Jan. 18, 2008
THE GAME: Loyola has alternated wins and losses in its last six games while Saint Peter's has dropped 10 of its last 11 after a three-game winning streak in mid-November. These teams split the season series last year, each winning on the other's home floor.
THE COACHES: Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos is in his fourth season and is just the eighth coach in Loyola's 98-season history to be on the sidelines for 100 or more games. He has registered a 47-58 (.448) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate is 2-4 against the Peacocks. Saint Peter's head coach John Dunne is in his second season with the Peacocks and has a 9-37 (.196) career record. The 1992 Ithaca graduate has a 1-1 record against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: Outside of conference foes, both teams played at Seton Hall earlier this season. Loyola dropped a 94-80 decision to the Pirates while the Peacocks lost 85-75. Within league play, each team has played four similar conference members thus far. Saint Peter's has yet to defeat any of them while the Greyhounds have wins against all four, splitting the season series with Fairfield and Iona and beating both Manhattan and Marist at home.
THE SERIES: Saint Peter's leads the series, 37-28. These teams played every season between 1950-51 and 1967-68 with the Peacocks winning 13 of the 18 contests. Loyola's overtime win in the quarterfinals of the 1994 MAAC Championship was the spring board toward the title and first appearance in the Division I NCAA Tournament. The Greyhounds have won two of the last three, snapping a seven-game win streak for Saint Peter's.
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 1102-1139 (.492) all-time record.
LAST TIME OUT: Gerald Brown's 24 points led five Greyhounds in double figures and Loyola scored 21 of 24 points over a 9:45 stretch of the second half to turn a four-point deficit into a 65-51 advantage en route to an 83-71 MAAC home win over Marist. Loyola's defense held the Red Foxes without a point for 5:11 of that span and just 38.2 percent second-half shooting. The starting backcourt of Brett Harvey and Brian Rudolph did most of the damage. Harvey scored 13, grabbed six rebounds and handed out five assists while Rudolph equaled his career-high with 12 points and established a career-best with seven rebounds while also recording five assists. Michael Tuck added 11 and Marquis Sullivan came off the bench to chip in with 13.
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, Loyola played 14 games against conference opponents through January 13. Five of those times, Fairfield had been 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 were 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 and started the series this season with the Broncs in that run of games and opened the series with Manhattan this year. Loyola had not played Marist, Saint Peter's or Siena at all during that stretch, but that all gets rectified in a current three-game stretch that started Thursday with Marist.
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 17, senior guard Gerald Brown is ranked 47th in scoring average and 47th in steals per game, junior guard Marquis Sullivan is ranked 78th in three-point field-goal percentage and 93rd in three-point field goals made per game and sophomore guard Brett Harvey is 30th in assist/turnover ratio. In team statistics, the Greyhounds are 38th nationally in free-throw percentage and 97th in three-point field goals made per game.
A SPECIAL QUINTET: Loyola placed five players in double digits in scoring during the win over Marist, the second time this season it has accomplished that feat. The group of Greyhounds Thursday night was Gerald Brown, Brett Harvey, Marquis Sullivan, Brian Rudolph and Michael Tuck. When Loyola played at Seton Hall, the group consisted of Brown, Tuck, Sullivan, Omari Isreal and Joe Miles. Last season, the Greyhounds put five players in double figures in back-to-back January games, overtime wins at Siena (Brown, Tuck, Josko Alujevic, Harvey, Sullivan) and at home over Niagara (Brown, Tuck, Sullivan, Harvey, Isreal).
BROWN NEARING 1,000 LOYOLA POINTS: Senior guard Gerald Brown is 14 points away from becoming the 28th player to score 1,000 career points as a Greyhound. Including his 128 points scored in two seasons at Providence, Brown netted the 1,000th point of his career in the first half of the game at Illinois. He will be honored for that career feat prior to Thursday's home game against Siena. The complete list of 1,000-point scorers is listed on Page 82 of the 2007-08 Loyola Men's Basketball Media Guide. In the home win two weeks ago over Iona, Brown collected his second career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. He has averaged 21 points in his last three outings.
