Iona, Manhattan show why these tournaments mean so much

Leave a comment

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — David Laury didn’t answer a single question or offer a single comment during the postgame press conference after Iona defeated Manhattan 60-57 to capture the MAAC Championship and secure an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. Yet, as the 6-foot-8 Iona forward walked back to the locker room across the MassMutual Center floor he broke his silence and let out a, “woooo” as he passed the benched and headed into the tunnel.

As No. 4 Iona began dancing, it was the polar opposite for No. 6 Manhattan. Believe it or not, the Jaspers, who scored 34 points in a win 11 days ago, don’t have a resume worthy of an at-large bid like Iona was last year after being upset by Fairfield in the semifinals.

The two different emotions show why for all the talent that fills the power conferences, tournaments like the MAAC mean so much more, win it or it’s over. The Gaels entered a deep conference tournament and in three games in consecutive nights by a total of 13 points.

“I said at the beginning of the season we’re going to make the tournament the right way,” junior guard Sean Armand said. “We got an at-large bid because of our hard work, but this year I told the guys I really want to make it because we earned that spot.”

MoMo Jones, Iona’s leading scorer, has now been apart of three straight NCAA tournament teams, dating back to 2011 when he played with Arizona.

“I mean, honestly, making the tournament is making the tournament is making the tournament,” Jones said. “I’m serious. I don’t think there is a different feeling, I think there’s more too it, being that we’re coming out representing this conference. Last year, we we’re representing the conference, but it was more so Loyola (Md.) because they won the conference championship.”

This time last year, Iona had to sweat it out on Selection Sunday and luckily heard its named called. Usually that isn’t the case, in fact, the Gaels may not have been selected at all if it wasn’t for the addition of the First Four, expanding the field to 68 teams.

Jones can down play the feeling of punching their ticket to the dance, saying its no different than getting an at-large bid, but as he made his way back to the locker room he couldn’t help but bask in his accomplishment. As several Iona coaches stood in the hallway, chatting and smiling, Jones came back out from the locker room and shouted for them to come int and celebrate.

The feeling is definitely different this time around for the Gaels, instead of dreading Selection Sunday, they get to kickback and relax while 67 other teams have their names called.

Terrence is also the lead writer at and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
Leave a comment

Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Leave a comment

We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.