Thursday, November 29, 2012

ATM: MAAC presence at Seton Hall, Machado, Opener

First installment of the season of the semi-regular feature "ATM," otherwise known as "Around The MAAC.


A recent trip to the South Orange, N.J., campus reminded your Hoopscribe about just how strong a MAAC connection there is within the Seton Hall men's program.

Start with head coach Kevin Willard, now in his third season at the helm of the Pirates. Before moving to Seton Hall, Willard coached three years at Iona, a program that went through a 2-28 overall record the year before he took over.

Under Willard, Iona went 12-20 in 2007-08, 12-19 in 2008-09 and 21-10 in 2009-10.

Willard came to Seton Hall after the school opted to end the reign of error of controversial coach Bobby Gonzalez in 2010. His first team there finished 13-18 and his second team, last season, was 21-13. The 21 victories were the most by the Pirates since a 21-victory season in 2003-04.

Seton Hall could be even better this year, and is off to a 5-1 start through Wednesday's games.

Seton Hall assistants include Shaheen Holloway and Dan McHale, both on Willard's Iona staff for three years prior to following the head coach to the Pirates.

And, the program's director of basketball operations is veteran MAAC presence Stephen Sauers, who was an assistant at Marist under Dave Magarity for 15 seasons and also for two seasons at Iona during Willard's time there.

One of Seton Hall's key players is former Iona standout Kyle Smyth, a fifth-year player. Smyth redshirted a season at Iona, and did not have to sit out a year after leaving the Gaels after last season because he earned his undergraduate degree. The NCAA allows graduate students immediate eligibility if they move to a school to take a masters-degree program not offered at their previous school.

Smyth, one of the better long-range shooters the MAAC has ever seen, has continued his deep accuracy in the Big East, hitting 12-of-25 three pointers (48.0 percent) through the team's first six games. He is currently averaging 7.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game for Seton Hall, and his 26.0 minutes-per-game is third highest on the team.


The earliest regular-season conference game in recent memory took place on Wednesday night when Iona knocked off Niagara, 83-72, in New Rochelle, N.Y.

Gaels' junior guard Sean Armand, known primarily as a long-range shooter, showed he has more than that in his game with his first career double-double. Armand had 18 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

"The tougher team won," Niagara coach Joe Mihalich told reporters after the game. "They're men, and we're not."


Former Iona point guard and last season's NCAA assist leader Scott Machado saw the first NBA action of his career Wednesday night during his Houston Rockets' 120-98 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Machado played three minutes, was 2-for-2 on free throws and had one assist without a turnover.

The former Gael is trying to beat out Toney Douglas as the primary back-up to Rockets' starting point guard Jeremy Lin. Douglas played 11 minutes Wednesday, was 0-for-4 from the field and had one assist and one turnover.

Machado played two games in the NBA's Developmental League before his activation earlier this week by the Rockets, and averaged 16.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per contest.

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