Tragedy leads Tre Bowman to Iona

There's a middle ground between the casual college basketball fan and the serious fan. I'm not sure what that middle ground is termed, but whoever is on it knows this much about Iona: Scott Machado played there, and Scott Machado is gone.

These fans are probably assuming that Iona will disappear from their radar for the upcoming season, and then pop back again at some later year like plucky mids are want to do.

So for those fans, this information is for you. Yes, Scott Machado is gone. And so is Mike Glover – who you probably couldn't pick out of a lineup but was equally awesome on the court. Still, there are plenty of pieces left for head coach Tim Cluess. They still have Momo Jones and Sean Armand, but the problem is that most of the other pieces are completely new to the program. Iona signed 9 new players. This replaced the six graduation seniors (including Machado and Glover), two transfers and one unused scholarship.

One of those nine was a 6-7 JUCO player named Michael Haynes.

Those middle fans don't know that name but probably remember something about a college basketball recruit being murdered in Chicago in July. Yes, that was Michael Haynes.

So what is a head coach to do? Tragedy has just taken a player from the team. What are the players to do?

Today that first question was answered. Tre Bowman is transferring from Midland College to Iona.

The middle fans won't know Bowman. He began his career at Penn State but his stay was short. He was suspended for poor grades. He and three other athletes were involved in an off-campus fight. And so he transferred to Midland College. At Midland the 6-4 guard averaged 12 points a game in his only season. Heading into his junior year he's off to Iona where he'll be eligible immediately.

And now the Iona players are welcoming a new teammate. Most of them either didn't know or hardly knew the teammate they lost, and now they have to navigate those tricky waters between being defined by a tragedy they weren't a part of, and moving forward with their lives and dreams while respectfully allowing that tragedy to partially define their college careers.

Typically in these columns I analyze the impact of transfers, but in this case it hardly matters. Iona is back to a full 13, but it's the one who isn't there that's the most important. So, if you're one of those middle fans, tune in to Iona this year when you can. Pay attention. Senseless violence changed this team, and the only thing the remaining players can do about it is just go out and hoop.