Men’s basketball on a roll after early season struggles



Acting head coach Tra Arnold has a 10-13 overall record with the Gaels ever since taking over.

Matthew Chaves, Sports Editor

The Iona College men’s basketball team is currently 8-8 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference after a rough start to their season.

The Gaels started off the season on a bad note with the absence of head coach Tim Cluess. This left associate head coach, now acting head coach, Tra Arnold in charge. Arnold took hold of the Gaels at the beginning of January.

The Arnold period began with a rough start after two losses against Saint Peter’s and Monmouth. Things started to look up after three wins in the next five games, but two more losses followed that.

The beginning of February started off bleak with a 49-72 loss to longtime rivals Manhattan at the Gaels’ home court, but things started to pick up after a successful visit to Connecticut left the Gaels with two wins over Quinnipiac and Fairfield.

The recent stomp by the Gaels over the Jaspers on Feb. 14 at Hynes Center left the team and the school as a whole feeling invigorated.

Recently, the Gaels lost a well-fought game against Siena at their home court, with Siena keeping their undefeated-at-home streak intact. The rally from the Gaels is the fight and determination they missed in the beginning of the season. As playoffs creep closer, the drive to win becomes more and more evident.

Seniors E. J. Crawford and Tajuan Agee are leading the Gaels to what seems to be another successful MAAC regular season. Crawford leads the team with 403 points while Agee leads the team with 171 rebounds, a majority of which are defensive. The everlasting presence of Crawford’s scoring ability on the court alongside Agee’s presence underneath the basket leaves most teams struggling to figure out what to do.

If the teams do figure something out, they still have to get through junior Isaiah Washington, who has been crucial to the Gaels this season. The perfect example of his skill netting the Gaels a win was his 3-point play against Marist on Feb. 16.

After a defensive rebound from sophomore Andrija Ristanovic at the 1:31 mark, Washington ran the shot clock down to the final seconds and scored a three pointer, putting more stress on the already losing Red Foxes.

It’s these plays that give the Gaels the fire to finish off games strong. While the bad habit of starting off games slow remains, the Gaels always balance it out in the long run.

Nonetheless, the Gaels do need to fix that bad habit. Teams can run away with the momentum in the early game and create a deficit that is unreachable, even with superb play in the second half. Other teams could have a good second half play as well and outmatch the Gaels. A perfect example of this happening would be the Gaels loss to Manhattan earlier in the season.

The trend of starting off slow and finishing off strong isn’t only on the court. Last season, Iona seemed to struggle in the first part of the season but they brought it back. It seems like that trend will continue in this season.