Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Despite Article's Slant, Iona's Scoring Nothing New

I read the news today, oh boy ...

A recent story that appeared in the Newark (N.J.) Star -Ledger comes with this headline: "How Iona's high-scoring ways have ushered in new era in MAAC."

To that I say: Has the author of that particular story no sense of league history?

No knock against Iona and its fast-paced offense. Head coach Tim Cluess has brought an exciting and successful brand of basketball to the New Rochelle school.

But, the supposition is made by the author that ... "the Gaels have changed the way the league plays."

That just isn't the case.

The MAAC has hardly lived in the stone age when it comes to scoring points.

In fact, the league's highest-scoring team over a full season since the MAAC was formed came back in the 1999-00 season. That was Siena, coached by Paul Hewitt, which averaged 86.7 points per game. And, that came on the heels of the 1998-99 Siena team that averaged 86.6 points, the second-best single-season average in MAAC history.

All that came because, like Cluess, former Siena coach had the vision that good offense could overcome good defense.

Hewitt brought a philosophy of a full-court press and transition basketball to the league more than a decade before Cluess did.

Iona's teams of late are a few points short of Siena's top scoring averages. In the past three years Iona has averaged 83.7 points, 80.4 points and 82.9 points per game.

In truth, up-tempo basketball was in evidence even before Hewitt brought it to the league with his Siena teams.

The La Salle team of 1989-90 averaged 86.1 points per game, better than any of Iona's averages under Cluess and third-best single-season average of all time.

Of course that team featured future NBA players Lionel Simmons, Doug Overton and Randy Woods.

Nothing like having talent to create points. That La Salle team had plenty of it.

So did Hewitt's Siena teams and, now, so does Iona.

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