By Ronak Patel
NEW ROCHELLE, NY — It’s been well-documented — sophomore forward David Laury’s journey to Iona.
He’s gone through so much in life, more than men twice to triple his age have not had to deal with. He’s moved double-digit times in his life, lived with many different family members but one thing that has kept him going is basketball.
After transferring in and out of high schools (three to be exact), prep schools (two) and even colleges (three), Laury finally became eligible for the Gaels on Dec. 20 and played against LaSalle, notching 21 points and 14 rebounds against a possible NCAA Tournament team.
Laury, who enrolled at Iona in January 2012, waited patiently to play.
As the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament begins this weekend in Springfield, Mass., the All-MAAC Third Team performer comes in with averages of 13.0 points a game and grabbing 10.1 rebounds a game. Iona (17-13 overall, 11-7 MAAC) is the No. 4 seed and will take on No. 5 Canisius in the quarterfinals Saturday.
“It’s very exciting,” Laury said of finally being able to play. “You wait so long to be where you’re supposed to be already, I think it was a very humbling experience having to wait but it’s been amazing. The coaching staff and players have made it feel welcomed.”
Laury has started 19 of the 21 games he’s played and have had several moments of brilliance this year. Among them was an recent impressive performance against defending MAAC Tourney champion Loyola (MD). In his team’s 90-86 win, Laury scored 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting, grabbed four rebounds, dished out six assists (a career high) and blocked two shots.
“It’s about time,” Gaels senior guard and MAAC Player of the Year Lamont Jones said of Laury’s performance. “It’s about time is all I have to say.”
But Jones didn’t stop there, he continued, “He knows what I think of him and he knows I love him to death and he can play like that every night. If he comes out and plays like that every night, we will be a team to beat.”
Laury’s assimilation into a high-octane Gaels attack led by Jones (23.2 points) and guard Sean Armand (16.2 points) has been a work in progress. Laury has had some spectacular games — he reached 20 points in the first three games he played in and had a monster 24-point, 16-rebound performance at Niagara (93-90 overtime loss), the home of the MAAC regular season champs. He’s also had a few games where he’s struggled, such as a four point outing against a physical Rider team.
“I feel the last couple of games, it’s just like (Lamont Jones) said, ‘it’s about time’,” Laury said. “He’s completely right, not only him, but the players on the team know what I can do but I haven’t been as aggressive as I should’ve been.”
An aspect that is redeeming about Laury is he’s really humble but at times, by his own admission, that can make it difficult for him on the court.
Because he possesses so many talents, he can handle the ball great for a 6-foot-8 guy, play some point forward and has an outstanding passing eye, Laury is gauging on when to take over and be more aggressive in certain points in games.
“Even before (Loyola) game, coach (Tim Cluess) was reminding me of who I am,” Laury said. “Not in the sense I’m better than everybody, but my abilities of what I can do and have confidence in myself.
“I wouldn’t say I didn’t have confidence in myself, but I didn’t have enough confidence as needed.”
Laury played quite a bit of point forward in high school but he’s been playing down low for the Iona. In the physical MAAC, Laury is learning to be physical but yet still use his myriad of skill set to make a difference for the Gaels.
“I played a lot of point guard and on the perimeter in high school,” Laury said. “I’ve learned to embrace the post in college. It can open things up for you offensively and regardless of how tall you are, it’s a great asset to have.”
Laury continued, “I know my role on the team; I know (Jones) is one of the best, if not the best scorer in the country and Armand is one of the best shooters in the country. So it’s not just that I have to do my thing down low, but I have to understand I’m not the first option or even the second option, but there are nights where I’ll be the first or second option depending on the matchups.”
The one season he played at Lamar State-Port Arthur (TX) offered a lot for Laury, who was far away from his native New Jersey. He averaged 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds a game there.
“It was a great experience in terms of being away from home and getting to see a different culture,” Laury said. “As far as basketball wise, it helped because the competition was good out there.”
With the conference tournament set to begin and if you look at Iona’s losses in the MAAC, all seven losses have been by a combined 17 points and they’ve also lost three of them in overtime. Laury knows with the potential around him, Iona can be a dangerous out in the MAAC Tourney.
“I think the tournament can remind ourselves of how great we can potentially be,” Laury said. “The window is there for us to go up there and put forth a good effort and hopefully be there at the end.”