After a record setting blow-out against NIU and a near loss to a HPU, it's difficult to ascertain who this team really is.
While the answer is obviously somewhere down the middle, Purdue's participation in this years Puerto Rico Tip-Off will indicate which side of the continuum this team leans. They arrive in Puerto Rico an unknown quantity, but they will leave with an excellent assessment of how they handle both road games and against high-level competition.
Purdue will face immediate adversity against a tough Iona team. Much like High Point, they are up against an experienced and well coached program.The Gaels finished with a 25-11 record last season, 2nd in the MAAC (13-5), and runners up to Santa Clara in the CIT finals.
I'm not going to lie, Iona is terrifying on paper.
2010-11 Record: 15-12, 13-5 MAAC
TV: ESPNU; ESPN3 (Play-by-Play: Jon Sciambi and Hubert Davis or Doug Sherman and Doug Gottlieb)
Purdue All-Time Record Against the MAAC: 4-0
This post was initially meant to be a primer to the entire Puerto Rico Tip-Off, however, once I began researching Iona, I decided it would be more prudent to focus on one team at a time.
Iona returns three starter from last season in additional to Arizona standout transfer MoMo Jones. Michael Glover, Scott Machado, and Kyle Smyth are a three-headed monster that will give Purdue it's most rigorous test so far this season.
Glover (6'7/215 lbs) was one of the most dominant post players in the MAAC last season, averaging 18 pts and 10 rebs as a junior. Sandi Marcius and Travis Carroll will definitely have their hands full this afternoon despite their size advantage.
Scott Machado is one of best point guards in the nation, leading the MAAC with 7.6 APG last season. He is second in the nation in total assists but is also a very capable scorer (13 ppg last season). He's likely never played against pressure as aggressive as Lewis Jackson , but Lewjack is still battling injury and trying to get back into game shape.
No 3-headed monster is complete without the deadly three point shooter. Kyle Smyth is Iona's version of Ryne Smith. Smyth was third in the MAAC in three point field goals made last season, knocking down 75 threes. For reference, Ryne Smith made 56 threes last season...
It's difficult to project how MoMo Jones will fit in this mix, but he'll almost certainly give them even more depth. He averaged 9.7 points and 2.4 assists as a sophomore at Arizona
No to scare anyone more than I already have, but Iona is led by one of the best coaches you've never heard of. Tim Cluess boasts an overall coaching record of 145-45, and 25-12 in his first season leading the Gaels.
The Boilermakers: (2-0)
G - Lewis Jackson - 5'9"
G - Ryne Smith - 6'3"
F - Kelsey Barlow - 6'5"
F - Robbie Hummel - 6'8"
F - Travis Carroll - 6'9"
The Gaels: (0-0)
G - Lamont "MoMo" Jones - 6'0
G - Scott Machado - 6'1"
G - Kyle Smyth - 6'4"
F - Taaj Ridley - 6'7"
F - Michael Glover - 6'7"
So let's summarize what we've learned about Iona:
Veteren Leadership: Check
Good Coaching: Check
And I understand all of these stats are in context of competition from the MAAC, but this combination is pretty deadly no matter what league they are playing in. Hopefully, I am exaggerating, but we'll find out this afternoon.
Unfortunately I don't have the capacity to give a real in depth analysis on the rest of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, but here's a numbers-only glance of the competition:
Understandably, this graphic is not overly reveling this early in the season, but it does illustrate that the rest of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off will not be a cakewalk. Alabama (#16), Temple (#26), Wichita State, and Maryland are great programs that will likely earn NCAA tournament births.
If Purdue beats Iona, the competition just gets stiffer.
While Purdue still doesn't know a whole lot about themselves now, but they should know a helluva lot more about themselves on the long plane ride home.