By JOSH VERLIN
Special to ZAGSBLOG
PHILADELPHIA – As first impressions go, David Laury made a pretty darn good one for Iona on Thursday night in a road game at La Salle.
On his very first touch, the 6-foot-8, 238-pound sophomore grabbed a rebound, went coast-to-coast and finished on the other end, drawing the foul and completing the 3-point play. In a nine-minute first-half run, he would pour in nine points and grab eight rebounds; by the end of the night he had a team-high 21 points (8-13 FG, 5-6 FT) as well as a game-high 14 rebounds in 26 minutes.
“Were we expecting it? No. Did I think he had it in him? Yes,” Iona coach Tim Cluess told SNY.tv after the game. “I thought he had a very nice first game out there. Obviously, there’s a lot of things he has to learn to fit within our team, but individually he did a really good job and we expect big things out of him as we go forward.”
What made it even more unexpected was that Laury had only practiced with the team once prior to the game, instead of the full season that many transfer players get to adjust to their new teammates and coaches.
“Our unit now has got to find some new cohesiveness because it’s a new body being added after only one day, and that throws you out of sync on both ends a little bit, but I do expect big things and I thought he did very well for the first time on the floor in quite some time,” Cluess said.
The Gaels could certainly use some help in the frontcourt. 6-7 senior Taaj Ridley is averaging 6.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in 22.6 minutes while 6-9 junior Shawn Jackson is averaging just 2.0 points and 3.1 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game. According to KenPom.com, Iona is one of the 20 shortest teams in the country, and in addition to adding a 6-8 body they get one who showed off a nice handle and a great spin move in the lane.
“I think my skill set is unique, I can cause matchup problems,” Laury said. “I’ve been playing point guard in prep school and stuff like that, so I’m used to it, just gotta get in shape.”
“I think just his toughness, his rebounding, his offensive ability, his passing ability,” Cluess said about what it is that makes Laury an effective player. “I think he’s got a good head for the game. Obviously he needs to get into shape and he needs to learn what we do, so he’s got a lot of work ahead of him, but I expect him to be one heck of a player as he moves forward.”
One of the things Laury and his coach agreed on was that he didn’t do enough work to get ready on his own from a conditioning standpoint, but now that he’s practicing with the team, Laury doesn’t expect that to be a problem. He said he currently weighs 238 but doesn’t see much of a problem getting his body to where he wants it.
“I only had one day to practice, so I’m sure within the next two weeks I’ll be 230,” he said. “But I don’t want to get lower than 230, 235 because I like to post up and be physical.”
It was a long-awaited debut for the sophomore from West Orange (N.J.), who originally committed to Iona back in 2009 — after signing an NLI to attend Western Kentucky — before winding up in the JUCO ranks at Lamar State (TX). Aftering averaging 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds in his freshman season at the junior college, he committed to Iona last October and sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules.
“I felt like out of everybody, they were the most genuine about what kind of coaches they are, how they run their offense, where I would play in the offense, and what kind of team they’re trying to build and the tradition they already have going,” Laury told SNY.tv. “Coach Cluess is a run-and-gun coach, he wants you to be in shape, he wants you to be mentally tough, so I like that.”