St. John’s takes on the high-scoring Iona Gaels at Madison Square Garden in a game that is sure to have high-energy scoring on both sides.
With the Johnnies at a solid 8-2, winning the first of four games in Madison Square Garden is important. Just as important is maintaining the non-conference strength as a buffer against tough Big East games to come.
Full preview to come, but let’s take a look at what Tim Cluess’ Gaels will bring down to Manhattan from their New Rochelle - and a detailed look at Iona’s style.
Iona record: 5-4
KenPom Rank: 133
Best win: at Ohio Bobcats, 93-88
Curious loss: in the Bahamas to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, 89-84
Last five games: LWWWW
Iona is a veteran team with a number of guards returning. The forwards are nearly all newcomers. Tim Cluess’s team likes to get early shots and will impress with their offensive skill and small lineups.
Iona has played a high-possession, offensively-focused style under Tim Cluess. This year, however, the Gaels are slowing down opponents and slowing the pace overall... but it has not improved the defense quite yet.
The Gaels have allowed over a point per possession to every opponent except in their win over the Weber State Wildcats, who scored .99 points per possession. Defensively, they allow room for opponents to pass the ball and take outside shots. Iona forces few turnovers, allow 38% shooting outside the arc and 51% scoring inside the arc, but do not often foul. Tim Cluess’s team will play some zone.
On offense, however, the Gaels handle the ball well. The team turns the ball on fewer than 16% of possessions (24th in the nation) and assist on 62% of made shots. They will eagerly shoot three-pointers (44% of their attempts); St. John’s will need to tend to their quick perimeter players.
The Gaels are generally jump shooters; they draw fouls at a rate that is in the bottom 15 of all NCAA Division I squads.
On both ends, Iona has been poor at rebounding - allowing opponents to grab 32% of their misses (261st in the country) and grabbing 35% of their misses (282nd in the NCAA).
The shooting of Deyshonee Much and Rickey McGill will pace Iona. Both players are from the state and both have played for Tim Cluess for the past three seasons.
Rickey McGill (#0), a tough 6’1” point guard, will pick up steams and is shooting 40% from beyond the arc, while assisting on 29% of his teammates’ made shots. He has recorded three games with seven assists and three games with six assists.
Both McGill and Much (more on him below) have struggles inside the three-point line, though McGill shoots a relatively decent 32% on jump shots inside the arc.
U Mass transfer Zach Lewis (#1) is a slashing point guard with an unreliable jump shot; he can be a solid defender on the perimeter. He recorded nine assists in the loss to Coastal Carolina. He also has eight turnovers through eight games.
Schadrac Casimir (#4) is a 5’10” guard who has been a good outside shooter, despite going 0/4 from distance in the last two games.
C.J. Seaforth (#3) is a 6’1” backup who has played 31 minutes over the past two games - after only playing four minutes all season. He has taken all but one of his shots from beyond the arc and shot 3/8 on his attempts (and 1/1 inside the arc).
Deyshonee Much (#15), who scored a season-high 19 points in Iona’s last game against the Yale Bulldogs on Tuesday, is a 6’5” scorer who is shooting 35% from beyond the arc - a number lower than last year’s 38% or the previous year’s 45%.
He can have solid defensive stretches. But he can also have MIA offensive performances; Much went scoreless in the win over Fairleigh Dickinson this year and scored five points on 2/11 shooting against Ohio.
E.J. Crawford (#2), a sophomore wing, can be a real problem when he is on. He scored a career-high 24 against Yale on Tuesday, 19 in the previous game. Crawford, who stands at 6’6”, is a deadly scorer and can be a decent defensive rebounder. He is shooting 63% inside the arc and 37% from beyond the three-point line.
Tulsa grad transfer TK Edogi (#13) has been excellent for the Gaels. Finally on the court after three years of limited playing time, Edogi has a pair of 20-point games and has been an effective force near the rim on offense and on the glass. He has scored five points in the last two games, logging 22 minutes in total, however.
Jan Svandrlik (#20) has stepped up in his last four games in his senior year at Iona. Strictly an outside shooter, he scored 27 points against Fairleigh Dickinson, nailing 6/11 from outside the three-point line. On the season, he is shooting 55% from long distance and 4/4 inside the arc.
Roland Griffin (#11), a transfer from Illinois State, has been an effective scorer in the paint. hitting 58% of his shots inside the arc - and 43% on mid-range jump shots.
The Gaels have had six starting lineups in nine games this season; the latest configuration of the Gaels has been Deyshonee Much/ Schadrac Casimir/ Rickey McGill/ TK Edogi/ EJ Crawford.