Iona takes the floor with an explosive offense that is averaging 80.7 points per game on 47.6% shooting from the field and 41.0% from beyond the arc against teams that would combine to allow 67.2 points per game to a mediocre offensive squad. The Gaels’ attack simply explodes within the friendly confines of the Hynes Athletic Center where they are averaging 85.2 points per game on 49.7% shooting from the floor and 44.6% from three-point territory.
Iona’s offense revolves around three returning starters in senior forward David Laury (20.5 points per game), junior point guard A.J. English (19.5 points per game) and junior guard Isaiah Williams (14.5 points per game).
Williams was the only non-senior to earn first-team All-MAAC honors last season after finishing sixth in scoring and third in assists in the conference. The question entering the season was whether Williams would be able to duplicate his sophomore results without having Sean Armand on the floor, and the son of former NBA player Alex English has answered those questions with authority (please see below for injury news). Laury, a 6-9, 245 pound presence under the glass, leads the team for the second consecutive year in both rebounds (9.7) and blocks (36). Laury also boasts a team-high 20.5 points per game on 50.1% shooting from the field.
The most pleasant surprise for the Gaels has been the rapid development of freshman Schadrac Casimer, who is third on the team with 15.3 points per game and leads Iona in three-point field goal percentage (.441). Casimer had an excellent summer workout and has continued to improve throughout the 2014-2015 campaign.
Overall, Iona is 13.5 points per game better than average offensively, which is good enough to score against a pedestrian Monmouth defense that is 2.3 points per game better than average (63.3 points per game to teams that would combine to average 65.6 points per game).
While Iona possesses a dynamic attack, the Hawks’ offense is anything but as they are averaging 64.5 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 66.8 points per game. Even more concerning is the fact that Monmouth is averaging just 62.5 points per game on the road and 62.2 points over its last five games.
And, while Iona does not play the best defense (6.5 points per game worse than average), the Gaels have stepped up their intensity at the defensive end of the floor. Specifically, the Gaels are limiting opponents to a mere 63.2 points on 35.6% shooting from the field and 23.5% from three-point territory over the last five games, which is nearly ten points better than their season average.
During the Gaels’ nine-game winning streak, Iona’s defensive efficiency has been 94.6, the best nine-game stretch for Iona since the end of January 2012 (Defensive Efficiency is measured by calculating the amount of points a team would allow in 100 possessions). Eight of Iona’s 13 games this season holding their opponents under 1.0 points per possession have come during the last nine contests.
The Maroon & Gold have held their opponent to 65.8 points per game and a 36.8% field goal percentage during its current win streak, well under the season averages of 72.8 points per game and 41.6 FG%. Iona has held its opponent under 44% shooting from the field in 11 straight contests.
Iona head coach Tim Cluess is one of the most underrated college basketball minds in the nation as he has led the Gaels to four straight 20-win seasons and four consecutive postseason trips. In his college basketball head coaching career, Cluess is 212-74 (.741).
More importantly, Iona is an incredible 39-4 at home under Cluess, and the Gaels have the opportunity to secure the top spot in the MAAC Championship with a win over Monmouth this afternoon. From a technical standpoint, Iona is 4-1 ATS in its last five games off a win and applies to a very good 51-9-1 ATS momentum situation of mine that is 4-0 ATS this season.
Not only is Iona looking to secure the #1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament, the Gaels are also looking to avenge one of their only two league losses at the hands of Monmouth. Lay the points with the Gaels in this college basketball clash and invest with confidence.
Iona Injury Update: Isaiah Williams has been out since January 13 with a foot injury and isn’t scheduled to return for another 1-2 weeks. Over the last two seasons, the Gaels are 10-5 in games without Williams so they are more than capable of winning without the junior guard.