THE GAME: Both teams enter tonight coming off of conference losses, although Fairfield won its last outing, a non-conference affair at Army on Tuesday night to snap a three-game losing streak. The Greyhounds won two of five on its recent road stretch and returns home for the first time since December 10.
THE COACHES: Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos enters his fifth season and has registered a 63-72 (.467) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate is 4-6 against the Stags. Fairfield head coach Ed Cooley is in his third season with the Stags and sports a 35-41 (.468) career record. The 1994 Stonehill graduate is 3-3 against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: Outside of conference opponents, there are no teams that appear on the schedules of both these schedules. Within league play, each team has lost to Siena this far, Loyola dropping a home contest and Fairfield losing on the Saints' home floor.
THE SERIES: Fairfield leads the series, 30-14, although Loyola has won two straight and three of the last four. The series began in 1977 and the teams played twice before meeting twice annually as members of the MAAC. The Stags have won 10 straight in Reitz Arena, but Loyola has won three of four at the Arena at Harbor Yard and have knocked Fairfield out of the MAAC Championship in the Quarterfinal Round each of the last two seasons.
THE PROGRAM: Loyola is playing its 99th recorded season of basketball this season. The first season was 1908-1909 and this year the College is celebrating the 100th anniversary of that first season. The Greyhounds have posted a 1119-1154 (.492) all-time record during that time.
JESUIT BASKETBALL SPOTLIGHT: Tonight's matchup between Loyola and Fairfield is part of the nationwide Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project, using Jesuit basketball to raise awareness of Jesuit education. Both Loyola and Fairfield are Jesuit schools. The Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project highlights more than 90 games this season between men's and women's teams from the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities across the United States. Each of the 28 is dedicated to strong academics and teaching women and men to serve others and live a faith that does justice. The spotlight project includes awareness announcements during these designated games and during gamecasts on radio and television; and other awareness opportunities. Jesuit, Catholic colleges and universities in the United States have more than 200,000 students currently and more than 1.7 million living alumni. The Jesuit educational mission began in Europe approximately 500 years ago.
LAST TIME OUT: Despite leading at halftime 39-36, the Greyhounds could not hold on as they went 10:36 without a field goal in the second half and Niagara posted an 82-70 home win Monday night. Six Purple Eagles scored in double figures in the game and Niagara held a 28-11 advantage at the free-throw line. Sophomore guard Jamal Barney led the Greyhounds with 20 points and seven rebounds while junior guard Brett Harvey chipped in with 13 points and sophomore guard Brian Rudolph added 12 points and seven assists.
BARNEY NAMED MAAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore guard Jamal Barney became the third Greyhounds player to be recognized as the MAAC Player of the Week this season when he was cited on Monday by the conference office. For the week, Barney averaged 23.0 points and 6.0 rebounds with eight steals over three games. The bulk of those numbers came during his 41-point outburst at Canisius during which he made 15 of his 19 shots from the field.
MORE ON BARNEY: After just 66 points in his first six games, sophomore guard Jamal Barney has poured in 181 points in the nine since, including six efforts of 20 or more. Not forgotten has been his rebounding in his last eight outings, grabbing 57 boards for an average of 7.1 per game. Five times in the last 11 games he has started he has made better than 50 percent from the floor and he has made six or more field goals in each of those five games. Since he moved into the starting lineup 11 games ago, he has reached double figures in nine while leading the team in scoring six of those times. Over that 11-game stretch, he is averaging 18.9 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting 48.3 percent (83-172) from the field and 80.0 percent (32-40) from the free-throw line.
HARVEY GIVING TEAM WHAT IT NEEDS: Twice this season, junior guard Brett Harvey has scored one field goal or less in a game. After each of those pairs of games, he has responded with scoring outbursts. Following the first instance, he tallied 15 points against Siena and then 27 points against Niagara to begin a four-game stretch of double-figure games. After the latest instance, he scored 22 points Saturday in the win at Canisius and then added 13 points at Niagara. Whatever the team has needed, his free-throw shooting has remained consistent, ranking third nationally in the latest NCAA numbers through January 4. Four times this season he has made nine or more foul shots in a game and his 13-for-13 performance against Niagara equaled the second-best performance in school history. He has made 43 consecutive free throws entering tonight.
RUDOLPH LENDS HELPING HAND: Out of the starting lineup for the first time since early January of last year, sophomore guard Brian Rudolph responded with his best performance of the season against Coppin State, handing out nine assists without a turnover and adding two steals. The assist total was just one off his career high of 10. He had his two front teeth knocked out while diving for a loose ball in the game and committed just one turnover after the incident over three games, handing out five helpers with no turnovers at UC Davis and six assists with just one turnover at North Carolina State. He led the team in scoring with 13 points at Duke and then made seven free throws for his only points while handing out seven assists in the win at Canisius. He was back in double figures Monday at Niagara and is averaging 7.8 points, 6.0 assists and 3.2 rebounds while shooting 45.5 percent (15-33) in the six games since he came out of the starting lineup.
