Know Thy Enemy: Iona Gaels

By Johnny Ginter on March 18, 2013 at 5:00p
42 Comments
YOU CAN DO IT!!
REACH! REACH FOR THE STARS!!

Last year when Ohio State faced the nearly insurmountable task of taking on the Loyola University Greyhounds in the first round of the NCAA tournament, I took it upon myself to break down the ins and outs of both the school and team in an effort to ensure that Matta and company would be adequately prepared for the most important game they would play all season.

Unsurprisingly the Buckeyes would go on to win that first-round game, no doubt thanks to the keen insight that my post gave them into their opponent. Well, basketball is a team sport, and I'm a team player, so this year I'm unleashing my investigative power on the Iona Gaels.

Iona University is a private, Catholic university just north of the Bronx with an enrollment of about 12,000 probably rich jerks (tuition is about 30k). It was founded in 1940, just before the beginning of World War II, with the express purpose of sticking it to Hitler. Okay, not really. But wouldn't have that been cool?

Instead of opposing the Nazis, Iona became a university devoted to providing students with a religious educational experience in the fields of Business and "Arts and Sciences," which at Iona seems to just be a fancy term for "Other." This makes sense, as the Irish (or Gaelic, if you will, where the school gets its nickname) Congregation of Christian Brothers that founded the school are especially noted for their razor-like business acumen, and today, Business is by far the most popular major among the undergraduates.

Iona's notable alumni page on Wikipedia is hilariously long, and one thing I've noticed about those things for lower-seeded schools is that there tends to be a direct correlation between the size of tuition and number of listed people no one has ever heard of or will ever care about (in a macro sense, I'm sure they're all lovely people with loving families).

Kyle Flood, head coach of Rutgers football, was a four-time letter winner at Iona, which no longer has a football team, and as if you needed yet another reason to stoke the flames of your hatred for our eternal rivals, Don McLean also is a graduate.

Basketball-wise, Iona is headed by Tim Cluess, a late bloomer in the college basketball coaching world. Cluess is a 54-year-old from Queens who spent 14 years coaching high school ball before moving up to community colleges and on to Iona. He also has a luxurious Queens-esque moustache, which has helped propel him to two consecutive appearances in the NCAA tourney.

Not that Iona really wants to remember anything about last year.

Up 25 against BYU in Dayton last year, the Gaels managed to somehow piss that lead away in the second half, scoring a very Wisconsinish 17 points in the second frame and allowing the biggest comeback in NCAA tournament history. 

This year the Gaels hope to do at least slightly better than "horrible bitter loss." Lamont "Momo" Jones is one of the top scorers in the nation, averaging 23 points a game, and Sean Armand isn't that far behind with 16.6. As a team, they rank second in the country in total points, at 80.7 a game, and have scored 90 points or more 10 times this season.

AAAAAAAAAAAA
Uh... I don't... hmmm...

With that said, it hasn't been all smooth sailing in the MAAC Conference. Despite the gaudy offensive stats, this is still a team that went 11-7 against the likes of Rider, Canisius, and Marist in a conference that had three teams with 20 or more losses.

Particularly bad was the Gaels' overtime record, going 1-4 in extra innings, three of which came in a seven-game stretch where they lost six of those games. It's a testament to Cluess that the team didn't just fold like a lawn chair after that, and instead went on a tear that saw them winning their conference tourney.

This is a pretty awful matchup for Iona, and therefore a pretty entertaining one for us. Iona is all too happy to play exactly the kind of game that Matta and company love, and their overall lack of size means that Thad can go smallball all he wants with little drop off defensively. Especially fun will be watching Aaron Craft take five-foot-nine guard Tavon Sledge down to funkytown for 20-25 minutes, and Sam Thompson not being guarded by anyone even remotely fast enough to keep up with him.

On the other hand, anyone watching Ohio State this year knows that the fast break is more than a double-edged sword. It isn't totally inconceivable that OSU might have some difficulty handling the pace that Iona will try to set, and as a result could either be forced to play their game, or end up slowing the pace down and becoming the plodding Big Ten villain that we swore we'd never become.

Or maybe Deshaun Thomas will explode in a shower of confetti. And Aaron Craft is arrested right before the tip for selling state secrets to North Korea. And in a puff of smoke Thad Matta is revealed to be three gnomes standing on each other's shoulders.

All possible, but more likely is the scenario where Ohio State sets the tempo early, Deshaun goes ham because there's no one on Iona capable of guarding him, a bunch of rich alumni in New Rochelle grip the armrests of their unicorn leather easy chairs, and we thoroughly enjoy our Friday evening.

42 Comments

Comments

AndyVance's picture

Hilarity ensues.
...and the mascot's name is Killian, which is a passable mass-produced adult beverage.

BuckeyeSki's picture

Did anyone catch the name of the invisible man that coach is about to chokeslam thru the floor?

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

Hovenaut's picture

My inner Ralph Kramden has awaken.

Why Iona......

McKraut's picture

Our Honor Defend... ╭∩╮( º.º )╭∩╮ M******n

Johnny Ginter's picture

yeah but we're cool

AndyVance's picture

Wait, wait, wait... You're telling me Mikey is from Iona? This changes everything.

Citrus's picture

Some of the business people listed were impressive. I think they could've done without all other sections.

ohiowhitesnake's picture

Tommy Dreamer? One would think that Iona degree would of got him further than ECW.

Braxton2Devin's picture

Hahahaha: "And in a puff of smoke Thad Matta is revealed to be three gnomes standing on each other's shoulders."

Michibuck's picture

Johnny,
If this is intended humor, it misses the mark. How about another article with some real info and insight?

