Game Notes: Iona at Marshall
The Herd tramples Iona with ease.
Already knowing that we were going to be in the area to see Huntington Prep, Ty Kish from CityLeagueHoops and I scoured basketball schedules looking for any game that we could find on that Sunday before making the trek back to Ohio. It would have been a successful trip seeing Huntington Prep destroy the Newt Oliver Coaches’ Classic, but much to our pleasure, Iona was playing at Marshall the next day so it was a given that we’d be there.
Iona rolled into the game with a 8-1 record and boasted both the conference’s best player (Michael Glover) and best point guard (Scott Machado). Throw in Arizona transfer Lamont “MoMo” Jones and you’ve got three players who are going to be a problem for any school in the nation. Marshall was sporting a 6-2 record (including a win over Cincinnati) and was filled with prep school players/transfers from other schools who were steals for the mid-major program. All of this, plus a live atmosphere made for a legit out of conference game early in the season.
The game started off with Iona taking control early behind the play of their star Michael Glover. The 6-7 power forward was impossible to contain on the low block, giving a clinic in moves on the low block while finishing with either hand. Iona controlled the tempo of the game, running a Phoenix Suns “7 seconds or less”-type offense to get the ball up the court and take the first available good look, as they didn’t have the size to compete with Marshall once things got settled in the half court. After relying mostly on talent alone early on, Marshall finally got things going at the end of the first behind DeAndre Kane and Damier Pitts and were able to take a 42-40 lead at the half.
The second half was the same as the end of the first half for Marshall: Pure domination. Spikes, Goff and Hinton provided the muscle inside while Damier Pitts and Justin Coleman caught fire from the perimeter. The 2-point lead quickly grew to double figures, largely based on Iona’s inability to get Glover the rock in the second half. Averaging more points than anyone in the land at over 90 per game, the Gaels were held to a pedestrian 63 and caught a 82-63 loss to Marshall.
Here are a few of the key points from the game:
Mike Glover is a monster. Having watched Glover since way back in the day when he was doing his thing at the now defunct Boys To Men Academy (coolest name for a high school ever?) in Chicago and then when he did his thing with Tyreke at American Christian in Philly, we were well aware of what he could do on the hardwood. Eligibility issues took him on a detour from his original destination of Seton Hall and after two years of doing his thing in JuCo, the Bronx native came back home to New York to finish up his collegiate career. Against Marshall, he was a man among boys early on. Forced to play out of position at the center spot, the senior did the majority of his damage with his back to the basket where he showed off killer footwork and craftiness
When Damier Pitts gets it going, there aren’t many people who can stop him. Having watched Pitts since he was doing his thing at Hargrave Military Academy, I’ve known that he was a point guard who could get buckets on just about anyone. The problem was that many people just couldn’t get past his generously listed size of 5-10, so he was forced to go the mid-major route. As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and Pitts has been making everybody pay ever since having established himself as one of the better point guards in Conference USA over the past two years. Once he got things going early on in the second half in Iona, I knew that things were going to get ugly quickly for Iona if he stayed that aggressive. He did and wound up finishing with 25 and 5 dimes, while scoring in any way imaginable. The scoring point made a number of timely threes, got in the paint at will, and dropped a few teardrop floaters in the lane. If Pitts is able to keep this sort of play up, Marshall may be able to give C-USA power Memphis a run for their money.
Marshall is straight loaded on the wings. Starting with last year’s Conference USA Freshman of the Year DeAndre Kane, Marshall throws together a group of wings that not many mid-major programs can match. Kane, who played HS ball in Pittsburgh with DeJaun Blair and DJ Kennedy, has established himself as arguably the top wing in the conference with his all around game. He’s able to get buckets from three, mid-range, and at the rim while showing some potential as a combo guard with his court vision. It doesn’t stop with him, though. Justin Coleman was signed to Louisville but after not making it academically, the 6-4 freshman decided to go to Marshall as a partial qualifier. After a year off of the court, the explosive athlete is still carving his niche but proved to be a problem to defend with his explosive first step and J that will keep you honest. Throw in senior two guard Shaquille Johnson who can get off the bench and you see why Marshall may have the best wings in the conference.
Is Scott Machado the best point guard in the nation? Putting up video game-like averages of 15 points, 10 assists and 4 rebounds per game, there was talk by some that Machado could possibly be the top point guard in the NCAA. While we aren’t ready to anoint him that title yet, we’ll certainly give him the best in the MAAC. After putting up monster games earlier this season, Machado fell back to planet earth with a 12-point, 8-assist, 6-turnover showing. The NCAA’s leading assist man is still dropping 15 points and 10 dimes per game, so expect him to have no shortage of NBA Draft workouts once the season ends for Iona.