THE GAME: Both teams lost their last outing and are on down slides, Loyola having dropped three straight and Iona having lost four of five. Having not played yet this season despite each completing series with six of the conference foes, the teams will meet twice in the next four league outings. They will meet again to close out the regular season on March 1 in New Rochelle, N.Y.
THE COACHES: Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos enters his fifth season and has registered a 69-77 (.473) career record. The victory at Marist moved him into fifth place all-time in wins at Loyola. The 1989 Catholic graduate is 4-4 against the Gaels. Iona head coach Kevin Willard is in his second season with the Gaels and sports a 23-34 (.403) career record at the school. The 1997 Pittsburgh graduate is 1-1 against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: Outside of conference foes, there are no teams that appear on the schedules of both teams. Both teams won games at Canisius and at home over Marist and lost games at Fairfield, Siena and at home to Niagara. Loyola won games at Manhattan, Marist and Rider and at home over Saint Peter's while the Gaels lost in all of those situations. Iona won at Niagara and in home games over Fairfield and Manhattan while the Greyhounds lost in all of those games.
THE SERIES: Iona leads the series, 36-10, although Loyola has won three of the last four and three of four in Reitz Arena. The Gaels won 17 straight before the arrival of current head coach Jimmy Patsos. The last time these teams met in Baltimore, the Greyhounds put together a 30-8 stretch that spanned both halves to turn a 22-14 deficit into a 44-30 lead and made seven of eight free throws over the final 85 seconds to seal the 63-51 win. Guard Brian Rudolph came off the bench to make 10 of 12 free throws and his only attempt for the field for 12 points while the starting backcourt of Marquis Sullivan (nine points) and Brett Harvey (eight) combined for 17 points.
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 1125-1159 (.493) all-time record during the time.
LAST TIME OUT: Two Saints posted double-doubles and Loyola's shooting woes continued as the Greyhounds feel at MAAC-leader Siena Monday night in the Times Union Center, 73-60. The Saints used an 11-2 run to snap an 18-all tie in the first half and Loyola could not get closer than five points the rest of the game. Sophomore guard Jamal Barney scored 19 points and collected four steals and senior guard Marquis Sullivan scored 15 points and matched the four thefts for the Greyhounds, which recorded 16 steals in the game. Sophomore guard Brian Rudolph came off the bench to score 13 points with five assists and three steals.
THE THIEVES WERE IN THE HOUSE: Despite the loss Monday night at Siena, the Greyhounds were successful in one aspect of their game plan as they forced the Saints into 19 turnovers and turned 16 of those into steals. The 16 thefts tied for the fifth-highest total in school history and are the most since Loyola recorded 16 at UMBC in a 77-71 win on November 20, 1999. Senior guard Marquis Sullivan and sophomore guard Jamal Barney each collected a career-high four steals and sophomore guard Brian Rudolph added three as seven different Greyhounds were credited with thefts. Sullivan twice cleanly picked the pocket of MAAC Preseason Player of the Year Kenny Hasbrouck in the backcourt and turned the plays into easy Loyola layups. It was the second straight game with double-figures in steals and the Greyhounds also blocked six shots for the second consecutive contest.
LOYOLA RECEIVES BRACKETBUSTER OPPONENT: The Greyhounds will 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, Drexel won the last outing when these teams met by a 54-52 score in the Philly Hoops Group Classic Liberty Bracket Championship Game at the Palestra. The Greyhounds lead the overall series, 4-3. 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 14 games in which opponents are making just 23.7 percent (45-190) from three-point territory. Twice the Greyhounds have pitched a three-point shutout and four other times only one three-point shot was successful. 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 19 of the 20 contests that followed, the only blip being an eight-point outing at Duke. In 12 of those 20, 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 (18.8 ppg), having raised his scoring average 9.0 points since going scoreless in a November game against Cornell. Through games of February 8, he is ranked 43rd nationally in scoring. He also is averaging 5.5 rebounds, lifting his average 2.0 boards per outing since that game with the Big Red. Since he moved into the starting lineup 22 games ago, he is averaging 20.5 points and 5.9 rebounds a game while shooting 42.5 percent from the floor (166-391) and 78.3 percent from the free-throw line (94-120). In 17 of those 22 starts, he has scored in double figures after the intermission and more than 15 points seven of those 17 times. He boasts a 12.2 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. He needs 12 points to record the 23rd season of 500 points or better.
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 164 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 eight of nine at Rider. Twice against the Red Foxes, he was fouled on a three-point shot attempts and made all three free throws and then did it again at Rider. Through games of February 8, he is ranked third nationally in free-throw percentage and is one of eight 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 13.0 points over his last 13 games.
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 four of his last seven games and did not miss a shot from the field en route to 12 points in the win at Rider. He also grabbed seven rebounds against the Broncs. He is averaging 8.0 points, 4.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 45.1 percent (41-91) from the floor in the 17 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 and then made five three-pointers for the fourth time this season against Manhattan. He cracked the Top 20 in career scoring with his 15 points Saturday and now has 1,177 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 5 with his appearance at Siena.
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 remained until Monday. Playing a season-high 28 minutes against the Jaspers, he made three field goals for a six points and added three rebounds, one assist and a steal. He started seven 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. Saturday against Manhattan, he posted his first double-digit scoring effort with 12 points, including a perfect four of four from the free-throw line. He added five rebounds, three assists, three steals and a blocked shot.
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 eight games, averaging 2.1 points and 4.8 rebounds while averaging 18.4 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.
NEXT TIME OUT: The Greyhounds are back home again Monday night for the penultimate game in Reitz Arena this season when they host Canisius at 7 o'clock. After playing at Drexel on February 21 in the final non-conference game of the season, Loyola will have its Senior Night on Thursday, February 26 when it hosts Rider. Seniors Marquis Sullivan, Dan Ficke and Brad Farrell along with senior manager Will McBride will be honored prior to the 7 o'clock tip.