The Iona Gaels made history this season, they won their conference tournament to earn their first NCAA Tournament berth. Billi Godsey’s bnuch hangs their hats on their defensive ability and sheer heart, both of which will be needed if they wish to accomplish their goal of upsetting the Maryland Terrapins.
During their press conference with the media this morning, it’s clear that this team isn’t going to be intimidated. They also made it known that they’ve had enough time between the conference tournament and Selection Monday to enjoy their accomplishment and move on from it. Joy Adams, Marina Lizarazu, and Aaliyah Robinson dripped of determination and confidence during their time with the media.
Lizarazu and Adams were First Team All-MAAC selections and Marina won the MOP for the Conference Tournament. Despite her size at 5-11, Adams is a force inside as she’s averaged a double-double this year with 14.6 points and 12.1 rebounds a contest. Joy is also the All-Time leading rebounder in school and conference history. That trio will have a lot on it’s shoulders, but it’s a full team thing on the defensive end.
Yielding just 56.6 points a game, they like Maryland do a great job of limiting opponents quality looks from beyond the arc. Areas that are for concern are their tendency to turn the ball over a game at 16 and their rebounding margin. They can’t afford to give up ground against a bigger and more physical Maryland team that has a plethora of bigs with size after Brionna Jones.
Coach Godsey feels confident in her bunch and Adams issued a statement that is always true this time of year. “It’s March Madness, anything is possible” she said, after watching some of the big upsets on the mens side of the tournament in the first round, she’s definitely right. Iona has to be thinking, why not us?
It’s going to take a ton of discipline, especially on the defensive end for Iona to put themselves in the position for an upset. They’ll also have to have one of their best rebounding efforts in school history, in addition to cutting their turnovers in half. They’ll have to limit Maryland’s transition opportunities while creating their own, Ohio State had success earlier this season against the Terps by cutting down on their turnovers and pushing the pace. It’s one thing when Maryland is dictating the tempo and when they run, it’s another when the opponent has the tempo and is forcing Maryland on it’s heels. It’s a tall task, a very tall task, but Iona is over the “just being here” stage and is ready to shock the world.