Jan. 28, 2008
THE GAME: Loyola enters the game on a four-game winning streak while New Jersey Institute is the only winless team in Division I, having dropped 21 straight to open this season and 25 straight since a four-point win at Longwood on February 19, 2007. The Greyhounds are above .500 for the first time since late November and are looking for their first non-conference win since beating Howard in Philadelphia on November 23, a span of five games.
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. On Saturday, he became the sixth coach at Loyola to collect 50 career victories and now has a 50-58 (.463) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate has never coached against the Highlanders. New Jersey Institute head coach Jim Casciano is in his seventh season with the Highlanders and has a 66-123 (.349) record. The 1977 Drexel graduate is in his 22nd season as a collegiate head coach and has a 262-313 (.456) career mark. He similarly has never coached against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: The Highlanders have played two other MAAC schools and there are three other opponents that appear on the schedules of both teams. Among non-conference opponents, Loyola defeated American, Pennsylvania and Vermont during a three-game home stretch in November. The Greyhounds just completed a series sweep of Manhattan on Saturday, but lost at Rider two weeks ago. All five of these Loyola opponents defeated New Jersey Institute.
THE SERIES: This is the first meeting between the schools. Loyola has not played any of the 10 schools currently listed by the NCAA as a Division I Independent.
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 1105-1139 (.492) all-time record. The College announced recently its plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first season of Loyola basketball November 14-16, 2008.
LAST TIME OUT: The Greyhounds overcame a two-point halftime deficit by outscoring Manhattan 43-22 while committing just three turnovers over the final 20 minutes to collect their fourth straight win with a 79-60 victory over the Jaspers. Loyola held a 30-14 advantage at the free-throw line and a 38-24 positive margin in rebounding in sweeping the season series over Manhattan. Marquis Sullivan came off the bench to score a game-high 23 points and Omari Isreal was perfect from the floor, making all three of his attempts from the field and all eight of his foul shots for 16 points. Michael Tuck scored 13 and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and Brett Harvey added 11 points and seven assists without a turnover.
LOYOLA FINDING JANUARY SUCCESS: One year after the most successful January in school history (8-2), the Greyhounds came get within one game of the record as they enter tonight with a 6-3 record for the first month of the year. The mark this year has offset a 1-4 December record and Loyola is above .500 for the first time since they were 4-3 after completing play in the Philly Hoop Group Classic in late November.
GREYHOUNDS RAIN THREES: Thursday's win over Siena saw Loyola set a new school record for three-pointers made with its 18. That eclipsed the mark of 16 first established on December 9, 2005, in an overtime win at Fairfield, and equaled on January 8, 2006, in a home win over Marist. The performance tied the MAAC record which is held by Siena after making 18 in a home win over Saint Peter's on December 4, 1999. The 56.3 percent from three-point range (18-32) is a season high for the Greyhounds as was the 54.5 percent from the field (30-55).
DEFENSE! DEFENSE!: In holding Siena Thursday night to 29.2 percent from the field (19-65), the Greyhounds recorded its season-low for an opponent's shooting percentage. The previous low was the 29.6 percent from the floor (16-54) shot by Manhattan in December. The Saints also made just 22.2 percent of their attempts from three-point range (6-27) and opened the game making just one of its first 17 field-goal attempts. Earlier this month, Loyola held Iona to just two field goals during a decisive 28-6 run that spanned 13 minutes over both halves in which the only baskets were a dunk and a layup. The Greyhounds followed that by allowing Fairfield only six first-half field goals in beating the Stags at home for the third straight season.
AND MORE DEFENSE!: When Loyola allowed 57 points at Saint Peter's and 56 points to Siena, the Greyhounds permitted less than 60 points in back-to-back MAAC games for the first time since January 25-27, 2001, when Iona scored 59 and Canisius scored 57. Loyola just missed three straight under 60 when Manhattan scored that number on the nose in the last outing. The last previous time the Greyhounds held three straight MAAC opponents to less than 60 points scored in the regular season was during a three-game winning streak to close out the 1996-97 season when Siena (55), Saint Peter's (49) and Fairfield (59) failed to reach 60 points. Loyola's next outing was a 53-43 loss to Niagara in the MAAC Quarterfinals, making four straight games of holding teams under 60. In five of Loyola's seven MAAC wins, its opponent has failed to reach score more than 60 points, including the season-low of 51 scored by Iona, 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.
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 24, senior guard Gerald Brown is ranked 62nd in scoring average and 65th in steals per game, junior guard Marquis Sullivan is ranked 72th in three-point field-goal percentage and 97th in three-point field goals made per game and sophomore guard Brett Harvey is 28th in assist/turnover ratio. In team statistics, the Greyhounds are 31st nationally in free-throw percentage and 59th in three-point field goals made per game.
