Iona basketball looking to bounce back


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Last year the Gaels won their first six games of the season, including beating ranked Alabama.  

Jordan Score, Staff Writer

Iona Men’s basketball will look to bounce back this year after coming up short last season, where they were eliminated in the first round of the MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) tournament.  

Although Iona was the regular season champions in the MAAC they came up short in the first round, losing to the Rider Broncs 71-70.  

 The Gaels have won the MAAC Championship five out of the last seven years dating back to the 2015-2016 season, including 2019-2020 when there was no tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

As Iona looks forward to the 2022-2023 season they head into the new season without Tyson Jolly, Dylan Van Eyck, and Elijah Joiner, who were all key contributors last season. While Iona will be without Jolly, Van Eyck, and Joiner for the upcoming season the Gaels welcome four freshmen, Sadiku Ibine Ayo, Cruz Davis, Keither Florence and Silas Sunday.  

The Gaels have also added three transfer students, junior Daniss Jenkins from Odessa College, and sophomores Michael Jefferson from Northwest Florida State and Anton Brookshire from Missouri. 

Hall of Fame Gaels head coach Rick Pitino and his team will open the 2022-2023 season at home as they take on the University of Pennsylvania on Nov. 7. This is Pitino’s third year coaching Iona as he started during the 2020-2021 season after previous head coach Tim Cluess retired after nine years at the helm.  

Under coach Pitino, Iona went 18-9 in the 2020-2021 season and 25-8 in the 2021-2022 season. Pitino is the first coach in NCAA history to win the NCAA Championship at two different schools, winning with Kentucky in 1996 and then Louisville in 2013. Pitino is also the first coach in NCAA history to guide three different schools to the NCAA Final Four.  

Following their home opener, the Gaels will play three games on the road. On Nov. 11 Iona will travel to Hempstead, New York where they matchup against Hofstra. After this game, the Gaels will head to Uncasville, Connecticut as they face off against Vermont at the 2022 Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase on Nov. 18. Iona will finish off their three-game road trip in Las Vegas, Nevada where they play Santa Clara University at the 2022 Las Vegas Holiday Classic on Nov. 26.  

Starting on Dec. 2, the Gaels will be at home for three straight games facing off against two MAAC opponents. Iona will play Niagara University on Dec. 2, Canisius College on Dec. 4, and Saint Louis University on Dec. 6.  

After the three-home game stretch Iona will travel to Brooklyn, New York as they take on St. Bonaventure University at the 2022 Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational on Dec. 11. 

 Following this game Iona will face Princeton University on Dec. 13 and the University of New Mexico on Dec. 18. The Gaels will then travel to Honolulu, Hawaii where they will play in the 2022 Diamond Head Classic starting on Dec. 22 against Southern Methodist University, before facing either Utah State or Seattle the next day.  

The Gaels will ring in the new year by hosting Saint Peter’s, the team that won the MAAC Championship last season and went on to make the elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament, at the Hynes Athletics Center. 

The new year will also see the Gaels face MAAC opponents uninterrupted for the rest of the regular season. Iona will play eight of those games at home and the remaining games away.  

Iona will look to win their sixth MAAC Championship in ten years this season as the 2023 MAAC Championship Tournament starts on March 7 with the Championship game being played on March 11. 

The MAAC Tournament is again being hosted at Atlantic City, New Jersey. The women’s tournament will be played at the same venue at the same time.