currently shooting 42.4% from deep, and has hit 25 3-pointers, which have accounted for a large share of the Gaels scoring attack.  

Ross has seen an uptick in time on the court as well, averaging nearly 37 minutes per game, as he cements himself as a leader on a young team that features only three other returning players.  

Senior guard Asante Gist and senior forward Dylan Van Eyck have also added stability to the Gaels rotation as Pitino and staff shape a new core nucleus for subsequent seasons to come, while freshman forward Nelly Junior Joseph has shown that he will be heavily featured in Iona’s future with a 56% shooting percentage from the field and his spot as the team’s third-leading scoring.  

The Iona men’s basketball team will be looking forward to resuming their season on Wednesday at home against Niagara. Iona is 22-18 alltime against the team, with their last matchup resulting in an overtime loss to the Purple Eagles in the Hynes Center, 100-91. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.