Rickey McGill uses the pressure of senior year as motivation to succeed

Ryan McFadden , Sports Editor

Iona College senior point guard Rickey McGill’s emotions are at an  all-time high. Besides dealing with the constant pressure of being a three-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion, McGill is playing in his final year with the men’s basketball team.

McGill, who was named to the Preseason All-MAAC First Team, uses these emotions that crowd his head every time he steps on the court as motivation to give it his all.

“My emotions are going through the roof right now, knowing that I only have seven weeks left of playing here,” McGill said. “I’m just trying to give it my all. Every game, I try to play like it’s my last and put my team in the best position to win.”

McGill had to grow into his role as the starting point guard for Iona. As a freshman, McGill was coming off the bench, averaging 2.5 points per game in 10 minutes of play. McGill has seen his minutes increase and numbers go up each year, while developing into one of the top players in the conference.

Growing up, McGill always dreamed about playing in Madison Square Garden, the famous sports venue that hosted icons like LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing. McGill had the opportunity to play in the Garden twice during his time at Iona, and each time made him feel like a little kid again.

“Playing in the Garden was one of the best feelings I ever had,” McGill said. “Everybody has played in that gym.”

In addition to playing in the Garden, McGill has made three NCAA Tournament appearances and even faced some of the top basketball programs in the nation.

“It means a lot to get those type of opportunities,” McGill said. “Playing in the tournament is like everybody’s big thing to get to.”

McGill, a Spring Valley, New York native, is averaging 15.5 points per game and scored 20 or more points three times. McGill, who has reached the 1,000 career point mark,   is second on the team in scoring behind junior E.J. Crawford, who is averaging close to 17 points per game.

“I had a rough start at the beginning of the season,” McGill said. “I couldn’t really hit a jump shot so I just had to make an adjustment and get more shots in the gym and play my game. [Lately] I’ve been letting my game come to me.”

McGill is the only player on Iona’s roster who is a senior and has been a part of the historic three-peat. McGill has experienced a fair share of roster changes and working with a different group of players each year, something that’s typically seen at the one-and-done schools like Duke and Kentucky.

“Playing with different guys each year is tough,” McGill said. “You [are] playing with different personalities and you really don’t know what each guy can do. As the season goes along, I try to gel with guys and see what they can and cannot do.”

Iona’s chemistry was tested early in the season when the Gaels went 2-9 in non-conference play. McGill knew his team was better than their non-conference record. It was just a matter of learning how to work with each other.

“We just had to keep our heads up,” McGill said. “We knew we were a good team since the beginning. We just had to gel together. That was our biggest problem. Everybody didn’t know what each other can do. As the season went along, we had to keep fighting as a team.”

McGill wants to be remembered as a player that gave it his all on the court. McGill is determined to bring Iona its four consecutive conference championship, but he knows the road to achieve that goal will not be easy.

“It’s tough knowing teams are going to give it their all every game,” McGill said. “We always had a target on our back. You just got to try to come out and beat the opponent.”