Rickey McGill looks to follow A.J. English and Jordan Washington in long line of all-conference players turned out by Iona, who released non-conference schedule Wednesday. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)
When you are a two-time reigning conference champion at the mid-major level, the quest to put together a non-conference schedule that is both challenging and appropriate for your competition at the same time can be tedious, and at times, a steep hill to climb.
So when Iona became the fifth Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference program to reveal its non-league slate Wednesday afternoon, the news came as somewhat of a surprise; but when reading into the 12 games that the Gaels will contest before opening MAAC play at the end of December, it is a ledger that keeps with the longstanding tradition of head coach Tim Cluess to test his team mentally and physically before going through the league wars.
Iona opens its 2017-18 campaign on the road, journeying to SEFCU Arena on November 10 to face Albany. The meeting with Will Brown's Great Danes is one of ten games that the Gaels will play away from the Hynes Athletics Center, and the trip through upstate New York continues on with a November 14 date against Syracuse at the venerable Carrier Dome.
Sunnier and warmer climes await Iona thereafter, as the Gaels will take part in the BD Global Island of the Bahamas Showcase from November 17-19. The eight-team tournament, whose bracket has yet to be released, will see Iona take the court in three games against a field of Bradley, Coastal Carolina, Duquesne, Northern Kentucky, UTSA, Vermont, and Weber State. Upon returning to the United States, the Gaels will visit Ohio University on November 28, returning a home game they defeated the Bobcats in last December behind 30 points from Jordan Washington.
Another return match from last season is next on the docket, and will serve as Iona's home opener, that being a December 2 battle against the Knights of Fairleigh Dickinson University. The Gaels' homecoming will not be a long stay, though, as they will hit the road once more to meet NJIT on December 9 in the Highlanders' new state-of-the-art arena, which will open this season. Next up will be the second and final non-conference home game, which sees Iona host Yale on December 12.
The Gaels return to Madison Square Garden on December 17, when they take on St. John's in a much-anticipated clash between two of the New York area's most successful programs in the headlining act of the Holiday Festival. The collision with the Red Storm is Iona's first meeting with St. John's in over two decades, and it also marks the first Iona game at the Garden since January 25, 2015, when the Gaels defeated Niagara in the second half of a doubleheader that saw Mike Krzyzewski become the first men's basketball coach to win his 1,000th game, a feat he accomplished hours earlier that afternoon when his Duke Blue Devils defeated St. John's.
Two more games conclude the non-conference portion of the schedule for Iona, and both will emanate from New England. On December 19, the Gaels visit Holy Cross, before returning to Rhode Island two days later to face Dan Hurley's Rams for the third time in four seasons.
A detailed breakdown of Iona's non-conference schedule and opponents will follow in the coming days.
2017-18 Iona Non-Conference Schedule (all times TBD)
Friday, November 10: at Albany
Tuesday, November 14: at Syracuse
Friday, November 17 - Sunday, November 19: BD Global Island of the Bahamas Showcase (three games against field including Bradley, Coastal Carolina, Duquesne, Northern Kentucky, UTSA, Vermont, and Weber State)
Tuesday, November 28: at Ohio University
Saturday, December 2: vs. Fairleigh Dickinson
Saturday, December 9: at NJIT
Tuesday, December 12: vs. Yale
Sunday, December 17: at St. John's (Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden)
Tuesday, December 19: at Holy Cross
Thursday, December 21: at Rhode Island