Around the Rim: Iona at Nevada Preview

In the second of three consecutive home games Nevada (4-7) hosts Iona (5-4) on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Nevada has lost two in a row and five-of-six. The Gaels have lost a season-high two in a row. The game is a return trip from the 2012 Bracketbusters game when the Pack lost 90-84 on Feb. 18, 2012 in New Rochelle, N.Y. We take a look at the key players to watch.

A.J. West 6-9 Junior Forward
In the previous Around the Rims, we focused only on opposing players. But today we change it up for a special occasion. The return of AJ West. West, a transfer from Monroe College, will make his Nevada debut against Iona after sitting out the first 11 games due to some eligibility issues with the NCAA. For the Pack, the return of the shot blocking and rebounding forward is much needed. Nevada has been able to score with teams this year, but their defense has been subpar. West will immediately give coach David Carter a big man that can make opponents consider taking the ball to the rack. It is important to note, that even though West did average 5.1 blocks at Monroe College last year, that level is nothing compared to the D I level, so it could take a few games to adjust. Stamina could also be an issue for West against Iona, seeing his first game action this year. Look for West to play only a couple minutes at a time against the Gaels, but his presence alongside Lucas Strivins, Ali Fall or in smaller lineups with Cole Huff, should help the overall team defense and rebounding.

Sean Armand 6-5 Senior Guard
What does Iona do well? Score, shoot efficiently, and play unselfishly. Shooting guard Armand is the catalyst for all three of these traits. As a team the Gaels average 81.0 points per game, good for 41st in the country and Armand scores over one-fourth of those points with 22.8 points per game. Efficiency wise, Iona shoots the ball at 48% on the year, while Armand shoots a bit higher than that at 52.3% from the field and 43.7% from the three-point line. On top of all that Iona averages 17.1 assists per game, good for 14th in the country. Armand is second on the team with 3.8 assists a game. What do all these numbers mean? First Armand is a very good basketball play that Nevada will have to key in on. But if Nevada focuses too much on stopping Armand's scoring, he can also distribute and hit open teammates. Iona is a very good team, and even though Armand is their best player, the team still comes first. For Nevada to win they will have to play a team game and likely outscore the Gaels.

Prediction: Iona Gaels 88 Nevada Wolf Pack 79

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