AndyVance's picture

Lighten up, Francis.
 

 

Johnny Ginter's picture

i'm not even sure i know how to write an article with real info and insight

Idaho Helga's picture

My brain keeps looking at Cluess and tries to translate that to Clueless.   Loved the humor throughout the article. 
Awaaaaaaaay troll!   I"m sure you can find wonderful insight on mgoblog.com which is your homepage.
 
p.s.  Dang , the spell checker here did the same thing  on Cluess as my brain! Coincidence? I think not!
 
 

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

^ That was the first thing I thought when I read his name, too

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Michibuck's picture

Hey Johnny, Great reply. LOL.
Sorry I shot from the hip; first time I've read your work. I wasn't familiar with your style. Look forward to future articles. 

Buckeyeneer's picture

Wow. Different strokes for different folks. My sense of humor tends to be drawn to the absurd, which is why Johnny is one of my favorite staff writers.
I was going to post this (which I will post riiiiiiight now):

Or maybe Deshaun Thomas will explode in a shower of confetti. And Aaron Craft is arrested right before the tip for selling state secrets to North Korea. And in a puff of smoke Thad Matta is revealed to be three gnomes standing on each other's shoulders.

This is why I click on Johnny's articles.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

Doc's picture

Boo, hiss and all that stuff.  Seriously Johnny is a laugh riot, I love his articles, er stories, er writings, or whatever he wants to call them.

"Say my name."

painterlad's picture

Oh my little pretty one, my pretty one
When are you going to win in overtime, Iona
Oh you make my first round fun , my first round fun
Gun it from the three point line, Iona
Craft's never gonna stop, steal your slop
Such a defensive mind, always there on time
My my my my oh woo my Iona

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

Johnny Ginter's picture

this is not getting the love it deserves but i wish i could use my staff powers to upvote it a bajillion times

painterlad's picture

Wow...a bajillion? That would almost catch me up to Hodge.

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

Poison nuts's picture

Yeah - this should definitely be one of those comments that gets loads (bajillions?) of votes. Maybe folks are too young for The Knack?? Don't know, but +1 from me..

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

cal3713's picture

Reading this officially made me scared that our run will be over Friday night.  What's it called... tempting fate?

Buckeye Chuck's picture

The best known player in Iona history is probably Jeff Ruland, former tough guy for the Washington Bullets.
About all other Iona facts, I am Cluess.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

AndyVance's picture

I really thought Johnny would tee up that pun and drive it for about 350 yards. Good catch, Sir.

popeurban's picture

On the other hand, anyone watching Ohio State this year knows that the fast break is more than a double-edged sword. It isn't totally inconceivable that OSU might have some difficulty handling the pace that Iona will try to set

2009 Sienna was undersized and out ran us in the first round.  Not saying a repeat is in store, but I was there for that and it was awful.  

Buckeye Chuck's picture

Yeah, but that was an 8/9 game; name brands aside, the two teams were perceived as virtual equals and they were.
The Buckeyes have had some tough losses in the tournament, but they've only lost twice to a double-digit seed, and only once in the first round (in 2001). I'm a notorious worrier, and this game doesn't worry me at all. I will likely feel differently about our second round matchup.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Yep, looks like a huge mismatch, but strange things always happen during March Madness.  Who would have thought that VMI or George Mason would have made it there.  I know it's a stretch, but the Bucks still need to take it to them and take care of business. 
Go Bucks!

Poison nuts's picture

Wisconsinish!

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

AndyVance's picture

Is it just me, or does the photo of Iona's Coach look like he's trying to reenact a famous scene from one of my favorite movies?

Hovenaut's picture

Also known as a top notch Bo Ryan pose.

Gametime's picture

Good one, hahaha!

...I too dream in color and in rhyme
So I guess I'm one of a kind in a full house
Cause whenever I open my heart, my soul or my mouth
A touch of God rains out...

Jack Fu's picture

I initially read that first caption as "reach, reach, reach for the stars!"
Which obviously made me think of this.

BuckeyeBoyer85's picture

There will never be comedy genius like MST3K

Wayne Woodrow Hayes

buck-I.8's picture

Got a good chuckle from the write up, bravo. That said, I wouldn't cite 30 grand a year as expensive for a private school. A large number of Ohio liberal arts schools are quite a bit pricier than that

osu07asu10's picture

I think you'd be fairly hard pressed to find a significant number of liberal arts schools in ohio whose tuition topped $30k
EDIT: Nevermind OWU costs $39k and I give up...I.8 that is freakin absurd 

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

buck-I.8's picture

OWU, Wooster, Oberlin, Ohio Northern, Denison, Kenyon, to name a few. 30K before room and board is sadly nothing shocking in this state anymore.

painterlad's picture

Columbus College of Art and Design. Trust me, my daughter is graduating in May and it's like she bought a nice home in Upper Arlington, and I mean pre-market collapse UA.

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

buck-I.8's picture

I wouldn't put CCAD under the same umbrella as those other schools because art schools will tend to be more expensive no matter what, but it still serves our purpose.

DetroitBuckeye's picture

All I ask is that you don't pull a Mizzou.  Please, don't let us be that team that is a big name but goes out in the first round to a double digit seed and has to hear about it for the next 50 years.  

 
gravey's picture

Great article.  Screw insight and analysis.  This is far superior.
I hope we beat them by 40 simply for listing Don McLean as a Beatles and Stones hating troll alum.

MediBuck's picture

WHEN I WAS

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

buck-I.8's picture

I don't want to bring up old pain, but the minute I saw Iona next to our name, I thought it sounded awfully familiar to Siena.