Three thoughts following Iona’s 94-71 victory over Rider as they advance to the semifinals on Sunday.
David Laury: The Key to the Gaels’ Springfield Run Yet Again – The only case against David Laury for being MAAC sixth man of the year was that he was not eligible. The junior started seven conference games, which ruled him out for the league’s best bench player award, but since he’s come off the bench on January 19, he has been hard to stop.
“I think that’s what Dave can do,” Iona head coach Tim Cluess said of his performance Saturday. “He has a very high ceiling. If he continues to work this hard, he can get better and better. I think we’re seeing a better side of Dave than we did earlier in the year and I think our whole team is enjoying that.”
Laury, who broke out last season during the MAAC tournament, showed off all facets of his game on Saturday against Rider coasting to his sixth double-double of the season. The junior showed off his propensity to do the dirty work inside as well as his patented running head start from the free throw line. Late in the first half, Laury’s pass to the wing was tipped by Zedric Sadler and Laury grabbed the errant tip and drove it to the basket to put Iona up 45-29.
The part of his game you have to be concerned with, his season-long 56.8% free throw shooting, did not show up when he made eight of his nine chances from the line. His lone miss in the first half, a missed front end of the bonus, was tipped out from his teammate Tre Bowman and Laury made a layup converting a three-point play.
The part where Laury has improved his game the most is as a passer, as he shows the ability to throw strong passes from any part of the floor. Laury, leading the way as point forward, tossed key passes to beat Rider’s 2-2-1 pressure throughout and proved to be an active defender.
Laury’s final line finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal. When the Gaels have this Laury, who can seemingly do anything and everything, they will be a tough out for any MAAC opponent.
Tre Bowman on Fire – The other reason whoever wins the second quarterfinal game Saturday should be worried is that senior Tre Bowman has started to become a consistent threat.
Teams know to be worried about Sean Armand, who poured in 28 points – one point off his career-high set at Florida Gulf Coast. Bowman sunk a game-high five three-pointers, but opponents need to be worried by how much the senior was able to drive the baselines with ease against the Broncs on Saturday.
Bowman has been a beneficiary of the Gaels unselfish style this season and said he credits that unselfishness to their success in winning the regular season title.
“I think we played with a lot of confidence on offense, nobody was selfish out there,” Bowman said. “Everybody did a good job of sharing the ball and we were just lucky enough to make shots today.”
Broncs Season Ends in Disappointment – It’s too bad the Rider Broncs spiraled the way they did this season. A team that emerged as an elite offensive team, but could not defend started to make strides toward the middle of the year as a team that could hold opponents under a point per possession. However, the offense did not carry over the season’s final month and add to that a team that struggled to be healthy and the Broncs finished three games under .500 in Kevin Baggett’s second season.
Those struggles reared their ugly head on Saturday as the Broncs were unable to connect on enough three-pointers, making just eight of 23 three’s. They also picked the wrong time to lose their defensive edge as the Gaels made slightly fewer than 60% of their field goals.
Sophomore captain Zedric Sadler struggled with injuries throughout the season and never was fully healthy at any point of the year. The seniors, to their credit left everything out there, but it just proved to not be enough against the powerful Gaels offense.
Ryan Restivo covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.