The first MAAC college basketball game of the 2011-12 season is now in the books, as of early Friday afternoon, and it makes Iona women's coach Tony Bozzella look like a prophet.
Bozzella's Gaels won with ease, 85-69, over a decent North Carolina A&T (15-14 last season with three of its top six players back) in a first-round tip-off tournament hosted by Iona that started at 11 a.m. Friday.
Bozzella, already widely recognized as a good coach, now looks like a master of the crystal ball, too.
At the MAAC's Preseason Awards Show a couple of weeks ago, Bozzella had this to say about his standout senior forward Kristina Ford: "She's going to be the best player in the league this season," Bozzella said. "I don't care if you quote me as saying that. She deserves to have people know what I think about her. She worked extremely hard in the off-season and the improvement in her game is dramatic."
It's only one game, but Ford backed up her coach's confidence with a career-high 34 points against North Carolina A&T on 13-of-18 shooting from the floor. Her previous single-game best had been 24 points.
It probably didn't hurt to have teammate and senior point guard Suzi Fregosi back in the lineup. Fregosi, one of the league's best true point guards, missed much of last season with hip issues. But she showed she was all the way back in Friday's game, posting a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists.