Rick Pitino’s Iona team sidelined rest of regular season

Iona and first-year coach Rick Pitino won’t have enough players to finish the regular season because of COVID-19 protocols but still plan to compete in the upcoming Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament.The team had five games remaining before the tournament, which is scheduled to begin March 8 in Atlantic City, N.J.The Gaels have been limited to just 13 games this season and have an 8-5 record — 6-3 in the MAAC. They didn’t play between Dec. 23 and Feb. 12 because of COVID-19 issues in the program. Pitino was among the members of the program to test positive earlier this season.”This is extremely unfortunate news to learn at a time so late in the season,” Pitino said in a school-released statement on Monday. “I feel awful for our student-athletes who worked so hard to get back following our pause that lasted nearly two months. The pandemic is still very real, and ultimately the health and safety of those around the program is most important. We look forward to returning and competing in the MAAC Championship in March.”