Weiss’s arrival could help Iona regain 3-point dominance

Parker Weiss goes through a personal workout at Community School of Naples on Aug. 22 — two days before heading up to New York's Iona College. GREGG HARDY/CSI

BY GREGG HARDY
CSI EDITOR

Parker Weiss may be in the right place at the right time.

During the first half of this decade, Iona College boasted one of the most prolific and uptempo offenses in NCAA Division I men’s basketball. (Actually, the Gaels had THE best offense during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, averaging 82.9 and 80.4 points per game, respectively. And in the two subsequent seasons, they finished fourth and fifth in the country, respectively.)

The 3-point shot, in particular, has been a huge part of Iona’s offense under head coach Tim Cluess, who owns a .648 winning percentage in his nine seasons on the job. The Gaels were No. 1 (out of 351 Division I teams) in 3-pointers made during the 2014-15 season (knocking down 344 of them). And in the two seasons after that, they finished tied for ninth and tied for 13th, respectively, averaging nearly 10 treys per game.

Last season, however, Iona saw a significant drop in 3-point proficiency and overall scoring — its nine 3s per game ranked 51st while its 76.6 point-per-game average ranked 71st.

This much we know: Parker Weiss knows how to score, particularly from long range.

Parker Weiss puts up a 3-pointer during CSN’s 2018-19 season-opening win at Naples High School. CSI FILE PHOTO

A 6-foot-2, 175-pound shooting guard, Weiss averaged 20 points per game — converting on 40 percent of his 3-point tries — during his senior season at Community School of Naples. He holds the CSN single-game record for 3s made in a game (nine), and, giving credit to Seahawks coach Greg Donahue, thinks his game is perfectly suited for the Gaels.

“They’re very high tempo, fast-paced,” Weiss said during an Aug. 22 workout inside the CSN gym — two days before he left for Iona (located in New Rochelle, New York, roughly a 40-minute train ride to Times Square in Manhattan). “That’s kind of how CSN plays really. We like to go up and down, shoot 3-pointers, just get the shot up, get back on defense — just always running up and down, and that’s how (Iona plays).

“Coach Donahue really set me up for a good transition to college, I think.”

Owner of a league-record 12 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference titles, Iona has been no stranger to the NCAA tournament under Cluess. The Gaels have reached the Big Dance in each of the last four years, and in 2012 they earned an at-large bid — no easy task for a mid-major program.

So what happens if, during one mid-March game over the next four years, Weiss finds himself with the ball and Iona trailing by two or three points as the final seconds tick off the clock (and a few million television viewers keep one eye on the game and another eye on their bracket)?

Simple.

“Every basketball player, their mindset should be … they should want to take the last shot,” Weiss said. “If you don’t have that mindset, then it’s not the right sport for you.”

HANGIN’ WITH COOPER

Also a former Community School football standout, Weiss said he already misses life on the gridiron.

This fall, or, presumably, at least until basketball practices rev up in October, Weiss will get his football fix by hopping on a train and making the 10-minute trip to the Bronx. There, he’ll watch another former CSN football star — his older brother Cooper, who, on Saturday, kicked off his junior season as a cornerback for Fordham University.

(Parker and Cooper are the sons of Col. Bart Weiss, Community School’s athletic director, who was a standout at Naples High School before playing quarterback for the Air Force Academy from 1983-85.)

“(Fordham) is basically my football school now,” Parker said, lamenting that Iona doesn’t have a football team of its own. (The Gaels suspended their football program in 2008.)

Though they may be busy with their respective sports, Parker said he’ll rely on Cooper to provide those all-important recommendations for “grub” and entertainment.

“Oh yeah, for sure, I’ll be texting him all the time,” Parker said.

THIS AND THAT

• Weiss will be back in the Sunshine State when Iona travels to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando for the MAAC-ASUN Challenge. The Gaels will play Stetson on Friday, Nov. 21 and Kennesaw State on Saturday, Nov. 22. “That’s going to be fun,” said Weiss, who wasn’t sure if he’ll be able to make it home for Thanksgiving six days after the Challenge. Weiss is also looking forward to Iona’s Dec. 4 date at Connecticut. “UConn’s a great school,” he said. “It’s going to be tough going there, but I think it’ll be fun. I think our guys can handle it.”

• The home-cooked meal that Weiss said he’ll most miss while at college? His dad’s penne pasta with chicken and sausage. He won’t starve, though. “For sure” a pizza guy, Weiss is well aware that he’s now living in the pizza mecca of the world. “There’s pizza joints everywhere — every block,” said Weiss, whose favorite Naples pizzeria is Napoli on the Bay (in the Marquesa Plaza on Livingston and Pine Ridge roads).

• Did you know? Before guiding North Carolina State to an improbable national title in 1983, the late Jim Valvano coached at Iona for five seasons from 1975 to 1980, going 95-46 over that time. Jimmy V led the Gaels to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearances in 1979 and 1980.

• Weiss’s take on the 2019-20 CSN boys basketball team, which went 22-6 and won the Class 5A-District 10 title last season: “I think they’re going to do great. A lot of guys are returning. We just lost three seniors, so a lot of the team will be there, and we got some great new guys (like) Lovenson (Xavier) and a couple other guys.”

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