Jan. 5, 2008
THE GAME: This afternoon's opponents are on strikingly similar paths. Both lost road games around the holiday break and returned home only to suffer conference losses, Iona to Niagara on Thursday and the Greyhounds to Fairfield Friday night. These teams will meet for the second time in four conference games, meaning the season series is over before either team has met six of other league opponents.
THE COACHES: Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos is in his fourth season and coached in his 100th game at Loyola Friday night. He is just the eighth coach in Loyola's 98-season history to be on the sidelines for 100 or more games and has registered a 44-56 (.440) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate is 3-4 against the Gaels. Iona head coach Kevin Williard is in his first season with the Gaels and has a 5-10 (.333) career record. The 1997 Pittsburgh graduate has a 1-0 record against the Greyhounds after the 92-68 win in New Rochelle in the conference opener.
THE TEAMS: Outside of their respective conference foes, there are no teams that appear on the schedules of both teams. Neither team has played a similar league opponent to date.
THE SERIES: Iona leads the series, 36-9, with the first contest being played in 1951-52. The Gaels won 17 straight contests between February 1998 and January 2005 before Loyola captured a 73-64 home victory. That win triggered a stretch of three Greyhounds wins over the last five games. Iona won 92-68 on December 7 to open the league slate.
THE PROGRAM: Loyola is playing its 98th recorded season of basketball this season. The first season was 1908-09 and the Greyhounds have posted a 1100-1137 (.492) all-time record.
LAST TIME OUT: Fairfield's Anthony Johnson converted a layup with 52 ticks remaining for the Stag's first lead of the second half and grabbed the defensive rebounds to halt a pair of Loyola attempts to tie the game or take the lead and Fairfield collected a 69-67 MAAC win Friday night at Reitz Arena. Junior guard Marquis Sullivan led four Greyhounds in double figures with 16 points and senior forward Omari Isreal scored 15 points with four blocks. Seniors Gerald Brown and Michael Tuck each chipped in with 12 points.
THE END OF 2007: Loyola finished the calendar year of 2007 with an 18-14 record, including a 10-3 mark at Reitz Arena. The 18 wins equalled the most wins in a calendar year since the Greyhounds won 18 games in 1994, a year which included Loyola's only MAAC Championship and NCAA appearance and was split by two coaches - the late Skip Prosser who won 14 games after January 1, 1994, and his replacement, Brian Ellerbe, who won four games in his first two months at the helm. The start of 2007 saw the Greyhounds rattle off six straight MAAC wins after opening with a pair of league home games.
AND THE BEGINNING OF 2008: For the third time under fourth-year head coach Jimmy Patsos and seventh time in the last eight years, Loyola dropped the first game of the New Year. Last year's team opened January 2007 with four straight wins and finished the month 8-2, the most successful January in the Division I history of the program.
GREYHOUNDS AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS: Loyola is represented in several categories among the nation's statistical leaders. In NCAA-released statistics for games played through January 3, senior guard Gerald Brown is ranked 30th in scoring average and 34th in steals per game and sophomore guard Brett Harvey is 11th in assist/turnover ratio. In team statistics, the Greyhounds are 25th nationally in free-throw percentage.
BROWN REACHES CAREER MILESTONE: Senior guard Gerald Brown reached a career milestone when he drained a three-pointer with 7:38 remaining in the first half to surpass 1,000 points for his career. He finished with 16 points for 1,010 in his career, including 128 scored during his two seasons at Providence. The Baltimore native needs 106 points to become the 28th player to score 1,000 points at Loyola. The last Greyhounds player to reach that milestone was Jason Rowe who achieved that feat as a junior in 1999. The team's leading scorer at 19.9 points per game, Brown is also the team leader in steals with 29 and is third in rebounding with 4.6 an outing. The complete list of 1,000-point scorers is listed on Page 82 of the 2007-08 Loyola Men's Basketball Media Guide.
SULLIVAN RAINING THREES: Junior guard Marquis Sullivan returned to his scoring ways Friday night, leading the Greyhounds with 16 points, including four three-pointers. The Westminster native has scored in double figures in all five games at Reitz Arena this season and is averaging 16.2 points per home outing. He is shooting 52.7 percent from the field (29-55) and 52.8 percent (19-36) from three-point range in those games.
ISREAL EXCELLING AT HOME AS WELL: Senior forward Omari Isreal continues to put up consistent numbers at Reitz Arena. In his 14 career games on his home floor, the Rockville, Md., native is averaging 11.2 points and 6.4 rebounds. Three of his five double-figure scoring efforts have come at Reitz Arena and he equalled his career best with four blocks Friday night against Fairfield when he also scored 15 points, making all seven of his free-throw attempts.
TUCK RETURNS TO TOP OF SHOOTING CHART: In what will be a continuing story this season, senior forward Michael Tuck returned to the top spot in Loyola's career field-goal shooting list following his six-of-eight performance Friday against Fairfield. The career leader entering the season, Tuck is back at No. 1 at 54.1 percent, just ahead of Mark DiGiacomo's 53.9 percent. The team's leading rebounder at 6.5 boards per game, he is third in scoring with 9.4 points per outing.