1.) The Dutchmen end their non-conference schedule by facing the best player they will see all year. Iona forward Mike Glover—a Seton Hall transfer who was pursued by Tim Welsh during his aborted stint as head coach—is an absolute beast who should lift Iona to the NCAA Tournament. Glover ranks in the top 20 nationally in both points (21.7) and rebounds (10.4). He’s the type of guy for whom it is almost acceptable to say “You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him.” Almost. Because that’s a terrible cliché. Anyway, the best way to beat Iona might be to let Glover go nuts and try to shut everyone else down. Expect the Dutchmen to throw all their big men at Glover and for everyone to get in on the action as Mo Cassara tries to ration the 25 fouls he has at his disposal with Greg Washington, David Imes, Stephen Nwaukoni, Paul Bilbo and Roland Brown.
2.) Of course, saying the Dutchmen should shut everyone else down is far easier said than done. Iona is the best team the Dutchmen have faced since North Carolina. The Gaels have four players who are averaging at least 10 points per game and their point guard, Scott Machado, leads the nation in assists (8.1 per game). Iona averages 79.9 points per game and has scored lower than 70 just once. The Dutchmen, of course, have held nine of 11 opponents below 63 points, so something’s got to give. One place that might determine the game: The perimeter. Iona shoots just 34.4 percent from 3-point land, and limiting the damage the Gaels do beyond the arc will go a long way towards improving the Dutchmen’s chances.
3.) In Guards We Trust. Iona is giving up an average of 74.1 points per game. Washington and Imes are probably going to have a tough time getting going against Glover, so this is going to be a night in which the Dutchmen need Mike Moore, Brad Kelleher and Shemiye McLendon to continue complementing Charles Jenkins’ outside shooting.
4.) Exams are over but the tests are just beginning. The Dutchmen have had a mostly unimposing schedule since returning from Puerto Rico, which is fine given all the new pieces that needed time to gel. The Dutchmen have won a lot (7-1 since Puerto Rico), gained some confidence and defined their rotation. But now we find out just how good the Dutchmen are and how good they can be as they prepare for a monstrous seven-day stretch in which they will face Iona as well as surprising Drexel and perennial power George Mason in their first two real CAA games. The Dutchmen don’t have to win tonight, but a good showing on the road against a big-time foe is necessary.
5.) Mo Cassara won’t lack for motivational material tonight. We’re not much for gambling here at DD (except for fantasy football whoo whoo!), but a little birdie tells us the Dutchmen are 10 ½ point underdogs at Iona. That seems more than a bit high, even if Iona is outscoring the Dutchmen by an average of 10.7 points per game. Expect Cassara to have the Dutchmen lathered up into an us against the world frenzy by 7:30.