Liberty has two games within 24 hours this weekend as part of the ASUN/MAAC Challenge in Orlando, Florida this weekend. So, rather than having two separate game previews with game recaps sandwiched in between, we have one game preview for the two games this weekend, beginning with Friday’s game against Iona.

“We’ve got another great test against a really good Iona team that is really physical, really athletic, and coached by one of the all-time greats,” Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay said following his team’s loss to LSU Monday night. “Then, (we) turn around and play Manhattan who is really good too. So, we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

Liberty (1-1) vs. Iona (3-0)
Orlando, Florida – HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Friday, Nov. 18, 5:00 p.m. ET

Last Meeting: Liberty lost, 87-69, on Dec. 18, 2013
Series History: Iona leads 3-0

Projected LU Starters:

0 Drake Dobbs (So., 6-1, 180) – 3.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.5 apg
2 Darius McGhee (Sr., 5-9, 150) – 21.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.5 apg
22 Kyle Rode (Jr., 6-7, 220) – 3.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.5 apg
32 Blake Preston (R-Jr., 6-9, 220) – 7.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.5 apg
33 Shiloh Robinson (Jr., 6-7, 195) – 4.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.0 apg

Projected Iona Starters:

2 Elijah Joiner (Gr., 6-3, 205) – 9.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.3 apg
25 Tyson Jolly (Gr., 6-4, 205) – 18.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.0 apg
0 Berrick JeanLouis (Sr., 6-4, 200) – 3.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.0 apg
23 Nelly Junior Joseph (So., 6-9, 240) – 17.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.0 apg
11 Quinn Slazinski (Jr., 6-9, 215) – 8.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 apg


This is the marquee game of the ASUN/MAAC Challenge this weekend in Orlando as the three-time defending ASUN champion Liberty Flames take on the defending MAAC champion Iona Gaels. Iona has won five out of the past six MAAC Tournament Championships, including four straight by former coach Tim Cluess.

Former Kentucky and Louisville head coach Rick Pitino is currently in his second season at Iona. He led the team to the MAAC Championship in his first year where they advanced to the NCAA Tournament as a 15-seed before falling to 2-seed Alabama, 68-55.

Three starters are gone off that team, including the team’s top two scorers, but Coach Pitino is bring in plenty of talent to help fill those holes and keep Iona at the top of the MAAC. Nelly Junior Joseph is the top returning scorer from last year’s team when he averaged 11.1 points per game and led the team with 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks each contest.

So far this season, Iona is 3-0 with wins over Appalachian State, 65-53, Harvard, 90-87 in overtime, and Hofstra, 82-74. All three games have come on their home floor in New Rochelle, New York. Iona will face North Alabama on Saturday before facing Alabama on Thanksgiving Day in a rematch of last year’s first round NCAA Tournament game.


Liberty 70, Iona 65

Liberty (1-1) vs. Manhattan (2-1)
Orlando, Florida – HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Saturday, Nov. 20, 6:00 p.m. ET

Last Meeting: N/A
Series History: First meeting

Projected Manhattan Starters:

3 Ant Nelson (Sr., 6-4, 180) – 5.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.0 apg
30 Elijah Buchanan (Sr., 6-5, 190) – 11.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.0 apg
15 Jose Perez (Sr., 6-5, 220) – 8.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 8.3 apg
0 Warren Williams (Sr., 6-9, 240) – 11.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 0.0 apg
23 Josh Roberts (Sr., 6-9, 220) – 9.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.3 apg


Manhattan is one of the more storied programs in the MAAC. Under 11th year head coach Steve Masiello, the Jaspers have advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice, doing so in 2014 and 2015. Manhattan was picked to finish 7th in the 11-team MAAC in the preseason poll while Warren Williams was named second-team and Ant Nelson third-team in the preseason honors for the conference.

Williams was one of the best big men in the MAAC last season, averaging 11.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while shooting 56.8% from the floor as he was named third-team all-conference. Nelson was named third-team all-conference last season and led the team ins coring at 13.4 points per game.

Masiello returns almost his entire roster from last years team and adds two transfers in Josh Roberts and Jose Perez. Roberts averaged 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game last year at St. John’s while Perez comes in after one season at Marquette where he averaged 3.1 points per game. Prior to his time at Marquette, Perez excelled in the Big South at Gardner-Webb. He averaged 15.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game as a freshman and during the 2019-20 campaign he averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game.

So far this season, Manhattan is 2-1 with wins at home over Manhattanville (99-42) and Fordham (66-60), before falling at Old Dominion, 79-58 on Monday night. The Jaspers will face North Alabama on Friday before facing the Flames.


Liberty 69, Manhattan 59