The timeliness of this article is a little off, but yesterday I was sidetracked with college football and...well, there has to be a tactful way to put this...major conference college basketball.
Picked to finish last in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Marist has proved critics wrong, beating Iona Friday, 51-50—and now the Red Foxes are tied for first place.
Okay, that was a sensational lead. Aside from it being each team's first MAAC game, the fact of the matter is, the game was bad. Really bad. Don't let this breathtaking Associated Press recap fool you. Ah, shameless 150-word self-promotion.
As all bad journalists do, I wrote the lead of my story before the game ended. Then I had to rewrite it a second time. Then I had to rewrite it again!
It looked a little like this.
"Marist started the game on a 13-2 run and never looked back Friday, beating Iona..."
Oops, hang on.
"Iona overcame a double-digit deficit to beat Marist in each team's MAAC opener Friday..."
Oh crap, Dejuan just hit the game winner. Here we go.
"Dejuan Goodwin hit a game-winning jump shot..."
There it is.
You see, Marist jumped out to a 13-2 lead on eight points from Goodwin, and the McCann Center was bumping as if it were Cameron Indoor Stadium. It was actually nice to see the Jared Jordan leftover fans embrace this new-look squad as its own. I definitely expected a mutiny, but the kids love their college basketball.
Side note: Jared Jordan WAS in attendance. OMG!
Back to the game, Iona shot 27 percent from the field in the first half, and started the second half pretty miserable, too. They eventually caught Marist, taking a five-point lead with a minute to go.
Ryan Schneider hit a clutch three-pointer with 56 seconds left, just before fouling out. It brought Marist to within two points. Schneider is by far Marist's best clutch player, as he went 3-4 from the charity stripe in the final 12 seconds in the previous Saturday's win against New Hampshire.
It wouldn't have been such a big deal, but Marist let UNH whittle a 15-point lead down to two before it was all said and done. The clean up crew hasn't been doing its job for the Red Foxes this season. Come to think of it, there is no clean up crew.
Box scores are misleading at times, because Schneider went 6-14 from the field, including 5-11 from downtown. A lot of those shots shouldn't have been taken, but the ones he made were huge. He's like the opposite of A-Rod. He makes 'em when the team needs it, and misses when there's no drama.
So Schneider is fouled out, and he's the leader on the team. Nobody else has really found their way, and the team has NO chemistry without him, so clearly they're screwed.
Goodwin proved naysayers like me wrong, bringing the team together, culminating in a 16-foot leaner with one second left to give the Red Foxes the W.
It's tough to say whether Marist won this game, or whether Iona lost it. My final answer is Marist won it. Not with style though. I give the Red Foxes the nod only because they went 6-16 from the free-throw line. Even if they shot 60 percent, it wouldnt' have been so close in the end.
Free throws have been Marist's big problem so far, shooting around 60 percent on the year, a la Memphis 2007-2008. Those numbers aren't going to win Marist a national championship.
The Red Foxes are also ranked somewhere around 324th in Division I with eight assists per game. Not good.
Oh yeah, and there's my favorite stat: The Red Foxes have had 59 shots blocked in seven games. That's a lot.
Iona shot 0-10 from three-point range, likely saving Marist, and the Gaels' seven-footer, Jonathan Huffman, a transfer from Louisville, only played 20 minutes. Marist likes to run up and down the court, so that probably winded Huffman, who only had one personal foul.
Iona was picked to finish seventh in the MAAC, so it's not that huge of an upset, but Marist will take it. Any conference win they notch this season is an upset. We might end up seeing a few more of those than we expected if this team can get its act together.
Other notes from the game
Marist's David Devezin was hampered by a foot injury, the talk of the press room before the game started. He still ran the point for 33 minutes with four assists and only two turnovers.
Nobody on Iona played 30 minutes. Depth? Or lack of conditioning?
Iona shot 80 percent from the line, including 10-12 in the second half.
This was the Red Foxes' best assist/turnover ratio in a regulation game this season. That's not saying much, with 10 assists and 16 turnovers.