SULLIVAN REACHES 1,000: Senior guard Marquis Sullivan was honored prior to the December 10 game for scoring the 1,000th point of his career. The 29th player to do so, he tallied the historic basket on a three-pointer with 4:33 remaining in the first half at Davidson, one of four three-pointers he scored in the game while leading the team with 16 points. After being held scoreless in the win over Coppin State, he bounced back with a season-high 20 points in just 22 minutes at UC Davis and then scored 21 points in 20 minutes at North Carolina State. He has made four or more three-pointers four times in 12 games this season, shooting 50 percent or better from long range in each of those outings. His appearance at UC Davis made him the 37th player in Greyhounds basketball history to play in more than 100 games in a career.
LEWIS MAKES HIS RETURN: Sophomore guard Tony Lewis made his return to the lineup at UC Davis and scored eight points with a steal in 18 minutes played. He had played sparingly in a pair of games immediately following and then did not dress for four games after exploding for a career-high 23 points and eight rebounds against Cornell. He is shooting 54.9 percent (28-51) from the floor and 70.0 percent (7-10) from the foul line.
WINBUSH LENDS SUPPORT: Keen observers have noticed the impact that freshman forward Anthony Winbush has made since moving into the starting lineup 11 games ago. After playing just 34 minutes in the season's first four games, he hasn't played less than 22 in any of his 10 starts, including a career-high 36 at North Carolina State. He scored seven points before fouling out at UC Davis while contributing stellar defense against the taller Aggies and followed that with a team-high seven rebounds and more defense against the Wolfpack. Since moving into the starting lineup, he is averaging 4.6 points and 5.2 rebounds while recording 20 steals and 15 assists.
WIEGAND EARNS STARTS: A freshman walk-on, center Josh Wiegand earned a start in the second half of the home Niagara game and has made five starts since. In that game against the Purple Eagles, he made all three of his shots from the field for six points and added five rebounds, including four off the offensive glass. His next outing resulted in two points, four rebounds, a steal and a block against Coppin State.
HALL TALLIES DOUBLE DIGITS AGAIN: Freshman guard J'hared Hall matched his career-high against Coppin State, scoring 11 points in a career-best 17 minutes. Seven of his points came in the second half and his only three-pointer of the game cut what was a 20-point Greyhounds deficit to nine with 14:32 remaining. He first tallied 11 at Vermont, scoring the three-point basket that brought Loyola all the way back from a 13-point first-half deficit to tie the game with 12:35 left. He played a career-high 18 minutes at Niagara, scoring nine points with four rebounds.
WRIGHT PUTS UP THE BLOCKS: Junior forward Jawaan Wright has already collected 17 blocked shots through his 13 games, including five at Vermont. He leads the team in field-goal percentage (.625) and is fourth in rebounding (2.8 rpg). He has cracked the Top 15 in Loyola's career blocked shots list, recording 37 in two-plus seasons thus far to rank 14th.
SPREADING THE SCORING: Although sophomore guard Jamal Barney has taken much of the scoring load of late, through 15 games six different players have posted team-high scoring honors thus far. Barney has led the team eight times, senior guard Marquis Sullivan three times, junior guard Brett Harvey twice and sophomores Tony Lewis, Brian Rudolph and Isaac Reid (shared) have each done so once. Last season, only four Greyhounds posted a team high through 33 games.
GOOD BYE 2008: The Greyhounds concluded the 2008 calendar year with 19 victories which was one more than 2007. The 19 wins were the most since the Greyhounds won that many in 1985, winning 13 to conclude the 1984-1985 season and six to open the 1985-1986 campaign. The last time the Greyhounds won 20 or more games in a calendar year was 1971 when it won 17 games and the Mason-Dixon Conference tournament to cap a 19-7 season in 1970-1971 and opened the following year with four victories for 21 triumphs during the year.
AND HELLO 2009: January has been very kind to the Greyhounds the last few seasons. To open 2006, Loyola won three of its first four. The 2007 year began with four straight wins and victories in six of the first seven. And 2008 started with the Greyhounds tasting victory in eight of 11. Loyola won its 2009 opener before losing at Niagara Monday night. Time will tell how the rest of the month fares.
NEXT TIME OUT: The Greyhounds are back on the road again this weekend when they travel to Jersey City, N.J., to visit Saint Peter's for a 2 o'clock start. Loyola returns home again Wednesday when it hosts New Jersey Institute at 7:00 p.m.