THE GAME: The Greyhounds have won four straight for the first time this season and are seeking their fifth straight win. It would be Loyola's longest winning streak since a six-gamer last season from mid-January through the first game of January. Marist has lost three in a row and five of its last six after Friday night's 79-70 home loss to Canisius.
THE COACHES: Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos enters his fifth season and has registered a 67-74 (.475) career record. The Greyhounds' win Thursday night over Saint Peter's moved Patsos into fifth place all-time in victories at Loyola with 67. The 1989 Catholic graduate is 4-5 against the Red Foxes. Marist head coach Chuck Martin is in his first season with the Red Foxes and sports a 7-14 (.333) career record. The 1993 Monmouth graduate is 0-1 against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: Outside of conference foes, there are no teams that appear on the schedules on both of this afternoon's opponents. Both teams collected home wins over Saint Peter's and lost home contests to Siena. The Greyhounds won at Manhattan while the Red Foxes lost on the Jaspers' home floor while Marist won its home game with the Purple Eagles after Niagara won at Reitz Arena.
THE SERIES: Marist leads the series, 27-17. The teams have alternated home wins over the last seven games with Loyola winning the first and the Red Foxes matching he win on their home floor. The Greyhounds put five players in double figures for the second year in a row in their home win last Sunday as sophomore guard Jamal Barney led all scorers with 22 points. Senior guard Marquis Sullivan was next with 17 points, juniors Brett Harvey and Jawaan Wright each tallied 13 and sophomore guard Brian Rudolph rounded out the quintet with 11. Last year at Marist, Sullivan tied for game-high scoring honors with 20 points on 6-8 three-point shooting.
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 1123-1156 (.493) all-time record during the time.
LAST TIME OUT: The Greyhounds used a 12-2 run in the second half to grab a seven-point lead and were never headed in a 57-56 home win Thursday night over Saint Peter's. Loyola held the Peacocks to just eight second-half field goals and 1-10 three-point shooting for the game. Sophomore guard Jamal Barney scored nine of his game-high 17 points in the final seven minutes of the contest. Junior guard Brett Harvey added 11 off the bench as the only other Loyola player in double figures.
BARNEY NAMED MAAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore guard Jamal Barney received his second MAAC Player of the Week award this season on Monday after averaging 27.7 points and 7.3 rebounds to lead Loyola to a 3-0 week. He provided something different in each of his three performances. In scoring 40 points against NJIT, he established school records for free throws made (18) and attempted (22). At Manhattan, he connected on a career-high four three-pointers as part of his 21 points. Against Marist, he scored 11 points in the final four minutes of the game to help hold off the Red Foxes, finishing with 22 points to go along with a career-high six assists.
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 nine games in which opponents are making just 26.8 percent (34-127) from three-point territory. Entering the game with the Blue Devils, Greyhounds opponents had been successful 41.2 percent (73-177) of the time.
MORE ON BARNEY: After getting his legs under him and scoring just 66 points in his first six games, sophomore guard Jamal Barney has tallied in double figures in 14 of the 15 contests that followed, the only blip being an eight-point outing at Duke. In 10 of those 15, he has reached 20 or more points, including a 41-point effort at Canisius and 40 points against New Jersey Institute. Those are the only 40-point games in the MAAC this season. He has taken over the top spot in the conference in points per game (18.4 ppg), having raised his scoring average 8.6 points since going scoreless in a November game against Cornell. Through games of January 18, he is ranked 54th nationally in scoring. He also is averaging 5.6 rebounds, lifting his average more than two boards per outing since that game with the Big Red. Since he moved into the starting lineup 17 games ago, he is averaging 20.5 points and 6.1 rebounds a game while shooting 44.9 percent from the floor (131-292) and 79.5 percent from the free-throw line (66-83). With just 13 more points, he will post the 48th season with 400 or more points in Greyhounds history.
HARVEY REACHES MILESTONE: Junior guard Brett Harvey became just the eighth player in men's basketball history to record 300 assists in a career in the win last Sunday over Marist. With 222 more points, he will join a quintet of players with more than 1,000 points and 300 assists in a career (Tracy Bergan, Tom Gormley, Kevin Robinson, Jason Rowe). He needs 22 more points to become the 42nd player in Loyola's recorded history to reach 800 career points. After not making a field goal against New Jersey Institute, he was shut out in the first half of the next two games only to ignite Greyhounds rallies with 13 points after the intermission in both games. He had a string of 47 consecutive free throws snapped at Saint Peter's and was ranked fifth nationally through games of January 18 as one of 13 players above 90 percent for the season. 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 13.9 points over his last eight games while shooting 46.3 percent (19-41) from three-point range.
