NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Iona College is going dancing again! The school from New Rochelle is heading to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row — and they accomplished the feat in thrilling fashion.
The team returned to campus Tuesday, fresh off their big win over Siena in enemy territory Monday. The MAAC Conference Championship took place in Albany, amounting to an unofficial home game for the Saints. This made Tuesday’s homecoming that much sweeter.
“The students were happy that we came back here,” player Jordan Washington told CBS2’s Otis Livingston. “They were saying they want me to take them to the championship so that’s what I did.”
“The feeling is crazy,” teammate E.J. Crawford said. “I can’t even describe it, it’s great.”
“Who doesn’t want to be a champion?” player Sam Cassell Jr. said. “Nobody will ever forget a champion.”
This Gaels team has been there before, so they won’t be satisfied with just an invite to the tournament. They want to make this party last a while and make a run.
Speaking of experience, head coach Tim Cluess has led an Iona team to the NCAA tournament in four of his seven years in New Rochelle.
“I give all the credit to my players and how tough they are and just how really they have each other’s back the whole time on the court, off the court,” Cluess said. “They had a goal in mind and they wanted to keep the tradition that’s been built at Iona College going. Hopefully now that can continue to grow.”
The small Westchester County campus is used to seeing their Gaels play on the nation’s biggest stage — but it never gets old. There’s nothing like rooting on your school when the entire country is watching.
“It’s awesome,” student Jack Monaghan tells CBS2. “My dad went to Iona, so it’s going to be really awesome being home, being able to watch the game with him, and just enjoy it and see my team on the national stage.”
“I’m very excited about it,” student Mackenzie Parascondola says. “I have a lot of friends that go to big schools so it’s nice to see like, the, it’s like a big fish in a little pond kind of story. And I’m very excited to say yes, we’re a small school, a tiny little place. But honestly, we’re just as capable as you guys and we’re excited for the competition to come.”
The Gaels know they’ll be dancing, they just don’t know who their partner will be or where the dance hall is. So the team and their fans wait. The 90 minute selection show will air this Sunday night at 5:30 on CBS2.