Jan. 10, 2008
THE GAME: Tonight's opponents are meeting for the second time in eight days and will complete their season series in the conference's fifth game of the schedule - before each team has even faced six of their other conference opponents. Inexplicably, this will conclude two season series for each as Loyola concluded its season series with Iona Sunday and Fairfield wrapped its season series with Siena Tuesday. These teams also met twice in a one-week span last February and then again in the MAAC Championship, meaning that in Loyola's last 13 games against MAAC opponents, the Greyhounds will have faced Fairfield five times.
THE COACHES: Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos is in his fourth season and coached his 100th career game at Loyola when these two teams played one week ago. He became just the eighth coach in Loyola's 98-season history to be on the sidelines for 100 or more games and has registered a 45-57 (.441) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate is 2-6 against the Stags. Fairfield head coach Ed Cooley is in his second season with the Stags and has a 18-28 (.391) career record. The 1994 Stonehill graduate has a 3-1 record against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: In addition to their respective conference foes, the only team on the schedules of both teams is American. Each collected victories as Loyola recorded a 71-67 home win on November 13 and Fairfield won 60-52 in Washington two days later. Neither team has played a similar conference opponent to date.
THE SERIES: Fairfield leads, 30-12, and the Stags have won 16 of the last 17 regular-season meetings. However, Loyola has captured the three contests when this pair have met in the MAAC Tournament, including last season's 76-72 win at the Arena at Harbor Yard to advance to the MAAC Semifinals. Fairfield won a pair of home meetings prior to Loyola's inclusion in the MAAC in 1989-90 and 11 times one of the teams has swept the season series, nine of those times being the Stags. Fairfield won this season's first meeting a week ago when the Stags left Reitz Arena with a 69-67 victory, snapping Loyola's five-game home winning streak. The complete series history is listed 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 1101-1138 (.492) all-time record.
LAST TIME OUT: No. 3 Kansas scored 13 straight points after Loyola pulled within four points at 26-22 with just over five minutes remaining before halftime and the Jayhawks pushed the run to 38-9 over a 13:23 stretch that spanned both halves before coasting to a 90-60 non-conference victory Tuesday night in front of a sold-out crowd at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Gerald Brown led Loyola with 13 points, 12 of those coming on four first-half three-pointers. Marquis Sullivan added 12 and Greg Manning chipped in with 10 to match his career high.
SCHEDULE MUSINGS: Loyola's conference schedule the last two seasons is indeed unique. Dating back to last February and including an appearance in the MAAC Championship and tonight, Loyola will have played 13 games against conference opponents. Five of those times, Fairfield will be the opponent - the season series for both years and a MAAC Quarterfinal game. Both of the matchups with Canisius in that span represented the season series last year as are two games with Iona this season. The MAAC Semifinal game against Niagara was the second in the stretch for the Greyhounds and Purple Eagles, having met on the last weekend of the regular season. Loyola concluded its series last season with Rider in that run of games and opened the series with Manhattan this year. Loyola has not played Marist, Saint Peter's or Siena at all during that stretch.
A VACATION, LOYOLA STYLE: When the Greyhounds visited Kansas earlier this week, their travel party numbered nearly 50 - two-and-a-half times its normal size. Included were college and athletic administrators, alumni and friends of the program. In addition to the experience of fabled Phog Allen Fieldhouse, the group enjoyed a steak dinner at a Kansas City steak house following the game.
GREYHOUNDS AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS: Despite a history spanning 98 seasons of basketball, Tuesday was just the 18th recorded contest Loyola has played against teams ranked by the Associated Press since the weekly rankings began in 1948-49. Kansas' No. 3 ranking equaled the highest ranked team of the 18, that being the 1952-53 La Salle team that also 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 increasing its 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 Loyola 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 6, senior guard Gerald Brown is ranked 47th in scoring average and 27th in steals per game, junior guard Marquis Sullivan is ranked 68th in three-point field-goal percentage and 70th in three-point field goals made per game, sophomore guard Brett Harvey is 40th in assist/turnover ratio, and senior center Omari Isreal is 79th in blocked shots per game. In team statistics, the Greyhounds are 14th nationally in free-throw percentage. A summary of where Loyola players rank within 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 77 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 FLIRTING WITH TOP OF SHOOTING CHART: In what will be a continuing story this season, senior forward Michael Tuck is bouncing around the top spot in Loyola's career field-goal shooting list. After entering the season in the top position, he fell back and regained the No. 1 spot after making 10 of 13 shots last weekend. A 3-for-12 performance at Kansas has dropped him back to third at 53.7 percent [298-555]. The team's leading rebounder at 6.9 boards per game, he is nine rebounds away from reaching the top 10 in career rebounds at Loyola.
ISREAL SETS PERSONAL CAREER BLOCKS MARK: Senior forward Omari Isreal equalled his career best in blocked shots by notching four against both Fairfield and Iona. His one block at Kansas gives him 25 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 seven games and is averaging 2.1 blocks per game over that stretch. He is eighth on the Loyola career chart with 46 in just 38 games.
SULLIVAN RISES ON THREE-POINT CHARTS: Junior guard Marquis Sullivan now holds the No. 2 positions for both three-point shots made and attempted for his career, trailing only the numbers of Jason Rowe in both categories. Sullivan's 164 successful threes is behind the 186 posted by Rowe while the Westminster, Md., native moved into the second spot for attempts at Kansas with 407. Next in line will be Rowe's 540 career attempts. Sullivan has reached double figures in four of the last six games and is averaging 11.7 points over that stretch.
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-for-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. He followed that with four rebounds in 16 minutes at Kansas.
AND MANNING IGNITES OFFENSE: Senior guard Greg Manning became the second little-used Loyola player in as many games to make a significant contribution off the bench. The shooting specialist made four of his six attempts from the floor at Kansas, equaling his two-year-old career high with 10 points in just 11 minutes. He also grabbed two rebounds and collected two steals. Manning entered the game having scored 14 points on the season.