Iona’s Assists or Why the Offense Will Stay Strong

This season the Iona offense was run by the steady hand of Scott Machado. One of the nation’s best point guards, Machado led the nation in assists per game during the 2011-12 season. He was also fourth in assist rate (behind Utah’s Josh Watkins, Penn State’s Tim Frazier and UNC’s Kendall Marshall). As you’ll see below, Machado was a big driver in the success of a number of players’ success this season. Of course, Machado is a senior and will be heading to the NBA next season. The keys are going to be turned over to Lamont “Momo” Jones in 2012-13.

Asked to play off the ball and complement Machado for most of the season Jones did his best. He had one of the lowest turnover rates in the nation at 15.8%, but he also had a low assist rate at 14.2%. The latter is probably an aftereffect of playing alongside Machado and Jones being asked to be more of a shot creator than a true point guard. It’s not like he was a slouch passing the ball either, Jones still had 95 assists in 2011-12.

Comparing the trends of the assists of Machado and Jones gives us some insight into what the differences will be between them moving forward. It’s very interesting to look at how the distribution of assists change from player to player and what that could mean moving forward.

Scott Machado’s Assists:
The two graphs below show the distribution of Machado’s 322 assists I have data for by player and by type of shot.

What you see there is that Mike Glover received a large percentage (29.8%) of Machado’s assists this season. This led to a large number of Machado’s assists resulting in layups (42.2%) and dunks (10.9%). Machado liked to feed the post as Randy Dezouvre and Taaj Ridley each received 32 assists for Machado as well. Here’s a fun chart of the players who benefitted the most from Machado’s assists (by the percentage of their total baskets that Machado assisted on).

What’s that chart tell us? Dezouvre, Smyth and Glover all benefitted a lot from having Machado around. As you’ll see below Sean Armand benefitted from both Machado and Jones.

Lamont Jones’ Assists:

The big blue pieces of these graphs show the difference between Machado and Jones. While most of Machado’s assists went to Glover, most of Jones’ (28.4%) went to Armand. Logically, this meant that many of Jones’ assists (51.6%) resulted in threes. It really shows the difference between the two.


By now you’ve probably figured out how Armand shot 46.2% on three-pointers this season. He was basically a catch-and-shoot extraordinaire. Machado and Jones did all the work of creating those shots. Sixty-seven of Armand’s 107 made field goals (and 62 of his 79 threes) came off assists from one of Iona’s lead guards.

Well, one of those guards, Jones, is still going to be around next season. Three other players that are going to be around in 2012-13 (Ra’Shad James, Taaj Ridley and Kyle Smyth) had approximately the same percentage of assists from both Jones and Machado.

You’ve probably noticed that this leaves one key piece to Iona’s attack next season, Randy Dezouvre. How well Jones embraces being the point guard next season and feeding the post is going to go a long way towards determining exactly what the impact of a player like Dezouvre is next season. It’s possible that most of his points, which came assists from Machado this season, are going to have to come from more hustle plays in the flow of the offense.

It also looks like Iona could become even more three-point dependent next season. It’s not guaranteed, but after losing a physical presence like Glover it makes sense. The Gaels could struggle in 2012-13 against larger MAAC teams such as Loyola (MD). Then again MAAC play is almost a year away. I’m sure Tim Cluess is going to spend a lot of time figuring it all out.

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