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St. John’s to face Iona at Holiday Festival: official

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The Johnnies and Gaels renew a dormant rivalry.

Photos by Isaiah J. Downing, Anthony Gruppuso, USA Today

Iona in the Holiday Festival is officially on.

St. John’s announced today that St. John’s will take on Iona on Sunday, December 17th at Madison Square Garden as part of the Holiday Festival. The Army vs. Air Force game has not yet been announced officially, but should be the other game in the doubleheader.

St. John’s has faced Iona nine times, and none since 1995, as we mentioned in the earlier post about this matchup. St. John’s is 6-3 overall against the neighbors from New Rochelle, but lost that game in 1995.

Now, former St. John’s player Tim Cluess comes in with a strong Iona team - two time MAAc champions and NCAA Tournament participants - against former St. John’s star Chris Mullin’s Red Storm squad.

Iona has won 20 or more games in each season since 2009-2010, when Kevin Willard left for Seton Hall and Tim Cluess took over. (The previous years under Jeff Ruland were more of a struggle). The Red Storm have had three 20-game winning seasons in thqt span in the Big East.

The Gaels have made the NCAA Tournament eight times since St. John’s last faced them in 1995, albeit from a far easier conference to in. St. John’s has made the NCAA Tournament six times in that span, four times between the 1997-98 season and the 2001-02 season.

Both teams play fast, so the game should be entertaining.

The Red Storm return a strong backcourt of Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds, plus Bashir Ahmed, forwards Tariq Owens, Kassoum Yakwe and Amar Alibegovic. The Johnnies also add transfers Justin Simon at guard and Marvin Clark at forward, plus freshmen Sidney Wilson and Bryan Trimble to the attack.

Other games on the Red Storm schedule include Duke at Madison Square Garden, St. Joseph’s at Mohegan Sun, the AdvoCare Invitational tournament which includes Missouri, West Virginia, Nebraska, Long Beach State and others, a road trip to Phoenix to play against Grand Canyon, a match in Los Angeles against Arizona State, plus the Gavitt Games matchup against Nebraska.