Deyshonee Much returned to action again Wednesday, stuffing stat sheet in Iona's win over NJIT. (Photo by Brian Beyrer/Iona College Athletics)
NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- The first part of the non-conference season has not been as effective for Deyshonee Much as some had hoped, partly because the Iona sharpshooter is still dealing with the lingering effects of a knee injury suffered in November.
While the malady is fortunately not severe enough to require surgery, the Gaels have been without their marksman for stretches as they gear up for Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, and the redshirt junior even admitted he may have rushed himself back in an attempt to maintain the status quo of winning.
"I think so," Much responded when asked if he came back too soon last Sunday against Niagara. "It's hard to watch from the sidelines when you go through preseason and all that. It's hard to waste games, but I think I came back too early."
With nine days of rest in between Iona's 74-58 loss to Niagara on December 4 and Wednesday's 94-80 win over NJIT, Much only played 24 minutes, but posted a well-rounded line of six points, six rebounds, five assists and six steals as the Gaels won their third consecutive game to improve to 7-3 on the season.
"I'm feeling better," he admitted. "It's a mindset thing too. When you come back from injury, there's a chance you could come out and play shaky out of nervousness. It's a mental thing, and I tried to get myself out of it, telling myself I'd be fine."
"Him coming back with a strong defensive effort was huge," said head coach Tim Cluess of Much's contribution to the winning cause. "Rebounding the ball, getting deflections and bringing that side of it, not worrying about how many shots he got or how many points he scored, I think that was a real mature thing for him to do, and it really helped our team."
And with an extra week of rest before Iona heads to Las Vegas for the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic, the added time to focus can only be a boon to both Much and Iona as a team with the resumption of MAAC play fast approaching.
"I thought it was really important, and the way he handled it was more important than even how we did," said Cluess. "I don't think he would have handled it this well earlier on. It's tough when you're a guy who scored a lot a year ago and you're struggling early on, then he gets hurt. Sometimes guys will come back and try to rush more than they should, but he let the game come to him today; almost to a fault, but he did a terrific job of that. I just love that in a player who wants to step up and make the play."