Feb. 6, 2008
THE GAME: Both teams enter tonight having had long streaks of opposite types snapped in their latest outings. Niagara put an end to Loyola's six-game winning stretch Tuesday night and the Peacocks topped Manhattan on Sunday for their first win in nine tries. The Greyhounds have won two straight over Saint Peter's, but the Peacocks won in their last Reitz Arena appearance.
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 January 26, he became the sixth coach at Loyola to collect 50 career victories and now has a 52-59 (.468) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate has a 5-2 record against the Peacocks. Saint Peter's head coach Johe Dunne is in his second season with the Peacocks and has a 10-42 (.192) record. The 1992 Ithaca graduate has a 1-2 mark against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: Outside of conference foes, both teams played at Seton Hall and each suffered a defeat to the Pirates. Within MAAC "like" games, both teams recorded home wins over Manhattan and dropped the home meeting with the Stags and at Iona. The Greyhounds won at Manhattan and Fairfield and at home over the Gaels while Saint Peter's lost all three of those games.
THE SERIES: Saint Peter's leads the series, 37-29. 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 three of the last four, 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 1107-1140 (.493) 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: Niagara held Loyola without a field goal for the final 9:58 of the game and overcame a nine-point deficit to record an 83-79 home MAAC win Tuesday night at the Gallagher Center. After senior guard Gerald Brown gave the Greyhounds their last lead with the second of two free throws for his 30th point on the night, Charron Fisher scored four straight to give Niagara a lead it would not relinquish. Fisher led all players with 31 points and nine rebounds while Tyrone Lewis added 20 points. In addition to Brown's fourth 30-point outing of the season, junior guard Marquis Sullivan and freshman guard Brian Rudolph evenly split 24 points for Loyola.
RUDOLPH NAMED MAAC ROW FOR THIRD TIME: Freshman guard Brian Rudolph picked up his third MAAC Rookie of the Week award on Monday, sharing the honor with Canisius' Greg Logins. Rudolph averaged 8.5 points and 6.5 assists while shooting 70.0 percent from the field in leading the Greyhounds to a pair of wins last week. At New Jersey Institute, he scored six points and equaled his career best with eight assists and followed that by scoring 11 points with five assists at Canisius, but more importantly he held Golden Griffins guard Frank Turner to just seven points in 2-17 shooting two days after he had scored a career-high 27 points in a win over Fairfield. His three ROW awards trails only the four honors received by Marist's Jay Gavin.
NUMBERS FROM THE STREAK: Obviously, when a team posts a winning streak, there are more positive numbers than negative and Loyola's recent six-game stretch was no different. The six-game winning streak was the longest since the Greyhounds finished the 1991-92 season with six straight victories to end the regular season at 14-13. Numbers that jump off the page from the six games are Loyola outscored its opponents by 15.8 points per game and outrebounded its opponent by 6.5 boards per outing. The Greyhounds had assists on 99 of 146 field goals (67.8 percent) while their opponents assisted just 54 of their 122 buckets (44.3 percent). But the biggest differences came in the area of shooting. Loyola made 47.6 percent of its field-goal attempts (146-307), 41.0 percent of its tries from three-point range (55-134) and 78.3 percent from the free-throw line (108-138). On the other end of the court, opponents shot just 34.9 percent from the floor (122-350), 31.1 percent from three (41-132) and 61.0 percent from the charity stripe (75-123).
LOYOLA FINDS JANUARY SUCCESS: One year after the most successful January in school history (8-2), the Greyhounds were just one game below that mark after finishing the month with a 7-3 record after the win at New Jersey Institute. The mark this year has offset a 1-4 December record and Loyola climbed above .500 for the first time since it was 4-3 after completing play in the Philly Hoop Group Classic in late November.
DEFENSE! DEFENSE!: In holding New Jersey Institute to 25.0 percent from the field (16-64), the Greyhounds recorded their season-low for an opponent's shooting percentage. The previous low was the 29.2 percent from the floor (19-65) shot by Siena in the home win over the Saints two games earlier. 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!: Loyola had a stretch of four consecutive games in which it allowed 60 or less points for the first time since the final four games of the 1996-97 season. In five of Loyola's eight MAAC wins, its opponent has failed to 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 February 3, senior guard Gerald Brown is ranked 73rd in scoring average and 89th in steals per game, junior guard Marquis Sullivan is ranked 50th in three-point field-goal percentage and 62nd in three-point field goals made per game, sophomore guard Brett Harvey is 7th in assist/turnover ratio and 98th in assists and senior forward Omari Isreal is 84th in blocked shots. In team statistics, the Greyhounds are 16th nationally in free-throw percentage, 68th in three-point field goals made per game and 98th in field-goal percentage defense.
