NCAA Tournament Preview, BYU v Iona: Iona's Style & Other Observations

It's probably no secret by now that Iona leads the country in points per game and has the nation's top assist man in Scott Machado. In preparation for tomorrow's game, I watched the entirety of Iona's 90-84 BracketBusters win over Nevada in mid-February to get a better look at both what style of play the Gaels use, and how effective they are both employing and beating different defenses. I charted every shot, and made some stat-free observations as well. Here's what I came up with:

IONA'S OFFENSE

vs. MAN

vs. ZONE

BREAK

# POSS

49

8

13

FG%

62.9%

55.6%

63.6%

3FG%

37.5%

50.0%

75.0%

FTA

18

0

4

TO

12

2

1

Nevada didn't throw a lot of zone at Iona, and I wasn't sure why. Machado and MoMo Jones were too much even for Nevada's athletic guards to handle. While the zone didn't stop Iona, it did at least slow it down from its torrid pace. I noticed especially that Iona struggled when Nevada switched to a zone unexpectedly. By my count, Iona was 1-5 from the field on the possession immediately after Nevada switched to a zone, and the one make came after Iona called a timeout the very first time Nevada showed zone (so perhaps it shouldn't count in that 1-5 mark).

I would hope to see BYU change up the defensive look more than just occasionally to slow Iona down.


Related: Know The Foe, Iona edition

NEVADA'S OFFENSE VS IONA

vs. MAN

vs. ZONE

BREAK

# POSS

51

15

9

FG%

43.6%

64.3%

30.0%

3FG%

27.3%

66.7%

16.7%

FTA

21

5

0

TO

14

1

0

Iona used a TON of man-to-man, full-court pressure against Nevada. When the Gaels went zone, it wasn't very effective. (In an interview with an expert coming tomorrow, he said Iona resorted to a lot of zone in conference play. So it isn't out of the question for Iona to play lots of it depending on the game plan.) In fact, the last time Iona showed a zone was early in the second half, and Nevada got three-straight looks at the rim on three-straight possessions. Iona also fouled the shooter all three times -- and never played zone the rest of the game.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS
  • MoMo Jones could be a handful for whoever draws him. If Winder has to gaurd Machado, Carlino v Jones could be difference-maker. BYU has had problems with strong guard combos (Pangos/Bell, Dellavedova/Holt).
  • Iona showed a LOT of man full-court pressure. In the half-court, Iona will also extend Machado and Jones well past the three-point line when in man.
  • Definite tendency: When Iona goes zone, it gives up O rebounds and easier shots
  • Iona was not afraid to run a trap at someone off screens, even if in man defense.
  • Nevada played straight man for first 9 minutes, then threw a zone trap at Iona and Iona immediately had to call timeout.
  • Noticed when Iona is in man, Machado often roams defensively, looking for steals in passing lanes or by harassing players trying to post up. BYU guards knocking down open looks could make him pay.
  • Sometimes Machado is a little too eager to make a difference. In a one-minute stretch to close the first half, he was called for a technical foul on a full-court press because he touched the ball while the Nevada inbounder still had hold of it. A few plays later, he was whistled for a lane violation on Nevada free throws.
  • End of the 1st half, Iona got real aggressive with the pressure, looking for steals instead of just pressure. Caused three-straight turnovers, got fast break buckets ... then got another turnover on a five second call.
  • Iona's press caused Nevada some problems, but the Pack did get open looks from it on occasion. That's the nature of full-court, man pressure.
  • Mike Glover can do some damage down low if he gets good initial post position.
  • As mentioned, Iona didn't really struggle overall against the zone (they are just really good offensively), but it did slow them down a bit and they *did* struggle if Nevada switched to it suddenly. It was surprising Nevada didn't switch up more against the high-powered offense when it seemed to work.
  • When Nevada stretched the D out late in the game trying to get urgent stops, Machado got to the rim pretty easily.

Those were my take-aways from watching Iona in action. As I mentioned, stay-tuned tomorrow for a Q&A with John of NYCbuckets for more on Iona.

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