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St. John’s to face Iona in the Holiday Festival

The Johnnies take on a local mid-major power in the Garden.

Felipe Lopez
The 90s.

St. John’s continues to step up the schedule for next season - and the Holiday Festival has a pair of interesting matchups next year.

Per Jon Rothstein, next year’s Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden will match St. John’s against Iona on Sunday December 17th. The second game will be Army taking on Air Force. The matchup is not finalized, according to NY Post’s Zach Braziller.

Three local teams, one military matchup and a local match that people have not seen since... 1995?

St. John’s lost to Iona in the Holiday festival that season, with Brian Mahoney on the sidelines, Felipe Lopez and Zendon Hamilton on the court, and Tim Welsh at Iona on the other sideline. Friends was still on. OJ Simpson was found innocent. Netscape was the hot new web browser. Guard Shamorie Ponds was not yet alive, and neither was Marcus LoVett.

It was that long ago.

This edition should be a good offensive game, with both teams wanting to push the tempo, protect the ball and aggressively shoot three-pointers. (Iona, like St. John’s, has not been good at rebounding the ball.)

The Iona Gaels, two-time MAAC Tournament Champions and NCAA Tournament participants, are coached by former St. John’s (and Hofstra) player Tim Cluess; the roster next season will include star point guard Rickey McGill and two other guards who averaged between nine and 11 points per game. The Gaels will also add a grad transfer big man from Tulsa.

Chris Mullin’s squad has really stepped up the schedule for next season, with St. Joseph’s on the slate along with Duke, the AdvoCare Invitational, a contest in Phoneix against Grand Canyon, a tilt in Los Angeles against Arizona State, and a home date with the Duke Blue Devils. Add in the Gavitt Games matchup against Nebraska, and this schedule has a lot of meat.