In the aftermath of their stunning loss to BYU in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, Iona was faced with a 2012-13 roster that consisted of just four players.
Yes, four. With the likes of Mike Glover and Scott Machado being out of eligibility and Kyle Smyth deciding to transfer for his final season, head coach Tim Cluess and his staff had a lot of work to do.
The Gaels announced the fruits of that recruiting labor on Thursday, welcoming nine new players into the program.
Iowa State transfer Tavon Sledge, who played his high school ball at Half Hollow Hills West (NY) on Long Island, will sit out the 2012-13 season per NCAA transfer rules.
Five of the nine newcomers hail from junior college programs, including sharpshooter Brandon Parga (Pico Rivera, CA) and forwards DeSean Anderson (Inglewood, CA) and David Laury (West Orange, NJ).
There’s also Toledo transfer Curtis Dennis, who averaged 12.7 points per game last season and will be eligible immediately.
The Rockets fell short of the APR benchmarks, making them ineligible for postseason play and Dennis decided to finish his career at a school that has postseason hopes.
Another junior college transfer from Inglewood will be vitally important to Iona this season in their quest to win a highly-competitive MAAC.
DaShawn Gomez will be expected to compete with returning starter Momo Jones for minutes at the point as Iona attempts to account for the loss of Scott Machado.
One would have to assume that Jones will be one of the five starters regardless of which guard spot he occupies, and Gomez’s play will determine how much leeway coach Cluess enjoys in constructing the rotation.
Team chemistry will be something to watch with Iona, especially with defending tournament champion Loyola (MD) returning the majority of their key contributors and Fairfield and Siena also returning key players.
Whether or not Iona is successful in their quest for a second consecutive NCAA bid remains to be seen.
But the process of getting this many players to work together will certainly be interesting to watch.