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 again last Sunday in the win over Marist and is averaging 7.0 points, 4.8 assists and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 40.7 percent (24-59) from the floor and 72.9 percent (35-48) from the foul stripe in the 12 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. In his latest outing, he scored 17 points in 14 minutes against Marist, connecting on five three-pointers for the third time this season. He cracked the Top 25 in career scoring during the game and now has 1,127 career points. After not playing for two games, he came off the bench cold to drain the game-clinching free throws in the four-point win at Manhattan. 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 ESTABLISHES CAREER HIGH: Junior forward Jawaan Wright carried the Greyhounds with his first-half effort last Sunday in the win over Marist. He did not miss a shot from the field and made five of his six free-throw attempts to score 13 points before the intermission to establish a new career high. He scored Loyola's final six points of the half to give Loyola a three-point lead. He also grabbed eight first-half rebounds to match his career-best in that category. He did not improve on either of those numbers in the second half after picking up two quick fouls but his contribution was significant. His double-digit scoring output was his first since coming off the bench to score 11 points late in the game at Davidson - 14 games prior.
FARRELL RESPONDS TO STARTING ROLE: After starting the season opener, senior forward Brad Farrell spent the next 17 games coming off the bench, seeing no more than 19 minutes in any outing until a 26-minute stint against New Jersey Institute. His two points, two rebounds and effort earned him the start at Manhattan and he responded. Playing a season-high 28 minutes, he made three field goals for a season-best six points and added three rebounds, one assist and a steal. He scored Loyola's first basket after freshman forward Anthony Winbush found him under the basket following a Winbush steal. He scored the last basket of the first half on a dunk after slipping to the basket and receiving the assist from junior guard Brett Harvey. His final field goal was a turnaround jumper in the lane with the shot clock winding down to give Loyola a 53-48 lead with 2:40 remaining. On Loyola's next possession, he rebounded a Greyhounds miss to give them a new shot clock, setting up a huge three-pointer from sophomore forward Isaac Reid to give Loyola a 56-49 lead with 1:12 remaining. He was back in the starting lineup again last Sunday and did not score, but grabbed six rebounds in 26 minutes. He made his first three-point basket of the season Thursday night and then added a conventional three-point play for six straight Loyola points and a 9-4 lead four minutes into the game.
REID REACHES DOUBLE DIGITS: Sophomore forward Isaac Reid was in double figures in scoring at Saint Peter's for the first time in five games with 11 points. He added eight rebounds and blocked a shot in 22 minutes played. He followed that by grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds against New Jersey Institute. Five times this season he has reached double figures in points and four 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. In the win at Manhattan, he connected on a three-pointer with 1:12 remaining to give Loyola a seven-point lead.
WINBUSH DOING THE LITTLE THINGS: Keen observers have noticed the impact that freshman forward Anthony Winbush has made when he moved into the starting lineup for a 14-game stretch. After playing just 34 minutes in the season's first four games, he hadn't played less than 22 in any of his 14 starts until the NJIT game when he played just one minute after succumbing to the flu. He came off the bench at Manhattan and tied for team-high honors with eight rebounds and three assists. He was off the bench again last Sunday with three rebounds and three assists to go along with four points. And Thursday, he was in a reserve role, scoring all six of his points in a four-minute stretch to open the second half and help the Greyhounds overturn a five-point deficit. Over the last 17 games, he is averaging 4.4 points and 4.9 rebounds while recording 25 steals and 23 assists.
FICKE DOING ALL OF THE LITTLE THINGS: It's been a big two months for senior forward Dan Ficke. He graduated in December after 3-1/2 years with a degree in business. Later that month, he made his first career start, at Duke on national television no less. He enrolled in graduate school this month, seeking an MBA from Loyola's nationally known program. And of late, he has been on the floor during most of Loyola's offensive runs, although one would never know it. He has yet to score a point and his only shot taken this season came during his start at Duke, but his rebounding and screening has been game-changing.
SPREADING THE SCORING: Although sophomore guard Jamal Barney has taken much of the scoring load of late, through 21 games six different players have posted team-high scoring honors thus far. Barney has led the team 13 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 and responded to a three-game losing streak by winning four straight. Time will tell how the rest of the month fares.
NEXT TIME OUT: The Greyhounds are at the commencement of a three-game road swing that continues Friday night at Rider at 9 o'clock on ESPNU. The weekend concludes Sunday at Fairfield in a 2:00 p.m. contest that will be carried live locally on MASN. Loyola's next home contest is February 7 when it hosts Manhattan in Reitz Arena at 7 o'clock.