Iona says first MAAC title since ’01 ‘nothing to celebrate’

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Iona’s 77-72 win against Fairfield Friday night earned the Gaels their first regular-season Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title in more than a decade, something that won’t surprise anyone who’s seen them play this season.

Iona (23-6, 14-3) features two guys who have shot at making NBA rosters in point guard Scott Macado and forward Mike Glover, not to mention shooting guard Momo Jones, who was a key part of Arizona’s run to the Elite Eight last season. Throw in sophomore Sean Armand – who scored all 17 of his points vs. Fairfield in the second half, 15 of which in a 5-minute span – and Iona has enough talent to run away with the league title and win an NCAA tournament game.

Yet a few puzzling losses in which Iona blew double-digit leads to Siena and Manhattan kept things close until the last few weeks.

Maybe that’s why Iona didn’t pop any bubbly Friday night (metaphorically speaking; some guys aren’t 21). They expected this.

From the NY Daily News:

“There’s nothing to celebrate,” Armand said. “We did what we were supposed to do, we were preseason No. 1. We felt like we should be No. 1 and that’s what we did. So now we’re going to go to Springfield (for the MAAC Tournament) and we’ll go from there.”

Machado agreed with Armand’s take on the lack of celebration.

“Like Sean said, we were predicted to be No. 1 and felt like we were supposed to be No. 1 so this is just the beginning. We want something bigger than this.”

Something bigger would be Iona’s second-ever NCAA tournament win. The Gaels have been to the Big Dance eight times, but their only win came back in 1980 vs. Holy Cross. The coach? None other than Jim Valvano, who would win an NCAA title just a few years later with N.C. State.

That’d be quite the feat for Tim Cluess to match.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

PHOTO: Baylor shows off new uniforms

Scott Drew
Associated Press
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Wednesday afternoon the Baylor basketball program sent out some images of its uniform combinations for the upcoming season, and the volt color way that first made a splash in 2012 is back. Baylor’s got four different uniforms it can wear this season: home (white), away (green) and two alternate uniforms.

While there is some volt green in each of the four uniforms, its presence is relatively tame compared to the uniforms Scott Drew’s program wore back in 2012. Of course those uniforms were part of adidas’ AdiZero uniform release (Baylor is now outfitted by Nike), with two other schools (Cincinnati and Louisville) wearing colorful uniforms with shorts that had “interesting” patterns on them.

While some of the new uniform designs in college sports have received some pushback from fans and alums, this stuff is about the players and recruits programs look to land for the future. Everyone likes free stuff, and when it comes to apparel for young athletes having something that’s both free and “exclusive” is seen as a positive.

Pressure is on new coach Steve Prohm at Iowa State

Steve Prohm
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AMES, Iowa (AP) Five months ago, Iowa State’s Steve Prohm was the coach at mid-major Murray State. Now he’s in charge of one of the big favorites in the Big 12.

Prohm officially began his first season in charge of the Cyclones on Tuesday with the team’s annual media day.

Iowa State has all the pieces to make a run at the league title and more – provided that Prohm can handle coaching college basketball at the highest level, of course.

In the minds of Prohm’s players, the Cyclones have nothing to worry about.

“Coach (Prohm) is in here earning our trust and our respect every day,” said senior forward Georges Niang. “Even though he’s not trying to cross any of our toes, he puts his foot down when he needs to and lets us know that stuff needs to get done. I think he has a great combination of how to keep us motivated…and still be stern and be able to get the most out of us.”

Fred Hoiberg’s departure for the Chicago Bulls after five mostly successful seasons gave Prohm a shot at a national title. The roster Hoiberg left behind for Prohm is loaded.

Niang, a likely preseason first-team All-American, second-team All-Big 12 point guard Monte Morris and league defensive player of the year Jameel McKay headline one of the nation’s most talented starting units. Throw in veterans like Naz Long, Matt Thomas, Abdel Nader and transfer Deonte Burton, and Prohm might just have the best roster a new Power Five coach has inherited since Bill Guthridge took over for Dean Smith at North Carolina in 1997.

Guthridge reached the Final Four with his first team.

Prohm isn’t shying away from the notion that Iowa State is among the handful of teams with serious national title aspirations.

“Yeah, they’re realistic,” Prohm said when asked about the sky-high expectations for this year’s team. “I think we have the opportunity to have a very special season.”

The similarities between what type of styles Prohm and Hoiberg use was cited as a big reason why Iowa State hired him. Hoiberg even lobbied for Prohm to athletic director Jamie Pollard during the hiring process.

To that end, Prohm is going to let his players have a ton of input on how they play. Prohm doesn’t plan many changes, just tweaks that mostly involve techniques to improve Iowa State’s somewhat inconsistent rebounding and defense.

“I don’t need to say, `This is the way we’re doing things guys because this is the way I did it.’ That’s stupid,” Prohm said. “I need to meet these guys halfway.”

Prohm also acknowledged that he’ll be doing quite a bit of learning himself this season. But Prohm said he intends to embrace the unique opportunity he’s been afforded.

“This is a great situation to walk into. No question,” Prohm said. “Is there pressure? Yeah. But who wants a job with no pressure?”