Feb. 14, 2008
THE GAME: The Greyhounds continue a stretch of playing teams in the upper half of the MAAC when they visit Siena this afternoon. The Saints have won three straight after losing to Rider on national television two weeks ago with two of those wins against Marist when Siena played the Red Foxes in back-to-back outings. Loyola has dropped two of three as Niagara snapped the Greyhounds' six-game winning streak with a home win and then defeated Loyola six days later in Baltimore.
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 53-60 (.469) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate has a 4-3 record against the Saints. Siena head coach Fran McCaffery is in his third season with the Saints and has a 51-33 (.607) record. The 1982 Pennsylvania graduate is in his 12th season as a head coach and has a 190-159 (.544) career record, including a 2-3 mark against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: There are no teams outside of MAAC teams that appear on the schedules of both teams. Among "like" games within the conference, both teams posted home wins over Iona, Manhattan, Marist and Saint Peter's and won at Canisius and Fairfield and both teams lost home games to Fairfield. The Saints won games at Iona, Niagara and Rider while Loyola suffered losses at all three locations.
THE SERIES: Siena leads, 30-14, although the Greyhounds have won the last three. The teams split four games prior to matchups when sharing a conference affiliation. The teams competed together in the ECAC Metro Conference (1981-84) before Siena departed for the North Atlantic Conference and together they joined the MAAC for the 1989-90 season. Loyola's 85-56 home win last month equaled the Greyhounds' longest winning streak in the series.
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 1108-1141 (.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's Charron Fisher poured in a Reitz Arena-record 45 points to lead the Purple Eagles to a 92-87 road victory and a sweep over the Greyhounds on the season. Fisher scored 25 first-half points as Niagara shot 69.0 percent to build a 55-43 halftime lead. Loyola briefly held the lead in the second half, but Stanley Hodge's four points and three from Fisher led a 7-0 Purple Eagles run to snap an 81-81 tie with 3:07 remaining and take control of the game. Senior guard Gerald Brown finished with 29 points and sophomore guard Brett Harvey tallied all 20 of his points in the second half to match his career high.
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 10, senior guard Gerald Brown is ranked 42nd in scoring average, junior guard Marquis Sullivan is ranked 59th in three-point field-goal percentage and 74th in three-point field goals made per game, sophomore guard Brett Harvey is 8th in assist/turnover ratio and senior forward Omari Isreal is 78th in blocked shots. In team statistics, the Greyhounds are eighth nationally in free-throw percentage, 56th in three-point field goals made per game, 106th in field-goal percentage defense and 104th in assists per game.
RUDOLPH NAMED MAAC ROW FOR FOURTH TIME AND SECOND STRAIGHT WEEK: Freshman guard Brian Rudolph picked up his fourth MAAC Rookie of the Week award on Monday, the second straight week he has been honored. The 5-11 guard contributed in a different way in each of the three outings during the week. At Niagara, he matched his career high with 12 points while handing out seven assists with just one turnover. In the win over Saint Peter's, he did not take a shot from the floor, but grabbed a career-best eight rebounds with seven assists and no turnovers. He topped his career high with 14 points in the Niagara rematch and added five assists without a turnover. For the week, he averaged 9.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists. He played 107 of a possible 120 minutes with 19 assists and just one turnover. His four ROW awards equals the four honors received by Marist's Jay Gavin and all four of Rudolph's awards have come on conference weekends.
BROWN HAS EXPLOSIVE WEEK: Senior guard Gerald Brown found his scoring touch last week, tallying 92 points in the three games over the six-day period to raise his scoring average one-and-a-half points from 17.9 to 19.4. After scoring just eight points in the win at Manhattan, it was expected that he would rest an injury at New Jersey Institute. Sent into the lineup to start the second half against the Highlanders, he played the entire 20 minutes, scoring 16 points. He scored 16 second-half points among his 18 in the win at Canisius, setting up his current stretch. His 30-point outing at Niagara was his first 30-plus effort in two months and he followed that two days later with 33 to match his career-best in the home win over Saint Peter's. In Sunday's rematch with the Purple Eagles, he scored 29. In five games against Niagara over the last two years, he has averaged 28.4 points while making 91.5 percent from the free-throw line (43-47). He recently broke into the top 20 all-time in scoring at Loyola in just 55 career games with 1,147 points. His numbers from the three-game scoring spree are a 30.7 scoring average while shooting 45.6 percent from the field (26-57), 44.0 percent from three-point range (11-25) and 80.6 percent from the free-throw line (29-36).
