Men's basketball: Iona-Hofstra embark on new series with mascot Rock Paper Scissors
A game of Rock Paper Scissors between mascots seemed like a fun idea to decide the host of the first leg of a three-year series between Iona and Hofstra. But Killian the Gael was swept in the best-of-three game on Zoom, meaning his Gaels will travel to Hofstra when the teams meet this Dec. 23.
They'll also play again during the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons as part of a three-year contract announced Monday.
New Iona coach Rick Pitino joked that his team would soon be searching for a new mascot after Killian's "Rock" was defeated twice by Willie the Lion's "Paper." In truth, he was just glad to lock in non-conference games with the reigning CAA champs during COVID-19.
"It's invaluable," Pitino said. "Hofstra has had great success, not only this year but in the past. They have great tradition."
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on mid-major scheduling this season, but Pitino is optimistic about future years.
He noted that the Gaels have continued to build a strong non-conference schedule beyond 2020-21. He mentioned a future home-and-home series with BYU that would include a game at Madison Square Garden; playing at Disney World in a field that includes Kansas and Alabama; and competing in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
"We're trying to really upgrade our schedule and having Hofstra on it boosts us in trying to accomplish that feat," Pitino said.
This year, Iona's non-conference schedule will open at Fordham on Nov. 25, then feature three games at Mohegan Sun from Nov. 30-Dec. 2, including one each against Buffalo and Vermont. The Gaels will then host Wagner on Dec. 5 prior, then travel to Hofstra after two weeks of league play.
Hofstra active head coach Mike Farrelly said the Rock Paper Scissors was the brainchild of Iona sports information director Brian Beyrer and his Hofstra counterpart, Stephen Gorchov.
"I get zero credit for this," he said. "I'll let Stephen and Brian chime in because I think they were the masterminds on this. And I'm glad they did it because it worked out for us."
Josh Thomson is the Local Sports Editor for The Journal News and Poughkeepsie Journal. He can be reached by email at email@example.com, on Twitter at @lohudinsider, and on Instagram at @lohudinsider.