By Matt Norlander
The game was played a 1 p.m. on a Thursday, well after the excitement from ESPN's 24-hour basketball marathon had worn off. There were, maybe, a thousand people in the Coliseo de Puerto Rico.
Still, Iona-Purdue was arguably the best televised game of basketball so far this season, which is now a week and a half old. The game was a first-round matchup in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, and the Boilermakers won 91-90 after Robbie Hummel (right) coolly hit a 3 coming off a roll on the right side of the floor. Hummel scored a game-high 24 points, grabbing nine boards in the process. It's probably an ego booster -- in a good way -- for Hummel, who missed the majority of the past two years with ACL injuries.
We've well-documented what Hummel's gone through. Will his senior year be a feel-good story? Who knows. If it is, this is a great start to that. (And how great does Goodman feel to have his Hummel avatar on Twitter now?)
He looked very, very good today. Without Hummel, who knows what Purdue is.
What it's not right now: defensive-minded. The Gaels (who also didn't engage when playing on their heels) went where they pleased against a team that's been ranked 16th or better in points-per-possession defense the past five years.
Iona's MoMo Jones, who scored a team-high 17 points and took over at point guard after Scott Machado fouled out with three minutes to go, showed flashes of his bad self, as it was his turnover after Hummel's 3 that prevented Iona from getting its best shot to snag the upset. He also hit a couple of big shots before that, but Jones' M.O. is being feast or famine. Arizona fans know this all too well.
For Iona, it's a win that got away. Could end up being a critical one, too. This team has NCAA tournament talent, and if that's true, then it's got at-large-quality talent. But the Gaels lack a lot of chances on their schedule to get impressive wins. The more they lose in the next month, the less they can afford to lose any games in the MAAC, which will have Fairfield chasing them step for step.