LOYOLA-SIENA SERIES HISTORY: Siena leads the series, 33-15. The Saints have won four straight after Loyola recorded four consecutive victories during the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 seasons for its longest winning streak in the series.
LAST TIME OUT: Senior guard Brett Harvey scored 15 of his game-high 21 points during the first 13 minutes of the contest and Loyola's defense held on the final possession to open 2010 with a 68-66 MAAC home victory over Rider Saturday afternoon. Rider's Ryan Thompson threw up a wild layup attempt from under the basket with six seconds remaining and sophomore forward Anthony Winbush secured the rebound to seal the win. Winbush finished with 12 points and forced MAAC Preseason Player of the Year Thompson into a one-for-10 shooting afternoon. Junior guard Jamal Barney added 11 points, five assists and a season-high five assists off the bench for the Greyhounds.
CONTINUING JANUARY SUCCESS: The home win Saturday over Rider continued a trend for the Greyhounds during the year's first month. For the fourth time in five seasons, Loyola won its first conference game in January and the Greyhounds extended their January record to 23-8 (.742) over the last four seasons. In each of the last two seasons Loyola has pieced together six-game winning streaks running through January and in 2006-2007 the Greyhounds won six straight conference contests in January.
STARTING STRONG: It is said: it is not how one starts, it is how one finishes. Well, during Loyola's current four-game winning streak, strong starts have been a key to the success. During the four contests, the Greyhounds have held their opponents to an average of 24.5 first-half points while scoring 46 points twice and averaging 48.6 percent (53-109) from the field, including 62.1 percent (18-29) from three-point range. Loyola built a 29-6 lead against Howard, opened the game with 15 straight points and led 29-7 at Indiana, outscored Bucknell 20-8 over the game's first 16 minutes and put together a 37-17 lead Saturday against Rider.
COLLECTING HOME WINS: One of the things head coach Jimmy Patsos has preached about since his arrival six seasons ago was the value of having a home court advantage and winning on that home court. He has certainly back that up. Loyola improved to 41-26 (.612) under Patsos' leadership in Reitz Arena with its home win Saturday over Rider. The home win last month over Howard, increasing its mark in non-conference home games to 16-5 (.762). Take away his 6-22 first season, and he is 36-18 (.667) in Reitz Arena overall and has won 15 of 17 non-league games (.882) at home.
WINNING THE MONTH: A lot of coaches talk to their teams about winning the four-minute segments that take place during a basketball game, the theory being that winning enough of those will win the game. A parallel can be drawn to winning months of games to have a winning season. Through the first two months of the season, Loyola has a winning record in each, posting a 3-2 mark in November and a 4-3 record in December. That's the first consecutive winning months for the Greyhounds since going 7-3 in January 2008 and 6-2 in February 2008 en route to a school Division I-record 19 wins that season. Loyola has not recorded three straight months with a winning record since doing so between December 1978 and February 1979. The Greyhounds finished 17-11 that season.
WINBUSH DOING IT ON BOTH ENDS: Sophomore forward Anthony Winbush helped the Greyhounds to wins in their last three outings with significant contributions on both ends of the floor. In the win at Indiana, he held Hoosiers' leading scorer Maurice Creek to half his season average (9) and forced him into four turnovers. Winbush collected six steals to equal the fifth-best single-game number in history and connected on both his three-point tries to finish with eight points. Then, at Bucknell, he matched his career high with 17 points, making six of his nine shots from the floor, including both his three-point tries, and all three of his foul shots. His contribution Saturday against Rider was two-fold, scoring 12 points while grabbing seven defensive rebounds and holding MAAC Preseason Player of the Year Ryan Thompson to one-for-10 field-goal shooting.
HARVEY SHOWS THE WAY: For the second time during this four-game winning streak, senior guard Brett Harvey used late-game heroics to give Loyola the win. At Indiana, he scored nine straight Greyhounds points as Loyola tallied 10 of the final 12 points to reverse a three-point deficit into a 72-67 victory. Saturday after scoring 15 points in the game's first 13 minutes, he tallied his only six of the second half with four free throws and a driving layup in a three-minute span in which the Greyhounds answered a 15-0 Broncs run by scoring eight straight and 10 of 12 to return the lead in Loyola's favor. He was named the MAAC Co-Player of the Week on December 28 for his efforts in the win at Indiana. He reached 1,000 career points last month during a season-high 28-point effort at Canisius, became the 38th player in history to play in 100 career games at Mount St. Mary's in November and became the seventh player to surpass 350 career assists at Indiana.
BARNEY PROVIDING BENCH PUNCH: In the 11 games that junior guard Jamal Barney has come off the bench, Loyola has outscored its opponent's bench 10 times with Barney being the leading bench scorer in eight of those 11 games. He is on a run of eight straight games in which he has tallied double figures, averaging 16.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per outing. He was honored as the MAAC Player of the Week on December 21 following his 28-point performance off the bench in the win over Howard, the third such recognition of his career. Saturday, he scored 11 points in the win over Rider, including two crucial driving layups, while grabbing five rebounds and adding a season-high five assists.
WALKER POSTS FIRST CAREER DOUBLE-DOUBLE: Sophomore forward Shane Walker recorded the first double-double of his career in the win at Dartmouth, matching his career-high with 14 points and grabbing a career-best 11 rebounds. Third on the team in scoring (8.5 ppg), he is the team's leading rebounder at 6.6 boards per game. He scored 10 points with six rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots in Saturday's win over Rider.
