Roland Griffin thrives as new addition to team

Iona junior was named to the MAAC All-Tournament Team.

Ryan McFadden, Sports Editor

Junior forward Roland Griffin came to New Rochelle as one of seven new players on the Iona College men’s basketball roster this season.

Griffin, who is from Illinois and played junior college basketball in Texas, found the start to his first year wearing maroon and gold a challenge, as he had to make major adjustments on and off the court.

“It was a struggle getting accustomed to the program and the city at first,” Griffin said. “Now I feel settled in and I like it.”

As the season progressed, Griffin’s play in games and practices made his coaches and teammates believe in his ability to be a key contributor. That confidence made Griffin’s adjustment process go smoother.

“It’s all about confidence,” Griffin said. “Your coaches and teammates got to believe in you.”

Iona head coach Tim Cluess started with high expectations for Griffin and believed he could become a major player on the team.

“Roland has been playing very well,” Cluess said. “We thought highly of him when we got him, but were wondering when it was going to come together for him.”

Griffin proved to be a versatile player, making an impact on both sides of the court. Griffin, who was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Sixth Player of the Year, averaged 10.7 points and five rebounds per game.

Griffin scored 20 or more points six times and had the sixth best field goal percentage (52.3) in the MAAC.  Griffin, a MAAC Defensive Player of the Year candidate, was able rebound the ball well, block shots, generate steals and guard multiple positions.

Griffin added to his 2018 accomplishments when he was named to the MAAC All-Tournament after recording 29 points, eight rebounds and four blocks in the championship win over Fairfield.

“He is starting to play like the whole package is coming together,” Cluess said. “He’s understanding the level of play we are asking out of him.”

With one year of basketball under his belt, Griffin now understands Iona’s system and has the potential to become one of the top role players in the conference down the road.

“He’s a big part of our team and I’m looking forward to having him in the offseason, which we haven’t had yet,” Cluess said. “I think he is going to be a dynamite player for the rest of the way.”

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