First-Place Rider In Reitz Tonight For Key MAAC Game

Feb. 18, 2008

THE GAME: Having knocked off one of the first-place teams Saturday at Siena, Loyola hosts the other tonight when the Broncs come to town. The Greyhounds have won eight of their last 10 and have pulled within one game of first place in the standings. Rider has dropped two straight after winning 10 consecutively and is playing its last road league contest, having won six of the eight thus far.

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 54-60 (.474) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate has a 4-3 record against the Broncs. Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey is in his third season with the Broncs and has a 42-43 (.494) record. The 1997 Susquehanna graduate is in his eighth season as a head coach and has a 130-55 (.703) career record, including a 1-4 mark against the Greyhounds.

THE TEAMS: Outside of conference opponents, both teams defeated New Jersey Institute and lost to Drexel. Among MAAC foes, both teams posted home wins over Iona and Manhattan and won at Canisius, Manhattan, Saint Peter's and Siena. Both teams lost at Niagara. Loyola won its home games with Marist and Siena and won at Fairfield while the Broncs lost when they played those similar games. Rider won at Iona and at home over Niagara while the Greyhounds suffered a defeat in New Rochelle and when they hosted the Purple Eagles.

THE SERIES: Rider leads, 19-11, and snapped a four-game Greyhounds winning streak when these teams met last month. After alternating wins and losses in the first six matchups, streaks have been the norm since these teams began meeting as members of Division I. The four-game Loyola winning streak that was broken in January came on the heels of a six-game Broncs winning stretch.

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 1109-1141 (.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: Senior guard Greg Manning came off the bench cold with 16 seconds remaining in regulation and drained a three-pointer eight seconds later to knot the game and send it to overtime and freshman guard Brian Rudolph dominated the extra session with seven straight points to give Loyola an eight-point lead en route to an 83-76 overtime victory at Siena. Rudolph scored nine points after regulation and finished with a career-high 15 to go along with five assists and a career-matching eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Brett Harvey led Loyola with 19 points and senior forward Michael Tuck posted his fourth double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

GREYHOUNDS WORK OVERTIME: The win Saturday at Siena was the first overtime game for Loyola this season and was the Greyhounds' fifth straight overtime victory dating back to January 2002. Loyola's last road overtime contest was also played at the Times Union Center in January 2007 when the Greyhounds left Albany with a 94-87 victory over the Saints. Loyola went to overtime in its next outing that followed, a 96-95 home win over Niagara at Reitz Arena.

LOYOLA CLINCHES FIRST-ROUND BYE: With their win Saturday, the Greyhounds have clinched a bye into the quarterfinals of the conference tournament and will play their first game on Saturday, March 8. This is the second straight year Loyola has been able to receive a bye out of the first round. Loyola's 10 wins also assures the Greyhounds a winning conference record for the fifth time ever and marks the fourth time in 19 years that Loyola has won 10 or more MAAC games.

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 14, senior guard Gerald Brown is ranked 43rd in scoring average, junior guard Marquis Sullivan is ranked 55th in three-point field-goal percentage and 72nd in three-point field goals made per game, sophomore guard Brett Harvey is 10th in assist/turnover ratio and 99th in free-throw percentage and senior forward Omari Isreal is 76th in blocked shots. In team statistics, the Greyhounds are eighth nationally in free-throw percentage, 60th in three-point field goals made per game, 101st in field-goal percentage defense and 108th in assists per game.

HARVEY REFINDS SCORING TOUCH: Sophomore guard Brett Harvey has relocated the scoring touch that evaded him for a recent three-game stretch. He tallied 19 points while playing 43 minutes to lead the Greyhounds in the overtime win at Siena for his third straight contest in double digits. That came after matching his career-high with 20 points - all in the second half - against Niagara. He first scored 20 at Fairfield when he was shifted to the starter at shooting guard to make room for freshman point guard Brian Rudolph. He is averaging 17.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists over 36.3 minutes per game while shooting 50.0 percent from the floor (14-28), 53.8 percent from three-point range (7-13) and 89.5 percent from the free-throw line (17-19).

TUCK RECORDS FOURTH DOUBLE-DOUBLE: Senior forward Michael Tuck collected his fourth double-double of the season and the ninth of his career with 15 points and 11 rebounds in the overtime win at Siena. He played 44 of the possible 45 minutes in the game. His 15 points boosted him above 900 for his career, making him the seventh Greyhounds player to reach 900 career points (907) and 500 rebounds (571). He has scored in double digits in nine of his last 11 games with a stretch of four 20-plus outings over five games during that span. Loyola has won eight of the 10 games he has take more than 10 shots, including each of the last five.

RUDOLPH RESPONDS TO STARTING ROLE: Freshman guard Brian Rudolph was moved back into the starting lineup at Fairfield and has responded. Loyola has won nine of the 12 games since and 13 of the Greyhounds' 15 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 four of the last five 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. His 15 points at Siena was a career high and he scored nine of those in the overtime, including seven straight to build an eight-point lead. He added eight rebounds to match his career best and also handed out five assists. He is averaging 8.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists while playing 32.0 minutes a game and shooting 48.5 percent from the field (32-66), 40.7 percent from three-point (11-27) and 76.7 percent from the free-throw line (33-43) in the 12 games since returning to the starting lineup.

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. 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 the 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 and is 19th with 1,156 points in 56 career games. His numbers from that 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). He tallied just nine before fouling out in the win at Siena, the fourth game this season he has failed to reach double figures. Loyola has won all four of those contests.

ISREAL CONTINUES SOLID PLAY AT HOME: Senior forward Omari Isreal took advantage of his home surroundings again 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 four games, he has averaged 30.3 minutes played, 9.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting 59.3 percent (16-27) from the floor. His 46 blocks this season is the fourth-best Greyhounds single-season total on record and he has 67 career blocks in 50 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.

SULLIVAN EXCELLING OFF THE BENCH: Junior guard Marquis Sullivan has taken to his renewed role off the bench. In 18 games out of the starting lineup, he has scored in double figures 14 times, including a stretch of eight games that was snapped 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 195. He remains second behind Rowe (540) in three-point shot attempts (481). 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. In five career games against Rider, he has scored in double figures in all five, averaging 15.0 with a high of 24 in making all six of his three-point attempts when these teams last met at Reitz Arena. He enters today 113 points away from 1,000 for his career.

MANNING'S THREE SENDS SIENA GAME TO OVERTIME: Senior guard Greg Manning entered the game for the first time with 16 seconds remaining and the Greyhounds down three and eight seconds later he swished a baseline jumper from in front of the Loyola bench to knot the score and send the contest to overtime. He later played a pair of three-second segments in an offense-defense switch and converted both shots of a two-shot foul for five points in just 14 seconds. His last three-pointer prior to that shot was Loyola's 18th of the game against the Saints to complete a school record. Earlier this season he scored 10 points in 11 minutes at then No. 3 Kansas.

FOFANA PLAYS SEASON HIGH 20 MINUTES: Senior center Hassan Fofana played a season-high 20 minutes in the home Niagara game 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 4.2 rebounds while playing 12.8 minutes over the last six games.