HARVEY ENJOYS CAREER NIGHT: Sophomore guard Brett Harvey enjoyed a night to remember at Fairfield last Friday night. Having already posted a double-double this season (11 assists, 10 rebounds vs. Manhattan), the New City, N.Y., native scored a career-high 20 points with four rebounds and three assists. All season, Harvey has shifted between point and shooting guard and that night he went back to shooting guard as freshman Brian Rudolph returned to the starting lineup at the point. The 20-point outburst was just Harvey's second double-figure output of the season and came after scoring just 19 points in his previous four games. He followed that by scoring nine points with seven assists and no turnovers at Rider and then scored 13 points with six rebounds and five assists against Marist.
TUCK THE REBOUNDER: Loyola's career leader in field-goal percentage entering the season, senior forward Michael Tuck has bounced in and out of the top spot during the season, but one thing that has been consistent of late has been his rebounding numbers. Averaging just 5.6 rebounds through the season's first five games, he has increased that by one-and-a-half boards an outing (7.2) in the last 13 contests and is the team leader at 6.7 per game. He grabbed the 500th rebound of his career Thursday night in the win over Marist.
ISREAL SETS PERSONAL CAREER BLOCKS MARK: Senior forward Omari Isreal equalled his career best in blocked shots by notching four in home games against both Fairfield and Iona. His one block against Marist gives him 26 blocks on the season and eclipses his personal high of 21 set last season as Loyola enters the second half of the season. The Rockville, Md., native had collected blocks in seven straight games to average 2.1 blocks per game over that stretch. He is eighth on the Loyola career chart with 47 in 41 games. He has been impressive in games played at Reitz Arena, averaging 10.6 points and 6.3 rebounds in 16 career home games. This season, he has averaged 10.3 points and 5.1 boards in seven games at Reitz.
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 170 successful threes is behind the 186 posted by Rowe while the Westminster, Md., native moved into the second spot for attempts at Kansas and now has 424. Next in line will be Rowe's 540 career attempts. His pair of free throws with six seconds remaining sealed the 67-63 win at Fairfield.
RUDOLPH RESPONDS TO STARTING ROLE: Freshman guard Brian Rudolph was moved back into the starting lineup at Fairfield and has responded. In addition to drawing the defensive assignment of covering Stags point guard Jonathan Han all over the floor, the New Bedford, Mass., native handed out a career-high eight assists. Han was held scoreless until there was 6:42 remaining in the contest and Loyola had built an 11-point lead. Rudolph scored five points, including a key three-pointer after the Stags had closed within two with 3:12 left, and collected a pair of rebounds and steals. He scored nine points with four rebounds, two assists and a steal in his next outing at Rider. And Thursday in the win over Marist, he tied his career-high with 12 points while grabbing a career-best seven rebounds with five assists and playing the entire second half.
FOFANA MAKES HIS PRESENCE KNOWN: It has been a trying two years for senior center Hassan Fofana due to injury. Limited to 16 games last season after injuring his leg, he has not played yet in 2008 after injuring himself at Illinois. Working his way back to health, he came off the bench to play 12 minutes Thursday against Marist and equalled his season-highs with four points and six rebounds.
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 in the Iona home game, he delivered. While playing 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, three rebounds in 13 minutes at Fairfield and then career-highs for minutes played (18) and points (five) at Rider. His conventional three-point play gave Loyola its last lead of the first half with 90 seconds remaining before intermission after battling back from a 13-point deficit.
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 when he scored 10 points at Kansas. The shooting specialist made four of his six attempts from the floor, equaling his two-year-old career high in just 11 minutes. He also grabbed two rebounds and collected two steals. Manning entered the game having scored 14 points on the season. He followed that with a key three-pointer during a 12-4 Loyola run at Fairfield that helped the Greyhounds to an 11-point lead with 7:38 remaining.
DEFENSE! DEFENSE!: In addition to increasing its second-half shooting, Loyola's defense was a key to the home win 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 Greyhounds followed that up by allowing only six first-half field goals at Fairfield Friday night. Loyola is allowing MAAC opponents the fewest rebounds in the league (30.3 per game) and is first in rebounding margin (+5.7) through six league games.