Denver(0-0) at Iona (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 9, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hynes Athletic Center (2,611) -- New Rochelle, New York. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Denver 0-0, Iona 0-0. Away Record: Denver 0-0, Iona 0-0. Neutral Record: Denver 0-0, Iona 0-0. Conference Record: Denver 0-0, Iona 0-0 . Series Record: Iona leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Denver hits to road to open up the 2012-13 season, when the Pioneers invade New Rochelle to face the Iona Gaels.
Denver is coming of a season in which the team posted 22 Division I wins, a school-record. With seven players returning, including four of the top five scorers from a year ago, this season could raise the bar even higher.
Iona is also coming off a strong campaign, going 25-8 and making an NCAA Tournament appearance. Coach Tim Cluess, in his third year with the Gaels, looks to build on last year's success, but with the loss of some key personnel, it won't come easy.
These teams met last year for the first time in history. Iona won the game 80-78 in overtime at the buzzer.
The Pioneers, who took second in the Sun Belt Conference a year ago, look to begin another strong season with a roster full of talent. Sophomore forward Chris Udofia was voted a member of the preseason All-SBC First-Team after being voted the SBC Defensive Player of the Year last year as well as being part of the All-SBC First-Team. Last year, Udofia was fourth in scoring in the Sun Belt Conference at 14.5 points per game. He also led the team in assists (2.6 per game), blocked shots (2.3 per game), and field goal percentage (.534). He is joined by sophomore forward Royce O'Neale (team-high 5.8 rpg), senior guard Chase Hallam (2010-11 All-SBC Second Team selection) and sophomore guard Brett Olson (second in three-point percentage in the SBC at .456). With a great nucleus, Denver has a chance at another strong season.
The Gaels and Cluess will have to make up for the talent lost. The Gaels, who led the nation in scoring last year at 82.9 ppg, were also third in field goal percentage, shooting an outstanding .502 from the field. Losing Mike Glover (18.3 ppg. 9.0 rpg) and Scott Machado (13.6 ppg, 327 assists) will definitely put a damper on those numbers. There are two players that will carry the load this year and both are qualified to do so. Senior Lamont Jones (15.7 ppg) and junior Sean Armand (9.5 ppg) were both voted to the Preseason All-MAAC Team and are the two top returning scorers for Iona.
Denver will be sending a whole lot of talent out on the court Friday and Iona will have a difficult time matching it. Denver should even the series, with a big road win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Denver 79, Iona 65
11/09 10:36:31 ET