BROWN TOPS 30-POINT PLATEAU: For the fourth time this season, senior guard Gerald Brown scored more than 30 points in a game when he reached that number Tuesday at Niagara. He increased his team-leading scoring average by a half-point, now checking in at 18.4 per game. Brown had made 25 consecutive free throws over his last three games before missing the first of a two-shot foul with 73 seconds left at Niagara, the successful second shot giving the Greyhounds their final lead of the game. He tied his season high with 37 minutes played and equaled his career best with five three-point field goals in the game. After failing to score double figures in two of three games, he has scored 10 or more in three straight, averaging 21.3 in that stretch while shooting 41.7 percent from the field (15-36), 50.0 percent from three-point range (8-16) and 96.3 percent from the free-throw line (26-27) while averaging 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists.
TUCK CONTINUING HIS CONSISTENT PLAY: After no games of 20 or more in the first 18 games of the season, senior forward Michael Tuck topped that number in four of five and reached double figures in seven straight before just missing with nine at Niagara. Twice during that stretch he reached his career best of 23 and Sunday at Canisius he connected on 10 field goals to match his career high. After making just 11 of 24 attempts (.458) from the free-throw line in those first 18 contests, he has made 20 of 24 (.833) in the last six games. Over those seven double-figure scoring efforts, Tuck averaged 17.4 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 61.8 percent from the floor (47-76) and 45.0 percent from three-point range (9-20).
SULLIVAN EXCELLING OFF THE BENCH: Junior guard Marquis Sullivan has taken to his renewed role off the bench. In 15 games out of the starting lineup, he has scored in double figures 11 times, including each of the last seven. At Canisius Sunday, he entered the game and made three-pointers on four consecutive possessions to give the Greyhounds a lead they would not relinquish. The third of those tied the career mark for three-pointers held by Jason Rowe (1996-2000) and the fourth at the 12:15 mark of the first half gave Sullivan the record by himself with 187. He added to that with four at Niagara. He remains second behind Rowe (540) in three-point shot attempts (466). 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 Siena 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. Sullivan was back in the starting lineup at New Jersey Institute for Gerald Brown and he scored 13 points and his 12 points Tuesday was his eighth straight game in double figures.
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 nine games ago to make room for freshman Brian Rudolph, Harvey has scored in double figures in five of the nine games. He scored nine points with seven assists and no turnovers in one game and had eight points with nine assists and no turnovers Sunday at Canisius. 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 home win over Siena. In the nine games since the move, he is averaging 11.3 points, 5.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds while playing 32.8 minutes a game and shooting 43.5 percent from the floor (27-62), 41.5 percent from three-point (17-41), and 79.5 percent from the free-throw line (31-39). 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 seven of the nine games since and 11 of the Greyhounds' 13 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. Sunday at Canisius, he played every minute of the second half and held Frank Turner to seven points on 2-17 shooting one game after the Golden Griffins' guard had scored 26 in a win over Fairfield. Oh, by the way, he also scored 11 points on 5-7 shooting and handed out five assists in that game. At Niagara, he matched his career high with 12 points and handed out seven assists while playing 37 minutes. He is averaging 8.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists while playing 31.0 minutes a game and shooting 47.9 percent from the field (23-48), 40.9 percent from three-point (9-22) and 72.4 percent from the free-throw line (21-29) in the nine 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 37 blocks is the sixth-highest season total in recorded school history and he has 58 blocks in 47 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.
GREYHOUNDS RAIN THREES: Loyola's last home game was a win over Siena in which the Greyhounds 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).
BROWN SCORES 1,000TH CAREER POINT: Senior guard Gerald Brown scored the 1,000th point if his career at Illinois and then tallied his 1,000th point at Loyola in the home win over Siena, both baskets coming on three-pointers. He now sits 25th on Loyola's all-time list for scoring. The complete list of 1,000-point scorers is listed on Page 82 of the 2007-08 Loyola Men's Basketball Media Guide.
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).
MILES LIKELY TO MISS SEASON: Junior guard Joe Miles likely will miss the remainder of the season. He suffered an injury at Fairfield, tried to play two days later at Rider and has not dressed for a game since. He played in 15 games, starting two, after sitting out last season following his transfer from Marshall University.