Four keys for a deep Gaels tournament run


Photo courtesy of

Iona ranks third in the country in blocks per game at 6.1  

Giovanni Paolo Tagliafierro, Sports Editor

The Gaels are headed back to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship tournament as a favorite to win it, this time as the #1 seed. Here are four keys to the Gaels getting an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.  


Share the ball:  


Iona ranks 18th in the country in assists per game, while ranking 15th on assists-per-field-goal-made.  

Fifth-year player Dylan van Eyck has proven to be integral in setting Gaels’ shooters up this season. Van Eyck has truly shown his ability as a multi-faceted, stretch-point prototype player, as his 6’8” frame has allowed him to find open teammates for a team-high 3.1 assists per game.  


Elijah Joiner has also served as a consistent playmaker this season, dishing out over three assists per game as well.  


The Gaels are 16-1 this season when they record over 16 team assists.  


Defend the perimeter:  


The Gaels have allowed an opponent’s three-point percentage of 29.9 this season, good enough for 22nd-best in the country.  


The veteran defensive presence on the wings in Berrick JeanLouis and Elijah Joiner has allowed Iona to prevent the deep ball from hurting them much this season. There is also a clear connection evident between Iona’s rim protection and their defensive prowess at the arc. Defenders can play more aggressive man-defense on opposing shooters, knowing their interior defense, which averages the third-most blocks in the nation, can bail them out.  


Iona has held their opponent to under 32% shooting from deep over the span of their last six wins.  


Draw fouls and capitalize at charity stripe:  


The Gaels attempt the eighth-most free throws per game at 22.4 a night, yet they only convert on a little over 15 of those attempts per night. Free throws become an even more crucial part of college basketball in March, and even more so for Iona in the conference tournament as they attempt to defend their #1 seed.  


Getting to the line and converting on their free throws will be key to Iona playing aggressive and burying lower-seeded teams before they get the chance to pull off an upset.  


Keep the opponent out of the driver’s seat: 


Tying into the last key to this tournament run, the Gaels need to find ways to maintain control over conference opponents in the tournament who they have handled fairly easily all regular season long. One of those ways is to limit their opponent’s free points at the line. In two of Iona’s four conference losses this season, Iona allowed 27 free throw attempts to Manhattan and 26 attempts to Siena.  


Opponent free throws also played a crucial role against Iona in their heartbreaking loss to St. Louis. If Iona is able to keep their play clean and limit their opponent’s chances at the stripe, they can put themselves in position to grab their 14th conference championship.