Here's another in the series previewing conference teams.
Up now ...
2012-13 RECORD: 13-5 in the MAAC, 20-13 overall.
KEY LOSSES: Forward Diana Hubbard (3.2, 0.9).
KEY NEWCOMERS: 5-9 redshirt freshman forward Christina Rubin.
EARLY STARTERS: 5-7 junior guard Damika Martinez (18.1 points, 5.2 rebounds last season), 5-11 sophomore forward Joy Adams (13.0, 10.7), 5-6 junior guard Aleesha Powell (9.8, 3.7), 5-6 senior guard Haley D'Angelo (4.6, 2.0, 3.6 assists), 6-3 senior center Sabrina Jeridore (4.4, 4.8, 3.1 blocks).
NOTABLE: Second-best team in the league last year to Marist, and went to the WNIT. Afterwards, head coach Tony Bozzella moved on to Seton Hall. The transition to new coach Billi Godsey, formerly an assistant at Virginia Tech, seems to be going well ... The Gaels are currently 6-2 with the losses by a point to strong mid-major Bowling Green and to St. John's ... Martinez is as dynamic a scorer as the conference has ever seen. Two years ago she became the first freshman to lead the MAAC in scoring, duplicated that last season and added Player of the Year accolades. She's even better this year. Her 26.7 ppg. average so far far outdistances any other conference player and ranks third nationally. Her 42 points in a recent game set an Iona record (formerly held by Maria Johnson, 38, in the 1978-79 season), and was the sixth-best single-game total nationally this season ... The program's entire starting five fron a year ago returns, as does its top two reserves ... Every starter has made strides since a year ago. Besides Martinez's huge jump in scoring, her rebounding (6.3) is also up. Adams, the MAAC's Rookie of the Year last season, is averaging 17.0 points and 12.9 rebounds per game thus far ... Powell's 9.5, 3.3 averages are about the same as a year ago, but her assists (3.6) are up. D'Angelo's assists are also up, to 5.1 thus far and she has an astronomically good 41 assists to just 11 turnovers thus far. And, Jeridore's rebound average is up dramatically (7.3 so far), and she is the nation's leading shot-blocker (4.8 per contest) ... The top reserves are Aaliyah Robinson (5.9, 1.9), a 5-9 sophomore guard; 5-11 sophomore forward Cassidee Ranger (2.0) and 5-9 freshman guard/forward Christina Rubin (4.0, 1.7), who sat out last season with an injury ... The Gaels are shooting 44.8 percent from the field, 42nd-best nationally.
STRENGTHS: Scoring, experience, rebounding, depth. Pretty much everything is in place.
WEAKNESSES: An entirely new staff that's not as familiar with the conference as the previous staff.
REASONABLE EXPECTATION: League coaches, in their preseason poll, picked Iona to finish second, as did your blogger. We'll believe someone other than Marist wins the regular-season title when it does someday happen. But, Iona is probably as close to being able to do that this year as any team in recent memory. Quinnipiac also looks strong, so a finish somewhere in the top three looks like Iona's fate.