It’s March, which mean’s it’s March Madness time, which means it’s bracket season, which means it’s time for everyone to lay claim to their favorite Cinderella.
This year Iona is a popular pick. And for good reason. The Gaels play fast, shoot a ton of 3s and are, generally, a ton of fun to watch. Iona also happens to be located about a mile away from my childhood home. I grew up watching the team, learned how to play at the college’s basketball camp. Yeah, the school might have bought out and demolished my favorite local diner. But, hey, no one’s perfect.
Anyway, I thought this would be a good time to do an unofficial ranking of the 10 best players to ever come through New Rochelle. And there have been some good ones over the years. The school, after all, has made the NCAA Tournament 11 times (though it’s never advanced to the round of 32) and has won the MAAC tournament nine times. So, without further ado, here are my top-10.
Jeff Ruland: Kind of a no-brainer. A two-time NBA All-Star and the school’s fifth all-time leading scorer. The 1980 team led by him and coached by Jim Valvano is probably the school’s greatest ever.
Richie Guerin: Just 22nd on the school’s all-time scoring list. But he was a six-time NBA All-Star.
Steve Burtt, Sr.: The school’s all-time leading scorer and averaged 24.2 points per game as a senior.
AJ English: Now we get to the dude’s I’ve actually seen play. English, the star of the current team, is one of the best scorers in the country but is a really good passer, too. He has a shot at making the NBA.
Scott Machado: I really thought this guy was going to make the NBA. He’s the best point guard to ever come through Iona. He couldn’t shoot but was a great point guard/team leader. He played with two other guys on this list, and Arizona tranfer MoMo Jones. That was the best Iona team I’ve ever seen.
Steve Burtt, Jr.: Until English came along this guy was the best scorer I’d seen in a Gaels uniform. Dude averaged 25.2 points per game as a senior.
Tariq Kirksay: Wasn’t as explosive as Burtt, but did end up having a nice career oversees.
Sean Armand: The team’s all-time leader in three-pointers made. Could also put the ball on the floor a bit and was part of that Machado team that, I believe, led the nation in scoring.
David Laury: Had a nice career and is now in the D-League, according to Wikipedia. Mike Glover: The rare talented big man to come through the MAAC.