College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, January 20, 2012
Until tournament time comes around in March, Friday nights are reserved for smaller schools and that's where we found the Iona Gaels, playing in one of just five NCAA games on the slate.
The Gaels, seeking a return to the NCAA tournament, a place they haven't been since 2006, when they lost to LSU in first round, 80-64, know they'll likely have to capture the MAAC tournament to receive the automatic bid.
On Friday, they took a step in the right direction, with a 91-71 win over Rider, the team they beat in last season's conference semi-final, only to lose the final to St. Peter's, 62-57, landing them a berth in the Collegeinsider.com tourney.
Leading the charge for Iona was their top scorer and rebounder, senior forward, Michael Glover, who had another superior effort, hitting 8 of 9 shots from the field for a game high 21 points, to go with nine boards and three assists.
Scott Machado, the senior guard who leads the nation in assists (10.6 per game), chipped in with 11 points, nine boards and 15 assists.
The combination of these two leaders with assorted role players has the Gaels atop the MAAC, with a 7-1 record and a 15-4 mark overall, putting them in position to earn a spot at the Big Dance come March.
One part of the Gaels' strategy has been to play a ton of road games. In December, the Gaels spent the entire month on the road, playing eight straight contests in opponents' facilities. They've already played 10 away games and will embark upon a three-game road trip to Sienna, Fairfield and St. Peter's, last year's NCAA entrant, beginning Monday, January 23.