Coach: Kevin Willard (24-39 at Iona, 24-39 overall)
Iona had some good moments during the 2008-2009 campaign, but in the end it was a disappointing season. Coach Kevin Willard is moving Iona back in the right direction, but it has been difficult and will continue to be difficult, especially without Gary Springer, who led the team in points, rebounding and blocked shots during his senior campaign.
Key Losses for Iona: F Devon Clarke, F Gary Springer
The newcomers will help, but this is a team that needs to find some more scoring from their wings. Milan Prodanovic is the experienced option who averaged 6.9 points per game last season. Prodanovic is pretty much a shooter and that could mean he will be relegated to the bench if somebody else develops into a more dynamic scoring option. Rashon Dwight will probably not be that scorer, but he is a good defender and rebounder and in certain situations Coach Willard will need those skills from his small forward. Trinity Fields and Jermel Jenkins both had decent freshman campaigns and hope to avoid a sophomore slump.
Most of the depth up front will have to come from the newcomers, but Jonathan Huffman and Alejo Rodriguez are ready to take over as full time starters. Huffman, who started 15 games last year, is the big man under the basket. However, the seven-footer does not spend all of his time in the paint. A majority of his 6.8 points per game actually came from long range. Having a big guy that can step out and consistently knock down the three-pointer really opens up space for the rest of the team. That worked fine when Springer was around to dominate the glass. Now Rodriguez has to prove that he can be a consistent rebounder and avoid foul trouble enough to grab seven or eight rebounds per game.
Who’s In for Iona:
With the absence of Springer and fellow forward Devon Clarke, the Gaels are in dire need of some big bodies to fill the void. Redshirt freshman Keon Williams has plenty of potential if he can stay healthy and has at least been on the sidelines for a year. Chris Pelcher, Mike McFadden and walk-on transfer David Nelson will also vie for minutes off the bench. A few perimeter players are also looking to make an impact. Incoming freshman Rashard McGill is probably the most talented of the bunch. At 6-5, he has the size to dominate on the wing and can put up a bunch of points in a hurry. Fellow incoming freshman Ben Mockford and redshirt freshman Kyle Smith will provide even more depth. Smith’s season was cut very short last year after a rash of injuries, but he is a talented and versatile 6-4 guard that can play anywhere in the backcourt.
Iona got a nice surprise when freshman Scott Machado turned into a consistent scorer and point guard. He will be the star of this team for the next three years and has already turned into a leader. Machado tallied 9.3 points and 4.8 assists last year and even led the team with 1.3 steals and added 3.4 rebounds. A year of experience should keep his turnovers down and if he can start connecting more consistently on his outside shot, Machado will be impossible to stop.
Final 2009-2010 Iona Projection:
Iona has some key players who are upperclassmen, but this is still a young team whose best days are ahead of them. However, last year the freshmen were forced into action and they all did pretty well and are ready to play even bigger roles as sophomores. As long as the frontcourt can manage to find a scorer and rebounder who can replace Springer, this is a team that has the potential to finish in the top half of a tough MAAC.