HARVEY REFINDS SCORING TOUCH: Sophomore guard Brett Harvey has relocated the scoring touch that evaded him for a recent three-game stretch. Shifted to the starter at shooting guard 11 games ago to make room for freshman point guard Brian Rudolph, Harvey responded with a career-high 20 points in that win at Fairfield. After scoring nine with seven assists and no turnovers at Rider in the next game, he reached double figures in the next four, averaging 13.3 points in the stretch. Over the final three games of the four-game road swing, he made just four of 14 field goals (28.6 percent) to score just 20 points, although he handed out 16 assists against just two turnovers. He has scored double digits in the last two, including matching his career-best by scoring all 20 of his points against Niagara in the second half. He is averaging 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists while shooting 56.3 percent from the floor (9-16), 66.7 percent from three-point range (4-6) and 84.6 percent from the charity stripe (11-13) while playing 33.0 minutes in his last two games.
ISREAL CONTINUES SOLID PLAY AT HOME: Senior forward Omari Isreal took advantage of his home surroundings again over last weekend. After setting a career-high with five blocks to go along with six points and five rebounds against Saint Peter's, he scored 13 points with seven rebounds against Niagara. Over his last three games, he has averaged 30.3 minutes played, 9.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while shooting 54.2 percent (13-24) from the floor. His 43 blocks this season is the fifth-best Greyhounds single-season total on record and he has 64 career blocks in 49 games. He has been impressive in games played at Reitz Arena, averaging 9.9 points and 6.6 rebounds in 19 career home games while helping the Greyhounds to a 14-5 record in those games. This season, he has averaged 9.1 points and 6.2 boards in 10 games at Reitz.
RUDOLPH RESPONDS TO STARTING ROLE: Freshman guard Brian Rudolph was moved back into the starting lineup at Fairfield and has responded. Loyola has won eight of the 11 games since and 12 of the Greyhounds' 14 wins have come with Rudolph in the starting lineup. He is the two-time reigning MAAC Rookie of the Week and has won the award four times, all of those coming during conference play. He has reached double figures in scoring in three of the last four games and grabbed a career-high eight rebounds with seven assists and no turnovers while not taking a shot from the floor in the fourth game. He is averaging 8.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists while playing 31.7 minutes a game and shooting 46.6 percent from the field (27-58), 40.0 percent from three-point (10-25) and 76.3 percent from the free-throw line (29-38) in the 11 games since returning to the starting lineup.
TUCK SEEING LIMITED TOUCHES: 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 missing with nine at Niagara. In all four of the 20-plus outings, he recorded 10 or more field-goal attempts. He has failed to reach that total in the last three games, scoring more than 10 just once with his 11 points against Saint Peter's. With eight more points, he will become the 32nd player in Loyola recorded history to reach 900 career points and will be just the seventh player to have more than 900 points and 500 rebounds.
SULLIVAN EXCELLING OFF THE BENCH: Junior guard Marquis Sullivan has taken to his renewed role off the bench. In 17 games out of the starting lineup, he has scored in double figures 13 times, including a stretch of eight games that was snapped Sunday against Niagara. At Canisius, 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 now has 194. He remains second behind Rowe (540) in three-point shot attempts (477). In 10 home games, he has reached double digits eight times - scoring nine in a ninth outing - and is averaging 12.9 points while shooting 47.9 percent from the field (46-96) and 46.2 percent from three-point range (30-65). 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 to make his latest stretch nine straight in double figures.
FOFANA PLAYS SEASON HIGH 20 MINUTES: Senior center Hassan Fofana played a season-high 20 minutes Sunday and has seen his minutes increase gradually as he continues his recovery from an injury suffered in December. In those 20 minutes, he made his only field goal, grabbed five rebounds, handed out two assists and blocked two shots. He is averaging 4.4 rebounds while playing 12.8 minutes over the last five games.