Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Iona Women's Big Win Still A Conversation Topic

The Iona women's basketball team has a bye on Thursday's schedule, surely a welcome couple extra days to both savor and digest its victory over perennial league powerhouse Marist on Monday night.

The outcome ended the Gaels' string of 29 consecutive losses to the Red Foxes. It also ended Marist's streak of 36 consecutive victories over MAAC opponents and a 42-game home winning streak.

Asked about a possible letdown as her team prepares for another tough contest, Saturday at 11 a.m. at Fairfield, first-year Iona coach Billi Godsey admitted that potential is on her mind.

"There's always that type of concern," said Godsey. "But my staff and I have to try to keep things in perspective. It was a great win for the program on that night. Now, we have to start preparing for the next opponent."

Godsey, though, was still savoring the outcome a little on a conference call for league coaches Tuesday afternoon.

"It was a big victory because of the history and tradition," she added. "Marist is a strong contender every year, and we had to give it our best shot.

"It was an exciting victory, and it helps us confidence wise. To get over that big one solidifies the belief that we can do this. It should help us come together even more. It was a big win and a great game."

Godsey's situation is somewhat unusual. Usually coaching positions open up because a program is going through difficult times and a predecessor has been fired, or a coach had great success, moves on and better players graduate.

Godsey, though, inherited the full starting five, along with some valuable bench players, from a team that finished 20-13 and went to the WNIT last season before former coach Tony Bozzella moved on to Seton Hall.

"I've been extremely lucky in that regard," said Godsey. "I've known coach Bozzella for a while, and he did a phenomenal job when he was here. He left behind a great group of girls, both starters and bench players.

"We've only tried to do a few little things differently. We've kept the up-tempo style of play, but also have tried to spread the floor a little more."

Spreading the floor, often with four guards on the court and no player taller than 5-11 on the floor, opened things up against Marist in Monday's second half.

That smaller lineup made it difficult for some bigger Marist players to get to shooters quickly, and Iona's sophomore guard Aaliyah Robinson came off the bench to drain four second-half three-pointers to help the Gaels rally from a 10-point deficit early in the second half.

""It was a big game for both teams since we were both unbeaten (in league play) at the time," said Marist coach Brian Giorgis. "It was a great confidence booster for them ... and, we didn't play poorly. It's not often we shoot 53 percent from the floor (52.8 percent) and lose.

"But we saw some stuff ... we learned a lot of things about some things we'll need to do against them when we meet again. We've got to find things to do to neutralize their quickness.

"We watched their celebration ... and, rightfully so for that ... I don't think I'll have to mention that to my players. They saw it for themselves. If we don't come back strong and ready to play, I'll be really disappointed.

"We've lost games before, and we've lost games on our home court. It's going to happen. They're human. The streak was going to end at some point. But, we never mentioned it. Our freshmen probably never knew there was a streak. We just play game by game. Our philosophy is that it's a matter of what you do that game.

"It still all comes down to what you do in March (in the MAAC's post-season tournament)."

But, before then, there's another regular-season meeting. And, the conference's schedule makers so graciously gave us the gift of a return match on the final day of regular-season play, March 2 at noon in New Rochelle.

That one could be a one-game referendum on which team captures this season's regular-season championship.

No comments: