Thursday, January 12, 2012

Iona Men: On Track After Hofstra Loss

Here's another in the series looking at men's teams through the eyes of their respective head coaches.

Up now ...


The Gaels are 5-0 in league play, 13-3 overall and look like one of the conference's more-dominant teams in recent years. Since a lackluster 83-75 loss at Hofstra in late December, Iona has won three straight league games by margins of 36, 12 and 24 points.

"I don't know how much that loss (to Hofstra) opened the eyes of our players ... it's just that Hofstra played very well," said Iona coach Tim Cluess. "We were sloppy with the ball. We ave to be careful not to push the issue too much."

In the Gaels next game, they demolished Siena, 95-59 at Madison Square Garden.

"It was awesome to play there," said Cluess. "The players we're thrilled. I grew up, as a kid, watching college games there. To bring a team there ... it was great for the Iona community. I hope there are, eventually, more opportunities for teams in our league to play there.

"Our backcourt (point guard Scott Machado, who leads the country in assists at 10.1 per game, and Arizona transfer Lamont "Momo" Jones) has been pretty good together. Momo is fitting in and fining his way more and more each game. Scott has been solid, for the most part, but the game at Hofstra (10 assists, six turnovers) was a tough one for him. Overall, I'm happy with the way he's played, but we have high expectations for him. The turnovers he had in that game were unusual for him. He made uncharacteristic passes, things that weren't available. I think he got caught up in the pace of the game."

After the Hofstra game, several Iona players hinted that they might have gotten caught up in all the publicity the program had been receiving. Cluess, though, claims he's not affected.

"It's a bigger stage now (than his previous coaching position at Division II C.W. Post), but I live in the same house in the same community. I am happy for the players, though. It's more about them getting recognition and, maybe opportunities. Maybe all the extra attention gets them more looks from NBA scouts, or opportunities to play overseas, or even, job opportunities from alums.

"Some of our guys aren't used to the notoriety we've been getting. We have to get them to understand that all the media attention is great, but they can't get false ideas that they're better than they are. In this league if you're not ready to play anyone can drill you on a given night. That's what we're going through right now. We're enjoying our early season success, but you have to put it in perspective."

Cluess also touched on his standout senior forward Mike Glover's loss of about 10 pounds since the start of the year.

"He put on a little extra weight in the off-season to be stronger, but he lost a little quickness. He's in a lot better shape now and back to the athletic level he was a year ago. I like the way he's taking the ball to the hoop, attacking from the perimeter and shooting it. We just have to do a better job of getting him more touches."

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