Jan. 7, 2008
Lawrence, Kan. - THE GAME: Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos has talked all season about using tonight's game against the nationally ranked Jayhawks as "an experience". Last year at Michigan State, the Greyhounds led for much of the first half and trailed by just two at the intermission despite shooting just 32.1 percent before the Spartans used a pair of 13-2 runs to put the game away. Following that game, Loyola returned home to conference play and won six straight MAAC games and eight of nine to record the school's best January on record at 8-2.
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 45-56 (.446) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate has never coached against the Jayhawks. Kansas head coach Bill Self is in his fifth season with the Jayhawks and has a 109-29 (.790) record at the school. The 1985 Oklahoma State graduate has a 326-134 (.709) career record and similarly has never coached against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: There are no opponents that appear on the schedules of both teams. Kansas disposed of Niagara in an NCAA Championship First Round game last March following the Purple Eagles' MAAC title which included a win over the Greyhounds in the MAAC Semifinals.
THE SERIES: Tonight is the first time these opponents have met on the hardwood despite a combined history of 208 seasons of basketball. In fact, Loyola has never faced a team representing the Big XII Conference since it formed in 1997. In December 1995, the Greyhounds met Kansas State on a neutral floor in Oakland in the Otis Spunkmeyer Classic while the Wildcats were members of the Big Eight, the precursor to the Big XII. Loyola also played at Texas in the first round of the Longhorn Classic in December 1990 while the Longhorns were members of the now-defunct Southwest Conference. The complete history is located on Page 3 of this release.
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 1101-1137 (.492) all-time record.
LAST TIME OUT: The Greyhounds posted a 28-6 run over a 13-minute stretch that spanned both halves en route to a 63-51 MAAC win over Iona Sunday at Reitz Arena. Trailing by eight, Loyola allowed just a dunk and a layup in taking a 44-30 lead with 9:46 remaining in the game. Senior guard Gerald Brown recorded his second career double-double with game-highs for points (16) and rebounds (11). Senior forward Michael Tuck chipped in with his seventh career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds and freshman guard Brian Rudolph converted 10 of 12 from the free-throw line on his way to a career-high 12 points.
A VACATION, LOYOLA STYLE: The Greyhounds are traveling to Kansas with a number of extra supporters of the program. Loyola logs in with a travel party of 50 for the trip - two-and-a-half times its normal size. Included are college administrators, alumni and friends of the program. In addition to attending the game, the group accompanied the team to its Tuesday shootaround at the College Basketball Experience in Kansas City and will enjoy a Kansas City steak dinner following tonight's game.
GREYHOUNDS AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS: Despite a history spanning 98 seasons of basketball, Loyola has only 17 recorded games against teams ranked by the Associated Press since the weekly rankings begin in 1948-49. The highest-ranked team prior to tonight was the 1952-53 La Salle team that was ranked No. 3 one season prior to its 1954 National Championship. The Greyhounds faced two ranked teams in seasons that would include Final Fours - the 1969-70 St. Bonaventure Bonnies and the 1993-94 Arizona Wildcats. The matchup with Arizona was in the NCAA Championship West Regional First Round following Loyola's only MAAC Championship, the Greyhounds' last postseason appearance.
DEFENSE! DEFENSE!: In addition to second-half shooting, Loyola's defense was a key to the win Sunday over Iona. The 51 points allowed were the fewest given up by the Greyhounds since a 65-50 win over North Florida on November 11, 2006. The number was the lowest for a MAAC opponent since Rider scored 50 in a 50-44 win over the Greyhounds on February 21, 2003. Iona scored just two field goals on a dunk and a layup during the decisive 28-6 run that spanned 13 minutes over both halves.
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.
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. A summary of where Loyola players rank with the MAAC can be found on Page 5 of this release.
BROWN RECORDS DOUBLE-DOUBLE: For just the second time in his career, senior guard Gerald Brown recorded a double-double with game-highs for points (16) and rebounds (11) against Iona. His only previous double-double was an 18-point, 12-rebound effort last January in a win over Siena. Including his 128 points scored at Providence, the Baltimore native scored the 1,000th point of his career at Illinois and needs 90 points to become the 28th player to reach that milestone while playing for Loyola. The last player in a Greyhounds uniform to perform that feat was Jason Rowe who did so during his junior season in 1999. The complete list of 1,000-point scorers is listed on Page 82 of the 2007-08 Loyola Men's Basketball Media Guide.
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. He followed that by making four of five against Iona, helping him to 10 points and coupled with 10 rebounds became his second double-double effort of the season and the seventh of his career. The career leader in field-goal percentage entering the season, Tuck is back at No. 1 at 54.3 percent, ahead of Mark DiGiacomo's 53.9 percent. The team's leading rebounder at 6.8 boards per game, he 18 rebounds away from reaching the top 10 in career rebounds at Loyola.
ISREAL SETS PERSONAL CAREER BLOCKS MARK: Senior forward Omari Isreal has equalled his career best in blocked shots in each of the last two games with four in both. The efforts give him 24 blocks on the season and eclipses his personal high of 21 set last season with more than half the season remaining. The Rockville, Md., native has collected blocks in each of his last six games and is averaging 2.3 blocks per game over that stretch. He is eighth on the Loyola career chart with 45 in just 37 games.
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 had his string of consecutive double-figure scoring games at Reitz Arena snapped at six when he tallied just nine on Sunday. Sullivan did move into the No. 2 spot in career three-pointers with 162, 24 behind leader Jason Rowe's 186. His next attempt will tie him for second in three-point tries and next in line will be Rowe's 540 career attempts.
RUDOLPH KNOCKS THEM DOWN AT FREE THROW LINE: Freshman guard Brian Rudolph established a new career high with 12 points against Iona as he made his only attempt from the field and 10 of 12 free-throw tries. He was a perfect four-four-four while recording two steals inside the final minute of the game. He played 30 minutes in the contest and boosted his free-throw percentage to 76.5 percent with the effort.
FICKE IGNITES DEFENSIVE RALLY: Junior forward Dan Ficke had played in just 52 minutes in his two-plus seasons at Loyola, but when he was called upon Sunday against Iona, he delivered. While playing a career-high 17 minutes, the Engelwood, Colo., native grabbed a career-best five rebounds, scored a basket and handed out an assist. More importantly, he was on the floor for 10:32 of a 13:26 stretch when the Greyhounds put together a 28-6 run to turn an eight-point deficit into a 14-point lead.