LEWIS PROVIDES BENCH SPARK: The biggest asset in the game of senior guard Tony Lewis has been his energy and hustle off the bench and that has been showcased in the last four wins. In the victory over Howard, he scored 14 points in 14 minutes, shooting 85.7 percent (6-7) to match the 15th-best single-game performance in history. He made all four of his attempts in the 2007 win over the Bison, meaning for his career in two wins over Howard he shot 10-11 from the floor with 23 points. He played just nine minutes at Indiana, but scored six points with two rebounds and a steal, his second-half layup being Loyola's only basket during an 18-2 Hoosiers run.
CRAZY EIGHTS FOR BROOKS: Freshman forward Julius Brooks posted his career-high of eight points for the third time in the win at Indiana. The points came on just four shots, all during the first half. He finished with the eight points, four rebounds and a block in 22 minutes. He first tallied eight points at West Virginia and matched it to go along with eight rebounds at Dartmouth. He has started all 12 of his appearances, missing the game at Niagara with an illness, and is third on the team in rebounding with 4.3 boards per game.
OLSON'S A THIEF: One of the most eye-popping numbers coming out of the win at UMBC was the six steals recorded by freshman guard Robert Olson. The number tied for fifth all-time in Loyola history and was matched by the six pilfers by sophomore forward Anthony Winbush at Indiana. Olson also showed a shooting touch in the game, making a pair of first-half three-pointers, the first ones of his career. He is shooting 50.0 percent (10-20) from three-point range for the season and matched his career-high of eight points in Saturday's win over Rider, first established at UMBC.
STARTING LINEUP: Last year, every Greyhounds player on the roster with the exception of walk-on Garrett Kelly made at least one start during the season, meaning 12 of the 13 eligible players opened the game on the floor. This year just three lineups have been tested out with three newcomers - sophomore forward Shane Walker and freshmen Julius Brooks and Robert Olson - among the starting five 11 times.
THE DEFENSE DOESN'T REST, PART ONE: For the second time this season, the Greyhounds held an opponent to under 50 points after the 55-49 win at Bucknell. The last time Loyola turned that trick was the 1991-1992 season, both times coming at home. The Greyhounds have not held a pair of road opponents to less than 50 points in the same season since allowing 46 points at both Baltimore and Pittsburgh-Johnstown in the 1979-1980 campaign. The 41 points allowed at Dartmouth was the first time in seven years that an opponent was held under 50 points and was the lowest point total in 26 seasons.
BIGGEST WIN EVER?: The win at Indiana has sparked discussion on its place among Loyola's wins during its 100-year history. Certainly, it is the biggest regular-season win since the program elevated to Division I in 1981-1982. It was the Greyhounds' first win over a Big Ten member in eight tries and first-ever victory over a team with multiple National Championships, having lost 10 straight to teams with that pedigree. Head coach Jimmy Patsos has made a commitment to a scheduling philosophy that experiences college basketball's history and Assembly Hall is the fourth building in the last four years in which more than one National Championship banner hangs that the Greyhounds have played. A verbal agreement has been reached to play at North Carolina next season to make it five years in a row.
FINDING THE SHOOTING TOUCH: Through nine games, Loyola was shooting just 39.5 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point range. Following the 10-day break for final exams, the Greyhounds reversed those numbers. Loyola shot a blistering 81.5 percent (22-27) in the second half of its win over Howard, finishing at 69.6 percent (32-46) for the second-best performance in school history. It made its first six three-point tries and ended at 75.0 percent (9-12) for the game, also the second-best effort in school annals. The Greyhounds shot 58.6 percent (17-29) in the first half at Indiana and finished at 53.3 percent (24-45) against the defensive-minded Hoosiers. It was the first time Loyola connected on better than 50 percent in consecutive wins since triumphs at Siena and at home against Niagara in January 2007. For the two games, the Greyhounds shot 61.5 percent (56-91), including 60.7 percent (17-28) from three-point range.
RECORD SHOOTING LEADS TO RECORD WIN: When the shooting is clicking along with solid defense, a team can build a comfortable margin of victory. That was the case in the win over Howard as Loyola's 34-point score differential is its largest over a Division I opponent since elevating the program full-time to Division I in 1981-82. The Greyhounds had previously beaten non-Division I opponents by larger margins in their history.
BLOCKING IT OUT: One of Loyola's weaknesses last season was the consistency of its front line. That has been improved dramatically with additions to the roster and is being proven through block shot totals that have been recorded thus far. Sophomore forward Shane Walker leads the team with 19 blocks through 13 games and three other players have seven or more. Both Walker and senior forward Jawaan Wright collected four blocks at Coppin State. The Greyhounds recorded eight blocks in the season-opening win over Vermont, which tied for ninth best all-time at the time, and blocked nine shots at Coppin State, equaling the third-best single-game effort in history. The school record of 10 has been reached twice.
THE DEFENSE DOESN'T REST, PART TWO: Having averaged 90.3 points over a three-game road trip that included a nine-point loss at No. 22 Louisville and a 97-94 win at Arkansas, Morgan State was held to 27.8 percent (10-36) first-half shooting and shot just 32.8 percent (20-61) for the game by the Loyola defense in the Greyhounds' 78-66 victory. The Bears were held to 14.5 points below their season average as Loyola toppled the MEAC's defending tournament champion at home for the second straight year. The Greyhounds recorded a 73-70 win over Coppin State in 2008-2009.
TURNING 100: Loyola men's basketball turns 100 this season as it competes in its 100th recorded season. The first season was 1908-1909 and last year was the celebration of the 100th anniversary of that first season. This season is the 100th with two seasons being lost to World War I (1917-1918 and 1918-1919). The Greyhounds enter today with a record of 1134-1169 (.492) all-time.
NEXT UP FOR LOYOLA: After two home games, the Greyhounds have a single road game Friday night at Fairfield before returning home again for a pair of contests. The game with the Stags is a 9 o'clock start and will be televised live nationally on ESPNU. Loyola is home again in one week when it hosts Iona next Monday night at 7:00 p.m.