Iona Gaels' Rick Pitino voted MAAC coach of the year

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Rick Pitino, the Hall of Famer who led Iona to the regular-season Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title, was honored as the coach of the year Wednesday.

In his second season with the program, the 69-year-old Pitino guided the Gaels to a 25-6 overall mark and a 17-3 record in the MAAC to secure the top seed in the conference tournament underway in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He was selected in a vote by the league's head coaches.

Iona was stunned later Wednesday by ninth-seeded Rider, 71-70, in its opening game of the tournament, putting its NCAA tournament hopes in jeopardy.

Iona has won a conference-record 13 tournament titles. The architect of much of the team's recent success, former coach Tim Cluess, resigned in March 2020 after nine seasons due to health issues and Pitino was hired after coaching two seasons in Greece.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.