SULLIVAN EXCELLING OFF THE BENCH: Junior guard Marquis Sullivan has taken to his renewed role off the bench. In 13 games out of the starting lineup, he has scored in double figures nine times, including each of the last five. 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 eight home games, he has reached double digits seven times - scoring nine in the eighth outing - and is averaging 14.5 points while shooting 49.4 percent from the field (41-83) and 50 percent from three-point range (27-54). Fittingly, his final three-pointer against the Saints Thursday night broke the school record for three-pointers by the Greyhounds in a game as they finished with 18 and he followed that by leading all scorers with 23 points in the win at Manhattan.
TUCK ADDS ANOTHER CAREER PERFORMANCE: One game after equaling his career-best in scoring and establishing his career-high in rebounding, senior forward Michael Tuck bettered that career mark in scoring with 23 points in the win Thursday over Siena. He made a season-high nine of his 13 shots from the floor, including a career-high four three-pointers in six attempts, and also added eight rebounds. In his last five games, he is averaging 15.8 points and 8.4 rebounds while shooting 59.2 percent from the floor (29-49) and 61.5 percent from three-point range (8-13). After averaging 5.6 rebounds through the first five games of the season, he has averaged 7.9 boards in the 16 outings since.
BROWN SCORES 1,000 LOYOLA POINTS: On the night he was honored for scoring the 1,000th point of his career, senior guard Gerald Brown notched his 1,000th point in a Loyola uniform on the second of back-to-back three-pointers with 3:09 remaining in the first half Thursday night to push the Greyhounds' lead back to double digits at 27-15. In achieving the feat in 49 career games, he became the 28th player in school history to reach that plateau and the first since Jason Rowe 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. In addition to his 20 points against Siena, he grabbed eight rebounds and equaled his career-best with five assists.
HARVEY ADJUSTING TO NEW ROLE: Sophomore guard Brett Harvey has adjusted nicely to his new role as the starter at shooting guard. Moved from the starter at the point six games ago to make room for freshman Brian Rudolph, Harvey has scored in double figures in five of the six games and scored nine points with seven assists and no turnovers in the sixth one. He made seven of his 11 shots from the field en route to a career-high 20 points at Fairfield and connected on five three-pointers to equal his career-best in scoring 16 points in the win Thursday over Siena. In the six games since the move, he is averaging 13.7 points, 5.0 assists and 4.2 rebounds while playing 33.8 minutes a game and shooting 47.9 percent from the floor (23-48), 44.1 percent from three-point (15-34), and 80.8 percent from the free-throw line (21-26). He had scored just 19 points in the four games prior to shifting to shooting guard.
RUDOLPH RESPONDS TO STARTING ROLE: Freshman guard Brian Rudolph was moved back into the starting lineup at Fairfield and has responded. Loyola has won five of the six games since and nine of the Greyhounds' 11 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. The 10-point outing in the win over Siena was his fifth double-digit scoring effort this season and he is averaging 7.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists while playing 29.5 minutes a game and shooting 46.4 percent from the field (13-28), 42.9 percent from three-point (6-14) and 88.2 percent from the free-throw line (15-17) in the six games since returning to the starting lineup.
ISREAL IS PERFECT FROM THE FLOOR: One game after taking just one shot from the floor and not scoring in the win over Siena, senior forward Omari Isreal did not miss a shot at Manhattan as he connected on all three of his field-goal attempts and all eight of his free throws for 14 points. The double-figure outing was his first in seven games. He also blocked two shots and grabbed six rebounds one game after collecting a career-high 14 rebounds in that win over the Saints. His 31 blocks is the seventh-highest season total in recorded school history and he has 52 blocks in 44 career games. He has been impressive in games played at Reitz Arena, averaging 10.0 points and 6.8 rebounds in 17 career home games while helping the Greyhounds to a 13-4 record in those games. This season, he has averaged 9.0 points and 6.3 boards in eight 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 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. Style and pace of the game limited him to just seven minutes in the win over Siena, but he made his only two attempts from the floor for four points and grabbed three rebounds in 13 minutes before fouling out at Manhattan.
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 has placed five players on double figures in each of its last two home games, wins over Marist and Siena, each of whom was in first place in the conference standings at the time. In both games, the group consisted of Gerald Brown, Brett Harvey, Marquis Sullivan, Brian Rudolph and Michael Tuck. Loyola also accomplished the feat when it played at Seton Hall as Omari Isreal and Joe Miles joined Brown, Sullivan and Tuck. 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).
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).