Jan. 24, 2008
THE GAME: The Greyhounds have won two straight entering tonight and possess a two-game winning streak over Siena after sweeping the season series last year. Loyola has won six of seven home games. The Saints are alone in first place in the MAAC at 7-1 and have won four straight as they enter Reitz Arena.
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 48-58 (.453) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate is 3-3 against the Saints. Siena head coach Fran McCaffery is in his third season with the Saints and has a 47-31 (.603) record. The 1982 Pennsylvania graduate is in his 12th season as a head coach and has a 186-157 (.542) career mark, including a 2-2 record against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: Outside of MAAC foes, there are no teams that appear on the schedules of both teams. Through eight conference games, both of tonight's opponents have faced Fairfield, Iona, Manhattan and Saint Peter's thus far. Both teams split with the Stags (each losing on their home floor while winning at the Arena at Harbor Yard) and both teams beat the Jaspers and Peacocks on their lone meetings. The Saints won at home over the Gaels while the Greyhounds split with Iona.
THE SERIES: Siena leads the series, 30-13. The teams split four games prior to matchups when sharing a conference affiliation. The teams competed together in the ECAC Metro Conference (1981-84) before Siena departed for the North Atlantic Conference and together they joined the MAAC for the 1989-90 season. The Greyhounds swept the series last season, winning an overtime decision in Albany and then a one-point game in Baltimore in January.
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 1103-1139 (.492) all-time record.
LAST TIME OUT: Michael Tuck matched his career-high with 22 points and established another with 16 rebounds to lead Loyola to its second straight win and fourth in five MAAC games with a 62-57 win at Saint Peter's. Brian Rudolph gave the Greyhounds the lead for good with a second-half three-pointer and sealed the game with two free throws with 8.7 ticks remaining for his only points to go along with seven assists. Brett Harvey scored 13 for his second straight game and Marquis Sullivan came off the bench to hit double digits for his third straight contest with 12 points. Loyola made 19 of its 23 free-throw attempts, including a perfect eight-for-eight from Tuck, who entered the game making 45.8 percent on the season.
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 this current three-game stretch that ends tonight with the game against the Saints. The Greyhounds have defeated Marist and Saint Peter's in its last two 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 20, senior guard Gerald Brown is ranked 67th in scoring average and 44th in steals per game, junior guard Marquis Sullivan is ranked 74th in three-point field-goal percentage and sophomore guard Brett Harvey is 28th in assist/turnover ratio. In team statistics, the Greyhounds are 27th nationally in free-throw percentage and 96th in three-point field goals made per game.
TUCK, RUDOLPH FETED BY MAAC: Senior forward Michael Tuck and freshman guard Brian Rudolph were selected as the MAAC's Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively, on January 21 after leading Loyola to a sweep of its conference games for the preceding week. This is the second time in two seasons that Loyola has swept the weekly awards after Gerald Brown and Brett Harvey accomplished the feat following a 2-0 week on January 15, 2007. This is the first career award for Tuck, who averaged 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 54.5 percent from the floor (12-22) and 80 percent from the free-throw line (8-10). Rudolph was honored for the second time this season after he averaged 8.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists while making 55.6 percent from the field (5-9) and 83.3 percent from the charity stripe (5-6).
TUCK PUTS UP CAREER NUMBERS: Senior forward Michael Tuck recorded a career game in win at Saint Peter's. In addition to equaling his career-high in scoring with 22 points, he established a new career-best with 16 rebounds. The double-double was his third this season and the eighth of his career. He shot 50 percent from the floor (7-14) and made all eight of his attempts from the free-throw line after entering the contest at 45.8 percent for the season. His five rebounds in the win over Marist made him the 12th recorded player in Loyola history to grab 500 career boards. The Toronto, Ontario native is averaging 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 57.1 percent (16-28) from the field in the last three games.
BROWN NEARING 1,000 LOYOLA POINTS: Senior guard Gerald Brown is seven 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 tonight's game. 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.
RUDOLPH RESPONDS TO STARTING ROLE: Freshman guard Brian Rudolph was moved back into the starting lineup at Fairfield and has responded. Loyola has won three of the four games since and seven of the Greyhounds' nine wins have come with Rudolph in the starting lineup. Against the Stags, he handed out a career-best eight assists and held Fairfield guard Jonathan Han without a field goal until there was 6:42 remaining in the game and Loyola had built an 11-point lead. He played the entire second half in the win over Marist and equaled his career-high with 12 points while grabbing a team-high seven rebounds with five assists. At Saint Peter's, he handed out seven assists and pulled down five rebounds and his only points of the game came in the second half as his three-pointer gave the Greyhounds the lead for good and his two free throws sealed the victory with 8.7 seconds remaining.
HARVEY ENJOYS CAREER NIGHT: Sophomore guard Brett Harvey enjoyed a night to remember at Fairfield. 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. Since then, he has scored in double figures in three of the four games, averaging 13.75 points while handing out 4.3 assists with 4.0 rebounds while shooting 56.3 percent from the field (18-32), 42.9 percent from three-point range (9-21) and 77.8 percent from the free-throw line (14-18).
SULLIVAN EXCELLING OFF THE BENCH: Junior guard Marquis Sullivan has taken to his renewed role off the bench. In 11 games out of the starting lineup, he has scored in double figures seven times, including each of the last three. Now second on the career charts for three-pointers made and attempted behind only Jason Rowe, the Maryland native has torched the nets in Reitz Arena this season. In seven home games, he has reached double digits six times - scoring nine in the seventh outing - and is averaging 14.7 points while shooting 49.3 percent from the field (37-75) and 50 percent from three-point range (24-48).
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 two blocks at Saint Peter's gives him 28 blocks on the season and eclipses his personal high of 21 set last season as Loyola plays the second half of the season. The Rockville, Md., native had collected blocks in seven straight games from December 7 to January 8 to average 2.1 blocks per game over that stretch. He is eighth on the Loyola career chart with 49 in 42 games. He has been impressive in games played at Reitz Arena, averaging 10.6 points and 6.3 rebounds in 16 career home games while helping the Greyhounds to a 12-4 record in those games. This season, he has averaged 10.3 points and 5.1 boards in seven games at Reitz.
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 had not played yet in 2008 after injuring himself at Illinois until last weekend. Working his way back to health, he came off the bench to play 12 minutes one week ago against Marist and equaled his season-highs with four points and six rebounds and followed that with two points and two rebounds in 13 minutes at Saint Peter's.
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.
GREYHOUNDS STRIVE FOR FIVE: 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).
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. Loyola is allowing MAAC opponents the fewest rebounds in the league (30.8 per game) and is first in rebounding margin (+5.5) through eight league games.