Iona defeated Marist, but without Kelvin Amayo, who has left team for personal reasons. (Photo courtesy of Brian Beyrer via Iona College Athletics)
In the wake of Iona's 90-80 victory over Marist, the Gaels' 26th straight on their home floor at the Hynes Athletics Center, here are some takeaways following a win that improved Iona to 6-0 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play heading into Friday's marquee matchup against Monmouth:
- Kelvin Amayo has left the program.The senior forward battled injury through much of the first half of the season, and had just returned to the rotation a week ago against Quinnipiac, but following today's game, head coach Tim Cluess had this to say:
"He's left the team for personal reasons," Cluess prefaced, addressing Amayo's departure. "He's got some issues that he's working on, and it's really going to be up to a few things. I really don't have a comment whether or not it's for good right now."
Without Amayo, a Swiss army knife of sorts, Iona has used a combination of small ball and their length up front, two strategies that have helped them mitigate other injuries to A.J. English, Schadrac Casimir, and Deyshonee Much during the year. It will be interesting to see how the Gaels tackle some of the stronger front lines, such as those of Monmouth and Siena, as the season rolls on.
- Mike Maker stressed his optimism for Marist's future, and also stressed Iona's potential.
The Red Foxes' second-year coach praised the contributions of Kristinn Palsson (12 points, 8 rebounds) and Obi Momah, (11 points, 6 rebounds) who entered today's contest with just 13 points and 19 rebounds over his entire career, as the two supplemented the production of Khallid Hart and Brian Parker. "I think it's encouraging," Maker said of the supporting cast. "Clearly, our strengths are in our backcourt. I think Khallid is one of the best players in our league, and I thought the same for Chavaughn (Lewis). Unfortunately, both players have not had the supporting cast than A.J. (English) has, yet this year, I think that we have much better balance than we had a year ago. We just don't have the experience, so we're playing with a lot of young players."
Of Iona, Maker was equally as complimentary. "If they get to the (NCAA) Tournament," he said, "I think they'll be really dangerous, just because they can put up numbers and can beat you in a variety of ways. They're better defensively than people give them credit for, and I hope our program someday looks a lot like theirs."
- Tim Cluess continues to downplay the Monmouth hype.
As the Hawks come to New Rochelle Friday night, the Iona coach insists it truly is just another game on the schedule. "We're excited for every game," he brusquely stated when asked if his players may be a little more amped up for the nationally televised tilt. "We're excited for every team we play in this league. Every team in this league is really talented, really good, and really well-coached. So no matter who you put out there, we're excited to play."