New York Colleges: Iona

Iona's Machado inspired by Linsanity

May, 29, 2012
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Knicks' hobbled and inconsistent point guard situation that escalated midway through the season gave Jeremy Lin a window of opportunity -- and he took full advantage of it.

Now, with Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis out long term, Mike Bibby an unrestricted free agent, and Toney Douglas with no defined role, potential undrafted to second-round point guards are getting an opportunity to prove their worth during workouts in New York.

Queens-born Scott Machado, who stayed local for high school (St. Benedict's Prep) and college (Iona), realized that when he visited the Knicks last week. And Lin's example has provided further motivation for Machado, who believes he can make an impact next season -- whether it's with the Knicks or another team.

"[Lin] does inspire me," Machado said Thursday at the Knicks' training facility. "He went to what, two different teams before he landed here? And just the opportunity that he got. This league is full of opportunities, and once you get that opportunity to show your skills, you gotta take advantage."

Not only did Lin suit up for several NBA teams before the Knicks, but he went to a college (Harvard) not known for developing draft prospects. That label is also on Machado because he played at Iona. In addition, GMs and scouts are not as attracted to point guards of his smaller size (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) and his average athleticism (he has a vertical leap in the low 30 inches), especially when the prototypes have become Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. Both are 6-3 and nearly 200 pounds, can jump around 40 inches, and can score and pass in multiple ways.

But what Machado lacks in stature, he makes up for with his superior passing ability in the half court and transition. In fact, he led the nation this past season in assists per game (9.9). And he showed he can D up (1.6 steals per game) and improve his 3-point shot (32 percent as a junior to 40.4 percent as a senior), which rounds out his game.

Machado, who won the Haggerty Award as the New York area’s top college player, said he considers himself a top-three point guard in the 2012 class. When asked to envision what kind of floor general he would be in the league, he said, "Steve Nash, but that plays defense."

The Knicks outing marked Machado's fifth individual workout, following stops in Philadelphia, Boston, San Antonio and New Jersey. He will also be meeting with Washington and Golden State, and then he'll attend the main NBA draft combine in Chicago from June 7 to June 8.

Two other point guards the Knicks might have an interest in are Syracuse's Scoop Jardine and Xavier’s Tu Holloway, both of whom worked out for the team last week.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

MAAC Media Day: Notes and observations

October, 27, 2010

AP Photo/Tim Roskie
Derek Needham is the electrifying sophomore point guard on Fairfield, picked to win the MAAC.

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference held its basketball media day on Tuesday at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Times Square, previewing what is shaping up to be an exciting year in the MAAC Conference.

Multiple local teams should be in contention. St. Peter's was predicted to finish third in the conference's preseason coaches' poll, with Iona pegged to finish fourth.

Nearby Fairfield is the preseason favorite, with three-time defending champion Siena selected as the runner-up.

Fairfield coach Ed Cooley, a former Boston College assistant entering his fifth year at the helm, is very excited for the coming season -- especially after his team came excruciatingly close to making the NCAA Tournament last year, losing the MAAC championship game to Siena in overtime.

"This is my 17th year coaching, and I've never had a group in the summer carry over to the beginning of school and to now fall practice, consistently," Cooley said. "The work ethic and attitude has been 120 percent. I've never had a group with that type of carry-over as a coach. By far, the best I've had. So I don't know if that translates into wins, but it's a lot to talk about when you look at the character of our group."

Siena will be gunning for a fourth-straight MAAC championship -- but they'll be doing it with a new coach. Fran McCaffery, who led the Saints to the Big Dance the past three years, is now the head coach at Iowa. Mitch Buonaguro, McCaffery's top assistant and a former Fairfield head coach, takes over.

AP Photo/Rajah Bose
Ryan Rossiter -- Siena forward and preseason MAAC player of the year.

Buonaguro has a lot to live up to. It'll help that he'll have the MAAC's preseason player of the year, senior forward and Staten Island native Ryan Rossiter, on his side. Rossiter, 6-foot-9, averaged 13.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game last season. The rebounding mark made him No. 7 in the country.

St. Peter's season could largely depend on the health of Wesley Jenkins, the 6-foot-2 senior guard who was the team's leading scorer a season ago (13.8 ppg) and was voted first-team All-MAAC this year. Jenkins partially tore his ACL last month, but is still hoping to play this season.

"We'll know in two weeks," said coach John Dunne. "He's gonna go back [to the doctor] for a follow-up. And he's either gonna be good to go, where he should make it back by December, or they'll have to talk about surgery."

Iona, which went 12-6 in the conference and 21-10 overall last season, should be in contention this season as well after returning all five starters. The person who didn't return is coach Kevin Willard, who is now at Seton Hall. Instead, Tim Cluess will be manning the sideline for the Gaels -- getting his first Division I coaching opportunity after an incredibly successful career at the high school, junior college and Division II level, most recently at C.W. Post on Long Island. Cluess won 384 games and lost only 111 in his 20 seasons spent coaching at those levels (stat courtesy of Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook).

"Coaching is coaching, and I've been very fortunate to coach really high-level players in high school for many years and even at C.W. Post. So as far as the talent base of coaching, it's no different," Cluess said. "I think the coaches we will go against and the programs we will go against will be very, very tough."

After those top four schools, the rest of the MAAC preseason poll went as follows: 5) Rider; 6) Loyola; 7) Canisius; 8) Niagra; 9) Manhattan; 10) Marist. (Click here to find previews of all 10 MAAC teams.)

Manhattan is in a rebuilding year, after losing four of its five starters from a season ago -- including Rico Pickett, the MAAC's leading scorer last year, at 17.7 points per game. Fifth-year head coach Barry Rohrssen, the former Pitt assistant who was recruited by St. John's coach Steve Lavin to be his top assistant during the offseason, elected to remain in Riverdale and continue trying to get the Jaspers back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.

"We do have a lot of new guys. There's an excitement to that as well," Rohrssen said. "Competitively, sometimes you're more at an advantage when you have returning players. ... We're excited about the new players that we've brought in. It's a blank canvas for us right now, and we're looking to fill in the spots."

One more thing -- keep an eye on Fairfield guard Derek Needham (pictured above) and Iona guard Scott Machado -- both were named first-team All-MAAC, along with Rossiter, Jenkins and Siena guard Clarence Jackson.

It should be a very competitive season in the MAAC, a below-the-radar conference that's well worth paying attention to. In fact, the MAAC was actually ranked 15th in conference RPI a year ago, and 14th the year before that, out of 32 total conferences -- not too shabby. And six of its 10 schools are within a two-hour drive of New York City -- five of them closer than 90 minutes away.

It's not the big time, but it's quality college basketball.