With head coach Anthony Bozzella at the helm, the Iona College women's basketball program is in good hands.
In the midst of his eleventh season at Iona and 21st season as a college head coach, Bozzella has achieved a tremendous amount of success throughout his career. Over the past eleven years, Bozzella, a 1988 graduate of Seton Hall University, has brought Iona women's basketball to unprecedented heights, transforming the program from cellar dweller to championship contender.
When Coach Bozzella arrived at Iona in 2002, he inherited a program that had struggled through 20 consecutive losing seasons. During that stretch, accomplishments such as winning 20 games in a season or qualifying for the postseason were unheard of for this program.
Now, however, such achievements are regular occurrences. The Maroon & Gold have twice won at least 20 games and have reached the postseason WNIT in three of the past six seasons.
The Bozzella Era at Iona has featured numerous highlights so far. The numbers speak for themselves:
• 138-116 overall record over the past eight years (2006-2013)
• 88-56 MAAC record over the past seven years (2006-2013) - second best in the league
• Three 20-win seasons (2006-2007, 2007-2008 and 2012-13)
• Three berths in the MAAC championship game (2007, 2008 and 2013)
• Six semi-final berths in the MAAC tournament (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013)
• Ten postseason MAAC victories (2006-2013)
• Four postseason appearances (2007, 2008, 2010, 2013)
• Two victories in the WNIT (one in 2007 and one in 2008)
• Two MAAC Player of the Years (Martina Weber, 2007; Damika Martinez, 2013)
• Four MAAC Rookies of the Year (Toni Horvath, 2004; Kristina Ford, 2009; Damika Martinez, 2012; Joy Adams, 2013)
• 21 All-MAAC players (2006-2013)
• 64 MAAC All-Academic honorees (Most by any team)
• 100% graduation rate of all players he has recruited.
• 96% retention rate of all players he has recruited.
• A perfect 100 Academic Progress Rate (APR) in five of the last six seasons (2005-09 and 2011-12)
• A current team GPA of 3.25 on a 4.00 scale
After laying the groundwork for future success during his first three years in New Rochelle, with two strong recruiting classes, Bozzella piloted the Gaels to a breakthrough year in 2005-2006. It was then that the Maroon & Gold (17-12 overall, 13-5 MAAC) enjoyed their first winning season in 23 years. Furthermore, Iona finished tied for third place in the MAAC. In spite of being picked preseason number nine in the MAAC, the Lady Gaels earned a first-round bye for the conference tournament. The Gaels defeated Niagara in the quarterfinal round before suffering a 60-59 loss to eventual champion Marist in the semifinals. Bozzella was honored as the 2005-2006 MAAC Co-Coach of the Year.
In 2006-2007, Bozzella led the program to unchartered territory. Iona (21-13 overall, 13-5 MAAC) set a school record for the most wins as a Division I program. By virtue of their second-place finish in the MAAC standings, the Gaels earned another first-round bye. After emerging triumphant in the quarterfinals (vs. Saint Peter's) and semifinals (vs. Loyola), the Maroon & Gold advanced to the MAAC championship game for a showdown with Marist.
Though the Red Foxes prevailed in overtime, the Gaels qualified for the WNIT, thereby earning their first-ever postseason berth. Bozzella guided the Gaels past his former team – Long Island University – by a score of 91-79 in a first-round game on March 15 at the Hynes Athletics Center. Iona's historic season came to an end four days later with a three-point loss at Indiana.
Entering the 2007-2008 season, many outsiders expected the Gaels to have a rebuilding year. After all, the team had graduated five key players, including WNBA draft pick Martina Weber (the only MAAC player to be drafted into the WNBA). Despite finishing second in the MAAC the previous year, Iona was picked sixth in the 2007- 2008 MAAC preseason coaches' poll.
But Bozzella refused to let himself – or his team – buy into any such skepticism. And sure enough, the Maroon & Gold came out and had virtually as good a season as they had the previous year. For the second straight year, the Gaels (20-14 overall, 11-7 MAAC) reached the 20-win plateau; finished second in the MAAC; advanced to the MAAC title game; earned a postseason berth; and reached the second round of the WNIT.
The 2008-09 Gaels took a sixth place preseason ranking and ended the year tied for fourth in the conference, advancing to the MAAC semifinals for the fourth straight year. The young squad achieved all of its success with only one senior on the roster, while the freshman and sophomore classes produced five of the top seven players. Iona's 18 wins was the third highest total in the school's Division I history.
2009-10 saw the Maroon & Gold earn its third WNIT bid and a first around appearance against the University of Maryland. Iona earned an 18-14 overall record and finished secnod in the MAAC regular season, matching its program record with 13 league wins. After falling in the semifinal round, the Gaels accepted its automatic bid into the postseason.
In 2010-11, the Gaels finished in sixth place in the MAAC standings and earned its six straight bye into the quarterfinal round. Injuries to point guard Suzi Fregosi and significant time missed by 2010 All-Rookie performer Diana Hubbard stunted the team's develop, but Iona's 11 victories were still more than all but two seasons since Gaels' first season in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in 1981-82.
In 2011-12, a combination of veterans and newcomers helped the Gaels to a 13-18 record, and a victory in the MAAC tournament for the sixth time in seven seasons. As forward Kristina Ford missed crucial time with injury, the emergence of freshman Damika Martinez helped make up for the loss of Ford's offensive numbers. Martinez led the team averaging 16 pts per game, and became the first freshman in MAAC history to lead the league in scoring.
In 2012-13, with the loss of seven seniors, Bozzella guided one of the nation's youngest teams, and the conference's youngest starting lineup to a record of 20-12, including nine wins in a row, and an impressive 13-5 mark in the MAAC. The team finished second in the regular season and advanced to Bozzella's third career MAAC Championship game. Martinez once against led the MAAC in scoring, earning Iona's second ever MAAC Player of the Year honors while freshman forward Joy Adams earned the program's second consecutive Rookie of the Year award.
Prior to taking over the Iona program, Bozzella coached at Long Island University for two years. There too, he engineered a dramatic turnaround. After inheriting a program that had not posted a winning record in 21 seasons, Bozzella guided the Blackbirds to a 34-27 overall record during his two years in Brooklyn.
With Bozzella at the helm, LIU captured the 2001 Northeast Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, where the Blackbirds lost to the Final Four-bound Connecticut Huskies. For his work that season, Bozzella earned the New York State Division I Coach of the Year Award.
Bozzella's LIU program continued to thrive the following year. The Blackbirds posted an 18-12 overall record (13-5 Northeast Conference) and reached the conference championship game.
Bozzella began his college head coaching career in 1992 at Southampton College of Long Island University, a Division II program. Here too, he inherited a struggling program that never had a winning season, and turned it into a consistent winner. He guided Southampton to a 120-104 record over eight seasons, leading the team to the ECAC Postseason Tournament (div. 2 WNIT equivalent) six consecutive years. Following the 1994-1995 season, Bozzella was selected as the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
Bozzella is affiliated with the Women's Basketball Association and the New York State Basketball Coaches Association. A native of Glen Cove, N.Y., Bozzella was born on November 21, 1965. He graduated from Glen Cove High School and earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Seton Hall. Bozzella and his wife, Maria, of 20 years, live in Melville, N.Y. They have two children, Samantha, 16 and Joseph, 13.
|BOZZELLA THROUGH THE YEARS
||Long Island University
||Long Island University