Previewing Iona

After a tough first outing, the No. 1-ranked Tar Heels return to Chapel Hill for what should be an easier home-opener Sunday against Iona. Tip-off at the Smith Center is set for 6 p.m. and will be televised by ESPNU.

North Carolina (1-0) vs. Iona (0-2)
Chapel Hill, N.C. - Smith Center
6 p.m., ESPNU


Pitino Student: Former Louisville assistant Kevin Willard has taken over at Iona for the embattled Jeff Ruland. Willard skipped his final year of eligibility at Pittsburgh to work for Rick Pitino as a scout with the Boston Celtics, before following his boss to Louisville. Ten years under the current Cardinals coach helped form Willard's philosophy, as the Gaels will play an up-tempo style reliant upon solid three-point shooting and aggressive defensive play. Ruland is now coaching the Albuquerque Thunderbirds of the NBA Development League.

Back in the Saddle: While last season's Iona squad struggled to a 2-28 record, the Gaels were forced to play much of the season without arguably their top-three players -- Gary Springer (injury), Kyle Camper (injury) and Dexter Gray (academics).

Offensive Misery: Iona ranked 318th out of 325 programs last season in scoring offense with 58.6 points per game. Several categories played significant roles in that statistic – three-point field goals (3.7 made per game – 325th), free throw shooting (57.7 percent – 325th) and assists (10.3 per game – 313th).

Season to Date: Iona enters Sunday's game 0-2, having opened the season with road losses to Robert Morris and Princeton -- thanks, in part, to committing an average of 19 turnovers per game. The Gaels' top two performers have been Dexter Gray, a strong and athletic forward who transferred in from St. John's, and Milan Prodanovic, a lefty guard who has been their top outside shooter thus far this year.

Icy Hot: Iona connected on 10-of-19 three-point shots in their season opening loss 72-66 loss to Robert Morris, before making only 1-of-10 attempts outside the arc against Princeton.

Last Meeting: Iona upset North Carolina 65-56 in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Dec. 27, 2002. Early in the second half of the game, freshman Sean May broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot and missed most of the remainder of the season.

Series History: Carolina leads the all-time series with Iona, 2-1. UNC beat the Gaels 74-61 in the first round of the Holiday Festival in Madison Square Garden on Dec. 27, 1983, and then won the next meeting 110-67 at Carmichael Auditorium in Chapel Hill on Nov. 26, 1985.

Location: New Rochelle, N.Y.
Enrollment: 3,100
Conference: Metro Atlantic
Nickname: Gaels
Colors: Maroon & Gold
Head Coach: Kevin Willard
Record at IC: 0-2
Last Year: 2-28 

Projected Starters:
 3 De'Shaune Griffin (6-0, 160, So.) – 7.5 ppg, 2.0 apg
11 Milan Prodanovic (6-2, 180, So.) – 14.5 ppg, 3.0 apg
 5 Rashon Dwight (6-3, 185, Fr.) - 6.0 ppg, 4.0 apg
10 Kyle Camper (6-3, 190, Sr.) – 7.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg
24 Dexter Gray (6-7, 215, Sr.) - 16.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg

Key Reserves:
 4 Gary Springer (6-9, 230, Jr.) – 4.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg
23 Devon Clarke (6-6, 205, Jr.) – 3.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg
00 John Kelly (7-0, 270, Sr.) – 3.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg

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