THE GAME: Both of tonight's opponents are looking to snap losing streaks. The Greyhounds dropped three MAAC games last week and have lost five of six. New Jersey Institute is yet to taste victory this season and has a losing streak that dates back to a win at Longwood on February 19, 2007 - 49 games ago.
THE COACHES: Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos enters his fifth season and has registered a 63-74 (.460) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate is 1-0 against the Highlanders. New Jersey Institute head coach Jim Engles is in his first season with the Highlanders and sports a 0-16 (.000) career record. The 1990 Dickinson graduate has never coached against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: There are four opponents that appear on the schedules of tonight's teams. The Highlanders have lost at Rider and at Vermont and dropped home games to Manhattan and Saint Peter's. Loyola lost at Vermont and Saint Peter's and will play both Manhattan and Rider twice this season in addition to host Saint Peter's.
THE SERIES: Loyola captured the only previous meeting in the series, collecting a 72-54 win in Newark last January. Senior guard Marquis Sullivan scored 13 points, junior guard Brett Harvey grabbed six rebounds and recorded six assists and sophomore guard Brian Rudolph handed out eight assists. The Greyhounds' defense held the Highlanders to 25.0 percent (16-64) shooting for the game.
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 1119-1156 (.492) all-time record during that time.
LAST TIME OUT: Saint Peter's Ryan Bacon hit a twisting layup with 3.5 seconds remaining to lift the Peacocks to a 61-59 MAAC home win over the Greyhounds Sunday afternoon. Loyola used a 16-6 run to overcome a 10-point deficit and knot the game at 50 with 7:28 remaining. The Greyhounds held their last lead at 55-54 after two free throws from sophomore guard Jamal Barney with 4:49 left and tied the score at 57 on a runner in the lane from junior guard Brett Harvey with 2:26 remaining and again at 59 on two free throws from freshman forward Anthony Winbush with 35.5 ticks left. Barney led all scorers with 21 points and Harvey and sophomore forward Isaac Reid split 22 points evenly with Reid grabbing a team-high eight rebounds.
GREYHOUNDS SHORE UP THREE-POINT DEFENSE: Opponents' ability to shoot the three-point shot early in the season was one area of concern for the Greyhounds, but they have shown drastic improvement of late. Since holding Duke to 1-of-12 shooting, Loyola has put together five games in which opponents are making just 25.7 percent (18-70) from three-point territory. Entering the game with the Blue Devils, Greyhounds opponents were successful on 41.2 percent (73-177) of the time. Loyola also has improved on its attempts from long range, making 34.2 percent (27-79) over that same five-game stretch after shooting 32.2 percent (76-236) prior to that.
BARNEY CONTINUES SCORING ASSAULT: Sophomore guard Jamal Barney came to Loyola from Providence with the reputation as a scorer and he has not disappointed. After not playing in a game since January 2007, he shook off early-season rust by scoring just 66 points in his first six games. Since then, he has tallied in double figures in 10 of the 11 contests that followed, the only blip being an eight-point outing at Duke. In seven of those 11, he has reached 20 or more points, including a 41-point effort at Canisius. That was just the fourth 40-point outing in Loyola's 99-season basketball history and the first one in more than 50 years. It is also the only 40-point game in the MAAC this season. He has overtaken the top spot in the conference in points per game (16.9 ppg) while also grabbing 5.5 rebounds a game. Since he moved into the starting lineup 13 games ago, he is averaging 19.1 points and 6.1 rebounds a game while shooting 47.8 percent from the floor (99-207) and 80.4 percent from the free-throw line (37-46).
HARVEY GIVING TEAM WHAT IT NEEDS: Twice this season, junior guard Brett Harvey has scored one field goal or less in consecutive games. 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. He matched that four-game string of double-digit scoring after the latest instance after tallying 11 points at Saint Peter's on the heels of a 21-point effort Friday against Fairfield. He made 47 consecutive free throws before missing the first two of a three-shot foul trip at Saint Peter's. He entered the game fourth in the NCAA in free-throw percentage through games played of January 8. 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 is averaging 16.8 points over his last four games while shooting 44.0 percent from the floor (22-50) and 52.2 percent from three-point range (12-23).
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 at Niagara and is averaging 7.0 points, 5.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds while shooting 40.0 percent (16-40) from the floor and 74.2 percent (23-31) from the foul stripe in the eight games since he came out of the starting lineup.
REID REACHES DOUBLE FIGURES: Sophomore forward Isaac Reid was in double figures Sunday for the first time in five games with 11 points at Saint Peter's. He added eight rebounds and blocked a shot in 22 minutes played. Five times this season he has reached double figures in points and three times he has grabbed 10 or more rebounds. Only once has he done both in the same game, scoring 17 points with 14 rebounds at UC Davis for his first career double-double.
WINBUSH DOING THE LITTLE THINGS: Keen observers have noticed the impact that freshman forward Anthony Winbush has made since moving into the starting lineup 13 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 13 starts, including a career-high 36 at North Carolina State. Since moving into the starting lineup, he is averaging 4.8 points and 5.2 rebounds while recording 23 steals and 16 assists.
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.
WRIGHT PUTS UP THE BLOCKS: Junior forward Jawaan Wright has already collected 18 blocked shots through his 15 games, including five at Vermont. He leads the team in field-goal percentage (.577) and is fourth in rebounding (2.9 rpg). He has cracked the Top 15 in Loyola's career blocked shots list, recording 38 in two-plus seasons thus far to tie for 13th.
SPREADING THE SCORING: Although sophomore guard Jamal Barney has taken much of the scoring load of late, through 17 games six different players have posted team-high scoring honors thus far. Barney has led the team nine times, senior guard Marquis Sullivan and junior guard Brett Harvey three times, 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 - Gerald Brown (19 times), Sullivan (seven), Michael Tuck (five) and Harvey (twice).
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 but has lost three straight since. Time will tell how the rest of the month fares.
NEXT TIME OUT: Tonight is the first of three-of-four games at home for Loyola, but next up is that lone road game, a trip to Manhattan Friday night to take on the Jaspers in an ESPNU telecast. The Greyhounds host Marist Sunday in the first of two straight at home then entertain Saint Peter's on January 22. The game with Peacocks will be televised live on MASN.