THE GAME: Loyola had its six-game winning streak snapped Sunday at Fairfield, but has won three straight at Reitz Arena entering tonight. Manhattan has alternated wins and losses in its last six games and comes into tonight having won its last outing, a 67-48 win Monday night at Marist.
THE COACHES: Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos enters his fifth season and has registered a 69-75 (.479) career record. The victory at Marist moved him into fifth place all-time in wins at Loyola. The 1989 Catholic graduate is 5-5 against the Jaspers. Manhattan head coach Barry Rohrssen is in his third season with the Jaspers and sports a 37-46 (.446) career record. The 1983 St. Francis (N.Y.) graduate is 1-4 against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: Outside of conference foes, the only team that appears on the schedules of both teams is New Jersey Institute. Manhattan opened the season at the Highlanders' gym and collected a victory and NJIT visited Reitz Arena with the Greyhounds winning. Among conference foes, both teams swept Marist and were swept by Niagara and both teams won at Canisius and at home over Saint Peter's while losing at home to Siena. The Jaspers won their home game with Fairfield while the Stags won on their visit to Reitz Arena.
THE SERIES: Manhattan leads the series, 19-16, although Loyola has won three straight and four of the last five. The Greyhounds are seeking their second consecutive season sweep after collecting a 58-54 road win at Manhattan last month. Sophomore guard Jamal Barney scored a game-high 21 points and junior guard Brett Harvey added 13 off the bench as Loyola shot 52.2 percent (12-23) in the second half while holding the Jaspers to 1-12 from three-point range for the game. Loyola held Manhattan to seven first-half field goals and jumped out to a 22-2 start in beating the Jaspers 77-54 in the teams' last matchup in Reitz Arena.
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 1125-1157 (.493) all-time record during the time.
LAST TIME OUT: Fairfield had two players record double-doubles and held the Greyhounds to 28.1 percent field-goal shooting to post a 68-54 home victory and end Loyola's six-game winning streak. Sophomore guard Jamal Barney led the Greyhounds with 16 points and sophomore guard Brian Rudolph added 12 points. Junior guard Brett Harvey scored just eight points but contributed seven rebounds, three assists and three steals without a turnover.
LOYOLA RECEIVES BRACKETBUSTER OPPONENT: The Greyhounds found out Monday night that is would be traveling to Philadelphia to play Drexel University on February 21 at 5 o'clock as part of their commitment to the pool of teams under consideration for a BracketBusters televised matchup. A member of the Colonial Athletic Association, the Dragons entered Tuesday night having won seven straight with a 12-8 overall record. Loyola is a perfect 3-0 in the February matchups in its three years in the event and 2-1 in the return games for a 5-1 record after its 95-89 win at UC Davis in December. The only loss was a road return game played just after the break for exams, dropping a 63-57 decision at High Point in December 2006.
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. Since holding Duke to 1-of-12 shooting, Loyola has put together 12 games in which opponents are making just 25.4 percent (44-173) from three-point territory. In three of those games, opponents have made just one three-pointer and there was one complete shutout. 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 17 of the 18 contests that followed, the only blip being an eight-point outing at Duke. In 12 of those 18, 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 (19.0 ppg), having raised his scoring average 9.2 points since going scoreless in a November game against Cornell. Through games of February 1, he is ranked 39th nationally in scoring. He also is averaging 5.6 rebounds, lifting his average 2.1 boards per outing since that game with the Big Red. Since he moved into the starting lineup 20 games ago, he is averaging 21.2 points and 6.2 rebounds a game while shooting 44.6 percent from the floor (154-345) and 81.3 percent from the free-throw line (87-107). In 16 of those 20 starts, he has scored in double figures after the intermission and more than 15 points seven of those 15 times, including five instances in the last eight contests. He boasts a 12.5 scoring average after halftime as a starter. His 26 points at Marist gave him more than 400 on the season, making it the 48th season of 400 or more points in Greyhounds history.
