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Pregame Prep: What Canisius must do to upset Iona


Canisius faces Iona at 9:30 p.m. Friday in Albany in the quarterfinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament in Albany.

What Canisius Must Do To Win:
1. Score. Iona ranks first in the MAAC in scoring, field-goal percentage, three-pointers and threes attempted. Canisius ranks 10th out of 11 in three-point defense (and it's 315th of 346 in the nation in three-point D). Two words: Bad matchup.

So Canisius has to score. The good news: The Griffs are a good offensive team. In the second meeting with Iona last week, the Griffs led at the half (40-35) and lost close (86-78). Kassius Robertson had 24. Canisius must shoot well from the perimeter. Griff forward Phil Valenti is a tough matchup for anybody. He's playing great. He had 33 against Niagara Thursday night. Maybe he can get some Iona forwards in foul trouble.

2. Stop one of Iona's three perimeter threats. Iona guard A.J. English, the MAAC's best player, averages 22.3 points and has made 79 threes. Wing Deyshonee Much, the transfer from UB, averages 13.7 and has made 73 threes. Forward Isaiah Williams, who's 6-7, averages 12.3 and has made 73 threes. It's very hard to double-team one player on the perimeter because Iona spreads teams out so well. In the second meeting, the Griffs shut Williams down. That helped. In the first meeting, Much scored 30.

Said Jim Baron after the first meeting: "They can really shoot the ball. . . . Even Isaiah Williams, he didn’t play real well, but he has the ability to really open up the floor. So when you got two guys like that you really can’t help out much, and that’s where English picks you apart. They’re long and they’re athletic and they force you to move. You’ve got to relocate on the perimeter."

3. Avoid turnovers and get back in transition. Canisius ranks first in the MAAC in avoiding turnovers (10.7 a game). But turnovers are death because Iona flies down the court so fast.

Said Griff Malcolm McMillan after the first meeting: "You can’t really simulate the speed the play at. You don’t really realize it till you’re actually on the floor with them. It’s hard to beat a team that can stretch the floor and shoot it it one through four, deep NBA range. Much - three of the six threes he made was probably beyond NBA range."

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