Iona men’s basketball ranked first in preseason rankings


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The Gaels were also ranked first in the preseason rankings last year.  

Lachlan Wellington, Sports Editor

The Iona men’s basketball team are ranked first in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) preseason rankings.

Iona received 10 first-place votes, with the others going to Manhattan College.

Junior Nelly Junior Joseph was voted to the All-MAAC preseason first team in the forward position, while Sophomore Walton Calyton Jr. was selected to the All-MAAC second team on the preseason poll.

Iona did finish as the first seed in the MAAC regular season standings last year, however they were bounced out by Rider University in the quarterfinals and did not receive an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament.  


The Gaels then competed in the NIT against University of Florida, losing 74-79. 

Iona will hope to make it back to the NCAA Tournament this year and are facing several ranked teams in their non-conference schedule.

“We are going to find out how good our team is early,” Head Coach Rick Pitino said in an interview for the MAAC basketball preseason coaches’ media Zoom call.  


“We go up against University of Penn- the team predicted to win the Ivy League, then we face Hofstra University, away, then we have University of Vermont at the Mohegan Sun Arena, then we play a top 30 team in Saint Louis University,” Pitino said. “Then we play St Bonaventure University at the Barclays Center before we go to Las Vegas to play Southern Methodist University.”

Pitino also spoke about the team’s health. Freshmen Sadiku Ayo is currently the only player who is struggling with an injury as he is coming off knee surgery in the summer after he suffered two meniscus tears. However, Pitino hopes he will be back around Dec. 15.

The team will be better defensively, according to Pitino, while the team will remain to be good offensively, just as they were last season.

The one concern about his team that Coach Pitino has is their schedule. He trusts his team but believes that losses can get young players down, and he expects some bumps in the road with the schedule they are playing. If his team can get through their non-conference games, Pitino says his team will be in for a great season.  


The talent of Rick Pitino’s team last season was highlighted through Tyson Jolly, who played for the Maroon and Gold last season, as he was selected in the NBA G League draft by the Greensboro Swarm- the G League affiliate to the Charlotte Hornets.

Jolly was the third pick in the second round of the G League draft.  


Pitino is happy with the squad he has assembled for the season, but he believes the standout will be junior transfer student Daniss Jenkins.

“All our players are good, but there is no one on our team like Daniss Jenkins”, Pitino said. “He’s more mature, he’s very gifted athletically, he works really hard. There’s no one like him that we currently have.”

After the Gaels play out the Diamond Head Classic tournament, they will begin MAAC regular season play against Saint Peter’s on Jan.1.  


They will then play only MAAC opponents for the rest of the regular season before playing in the MAAC Championship Tournament, which begins on March 7 with the first round.