HARVEY HITS BUZZER BEATER: While he scored what proved to be the winning basket with 55 seconds remaining in a victory at Saint Peter's as a freshman, junior guard Brett Harvey had never beaten the buzzer to win or tie a game. That is, until this season. Down three at Marist, the Greyhounds turned to their best clutch shooter and he delivered with a 35-footer that rattled home and sent the game to overtime. Loyola won it in the extra session for its fifth straight win. One week earlier, he became the eighth player in men's basketball history to record 300 assists in a career and he now needs 177 points to join a quintet of Greyhounds players with more than 1,000 points and 300 assists in a career (Tracy Bergan, Tom Gormley, Kevin Robinson, Jason Rowe). He is the 42nd player in Loyola's recorded history to reach 800 career points. He had a string of 47 consecutive free throws snapped at Saint Peter's and then made 26 straight before making just eight of nine at Rider. Twice against the Red Foxes, he was fouled on a three-point shot attempt and made all three free throws and then did it again at Rider. Through games of February 1, he is ranked second nationally in free-throw percentage and is one of nine players above 90 percent for the season. Five 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 14.2 points over his last 11 games while shooting 41.1 percent (23-56) 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 has scored in double figures in three of his last five games after not missing a shot from the field en route to 12 points in the win at Rider and then following with 12 points at Fairfield. He also grabbed seven rebounds against the Broncs. He is averaging 7.7 points, 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 43.0 percent (34-79) from the floor in the 15 games since he came out of the starting lineup.
SULLIVAN REACHES 1,000: Senior guard Marquis Sullivan was honored prior to the game on December 10 for scoring the 1,000th point of his career. The 29th player to reach that milestone, 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 scored 17 points in 14 minutes in the home win 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 1,147 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 and he moved into the Top 10 with his appearance at Rider.
WRIGHT ESTABLISHES CAREER HIGH: Junior forward Jawaan Wright carried the Greyhounds with his first-half effort in the home 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 then 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. In the rematch with the Red Foxes, he played a significant role late in the game. He created a tie-up to give Loyola a possession late in regulation and then in the overtime, he made a pair of free throws with 1:49 remaining and then dove on the floor for a loose ball and called time out to save a possession with 49.3 seconds left in the extra session. At Rider, he collected a career-high 11 rebounds while scoring four points with a block and two steals.
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 overall 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 has started five straight including that game, matching the six points scored in the win over Saint Peter's and then grabbing six and four rebounds in the two wins over Marist.
WINBUSH PROVIDING SPARK OFF THE BENCH: 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 has continued to come off the bench for the last six games, averaging 2.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals while averaging 21.7 minutes played over that stretch.
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 in January, seeking an MBA from Loyola's nationally known program. And at the beginning of January, he was on the floor during most of Loyola's offensive runs, although one would never know it. He has yet to score a field goal and his only shot taken this season came during his start at Duke, but his rebounding and screening was game-changing. He made both of his free-throw attempts at Fairfield for his first points on the season.
TRAVELING WITH THE GREYHOUNDS: When Jimmy Patsos took the reins of the program, he made a commitment to develop the "student" part of "student-athlete" and has held to his word. Much of those teachings have come with how the Greyhounds spend their time off the court. In past years, they have attended Broadway shows and the Chicago Board of Trade as a group. This year has been no different. Already this season, the Greyhounds have had cultural lunch experience while in Boston; visited the Castro, Coit Tower and the Haight-Asbury district in addition to traveling over the Golden Gate Bridge while in San Francisco; and have viewed two Academy Award-nominated films ("Milk" and "Slumdog Millionaire"). On the basketball side, they have practiced at the University of San Francisco, Cameron Indoor Stadium and the Dean Smith Center, all of which have multiple National Championship banners hanging in their rafters.
SPREADING THE SCORING: Although sophomore guard Jamal Barney has taken much of the scoring load of late, through 24 games six different players have posted team-high scoring honors thus far. Barney has led the team 16 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).
JANUARY SUCCESS COMES AGAIN: Despite starting the New Year with three losses in its first four games, Loyola concluded January with a 7-3 record, matching the 7-3 mark posted last season. Both are one game less than the 8-2 record put together by the 2006-2007 team, winning eight of its 18 victories during that one month. All told, the Greyhounds are 22-8 (.733) in the last three seasons in January under fifth-year head coach Jimmy Patsos.
NEXT TIME OUT: Tonight begins a stretch of four of five MAAC games at home. The lone road contest in that stretch is Monday at Siena. After that, Loyola hosts Iona on Friday, Canisius on February 16 and Rider on February 26.