An Era Continues
The Tim Cluess era for the Iona College men’s basketball program continued to prove historic during the 2017–18 campaign as the Maroon & Gold captured its third straight MAAC tournament championship with three straight wins in Albany in early March.
Iona joined La Salle University (1988–1990) and Siena College (2008–2010) as the only MAAC programs to capture back-to-back-to-back tournament titles in league history. The Gaels have competed in five of the last seven NCAA tournaments.
Iona’s record of success under eight-year head coach Tim Cluess is unprecedented in many other ways. The Gaels earned a ninth straight 20+ win season, a stretch that began the year prior to Cluess’ arrival. The mark is more than double the previous MAAC-high of four set initially by Iona from 1981–1985 and later matched by La Salle (1986–1990) and Siena (2006–2010). No other MAAC program has a current stretch of 20+ win seasons longer than one.
The Gaels postseason success stands prominently on the national scene. Only 21 NCAA Division I programs have competed in the last three NCAA tournaments and 37 have participated in five of the last seven. Among mid-major programs, Iona stands with Gonzaga, New Mexico State and South Dakota State as teams that can stake that claim.
For the third time in his 12-year tenure as an NCAA head coach — and the first time at Iona College — Cluess was awarded with the All-Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association Coach of the Year award. Cluess was the Division II Coach of the Year in 2008 and 2009 while leading C.W. Post. The Met Writers group represents the 21 NCAA Division I, 14 Division II, and 38 Division III basketball programs in the New York metropolitan area.
Since the 2010-2011 campaign, the Maroon & Gold has earned 182 total victories, an average of 22.8 per year. The win total and .664 winning percentage in the Cluess-era are highest among all NCAA Division I schools in the New York Metropolitan area. The Maroon & Gold has also appeared in more NCAA tournaments (5) and total postseason events (8) than any other team in the New York area.
Cluess’ tenure has also turned out some of the top student-athletes in program history. He has mentored 10 of the program’s 39 1,000-point scorers and coached 11 All-MAAC First Team performers along with six on the Second Team and one on the Third Team. Scott Machado ’12, Lamont Jones and David Laury ’15 have all been presented with the MAAC Player of the Year honor while Schadrac Casimir ’19 was named MAAC Rookie of the Year in 2015. Jones, A.J. English ’16, Jordan Washington ’17 and Zach Lewis ’19MA are the Gaels’ four MAAC Tournament Most Outstanding Performers. Machado and Jones earned the prestigious Haggerty Award in 2012 and 2013 as the NY Metropolitan Area’s Player of the Year. Only four other Gaels in history have earned the honor: Warren Isaac ’65 in 1965, Jeff Ruland ’91 in 1980, Gary Springer ’89 in 1981, and Steve Burtt Sr. ’84 in 1984.
For his career efforts on the court and in the classroom at Iona College, Cluess signed a contract extension this April that will keep him in New Rochelle at least through the 2024–2025 season with the hopes of ensuring continued success of Iona College Athletics’ flagship program for the foreseeable future.