Feb. 21, 2008
THE GAME: Two teams headed in completely opposite directions meet this afternoon in Loyola's final non-conference game of the season and the penultimate home game of the year. The Greyhounds have won nine of 11 and defeated the two teams that were residing in first place in the MAAC standings in their last two outings. UC Davis has lost nine straight and 11 of 12, its last win coming 37 days ago.
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 55-60 (.478) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate has never coached against UC Davis. UC Davis head coach Gary Stewart is in his 15th season as a collegiate head coach and has a 193-205/192-206 (.485/.482) overall record. This is his fifth season with the Aggies and he has a 51-86/50-87 (.372/.365) record at UC Davis. He similarly has never coached against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: There are no teams that appear on the schedules of both of today's foes.
THE SERIES: Today is the first meeting of the teams. The matchup was formed from the pool of teams under consideration for the BracketBusters event and Loyola will return the game at UC Davis next season.
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 1110-1141 (.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: Freshman guard Brian Rudolph fed senior forward Omari Isreal for a layup and his career-high 10th assist to snap a 67-67 tie with 2:06 remaining and then converted a layup with the shot clock winding down with 16.5 ticks left for a four-point lead as Loyola recorded a 73-68 home MAAC win Monday night over Rider at Reitz Arena. Senior forward Michael Tuck scored 16 of his team-high 20 points in the second half as the Greyhounds overcame a 15-point deficit by shooting 57.7 percent (15-26) in the second half while holding the Broncs to 34.4 percent (11-32) shooting after Rider shot 66.7 percent (16-24) while building a 41-29 lead at the intermission. Senior guard Gerald Brown scored 16 points and stripped the ball from MAAC Preseason Player of the Year Jason Thompson with 45 seconds left to set up Rudolph's layup. Junior guard Marquis Sullivan and sophomore guard Brett Harvey split 20 points to also reach double figures.
LOYOLA PERFECT IN BRACKETBUSTERS: This is the third season that the Greyhounds have participated among the teams under consideration for selection for the BracketBusters television appearances and the second time they have hosted the game. Loyola has won both of its previous two appearances. In 2006, the Greyhounds hosted High Point and recorded a come-from-behind 77-71 victory. Last season, Loyola raced out to a 36-22 halftime lead at Tennessee State and held on for a 62-60 win.
GREYHOUNDS ASSURED OF NON-LOSING RECORD: The win Monday over Rider assured Loyola that it will finish at .500 or better and one more win will guarantee a winning record. The Greyhounds will play a minimum of 32 games - 31 in the regular season and at least one MAAC Tournament game - and now have recorded 16 victories. A 17th win will give Loyola three consecutive winning seasons for the first time since the Greyhounds posted four straight winning records between 1982-83 and 1986-87 - more than two decades ago. The 18 wins registered by last season's team was the highest total since Loyola moved to Division I and the most since the 1970-71 team finished 19-7.
LOYOLA ENJOYS HOME COOKING: Monday's home win over Rider was the ninth win for the Greyhounds in Reitz Arena against just two losses. The nine home wins are the most since the 1991-92 edition finished 9-4 in Reitz Arena. The 1984-85 team posted a 12-3 home record in the initial season of Reitz Arena for the highest win total and the 1983-84 squad posted a winning percentage of .846 with its 11-2 record in the final season of Evergreen Gym for the best home winning percentage in Division I.
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 at Siena, 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 11 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. Last year's 12 conference wins is the school record for MAAC play.
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 17, sophomore guard Brett Harvey is eighth in assist/turnover ratio and 88th in free-throw percentage, junior guard Marquis Sullivan is ranked 52nd in three-point field-goal percentage and 82nd in three-point field goals made per game, senior guard Gerald Brown is ranked 53rd in scoring average and senior forward Omari Isreal is 72nd in blocked shots. In team statistics, the Greyhounds are seventh nationally in free-throw percentage, 57th in three-point field goals made per game, 108th in field-goal percentage defense, 108th in three-point field-goal percentage and 108th in assists per game.
RUDOLPH NAMED MAAC ROW FOR THIRD STRAIGHT WEEK AND FIFTH OVERALL: Freshman guard Brian Rudolph picked up his fifth MAAC Rookie of the Week award February 18, the third straight week he has been honored. In the only game under consideration, an overtime victory at first-place Siena, the 5-11 guard scored a career-high 15 points and matched his career best with eight rebounds while handing out five assists. It was during the extra session that won him the award as he scored seven straight points and nine total to dominate the overtime and lead Loyola to the win. Rudolph shared the award with Fairfield's Warren Edney. His five ROW is the top total in the league and all five have come on conference weekends.
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 (927) and 500 rebounds (580). He has scored in double digits in 10 of his last 12 games with a stretch of four 20-plus outings over five games during that span and five total games of 20 or more. Loyola has won nine of the 11 games he has taken more than 10 shots, including each of the last six. After starting the year making just 11 of his first 24 free-throw attempts (.458), he has made 31 of his last 36 (.861) over the last 10 games.
BROWN HAS EXPLOSIVE WEEK: Senior guard Gerald Brown found his scoring touch from February 5-10, 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 1,172 points in 57 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.
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 and followed that with 10 points in the Rider win for his fourth straight contest in double digits. Those efforts 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 15.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists over 32.8 minutes per game while shooting 48.6 percent from the floor (17-35), 50.0 percent from three-point range (10-20) and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line (18-21) over his last four games.
RUDOLPH RESPONDS TO STARTING ROLE: Freshman guard Brian Rudolph was moved back into the starting lineup at Fairfield and has responded. Loyola has won 10 of the 13 games since and 14 of the Greyhounds' 16 wins have come with Rudolph in the starting lineup. He is the three-time reigning MAAC Rookie of the Week and has won the award five times, all of those coming during conference play. He has reached double figures in scoring in four of the last six games, grabbed a career-high eight rebounds with seven assists and no turnovers while not taking a shot from the floor in a fifth game and scored eight points with a career-high 10 assists in the sixth. 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 5.8 assists while playing 32.5 minutes a game and shooting 48.6 percent from the field (36-74), 36.7 percent from three-point (11-30) and 76.7 percent from the free-throw line (33-43) in the 13 games since returning to the starting lineup.
ISREAL CONTINUES SOLID PLAY AT HOME: Senior forward Omari Isreal has taken advantage of his home surroundings of late. 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 then scored nine points with two blocks against Rider. Over his last five games, he has averaged 30.8 minutes played, 9.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks while shooting 62.5 percent (20-32) from the floor. His 48 blocks this season is the third-best Greyhounds single-season total on record and he has 69 career blocks in 51 games. He has been impressive in games played at Reitz Arena, averaging 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds in 20 career home games while helping the Greyhounds to a 15-5 record in those games. This season, he has averaged 9.1 points and 5.7 boards in 11 games at Reitz.
SULLIVAN EXCELLING OFF THE BENCH: Junior guard Marquis Sullivan has taken to his renewed role off the bench. In 19 games out of the starting lineup, he has scored in double figures 15 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 197. He remains second behind Rowe (540) in three-point shot attempts (485). In 11 home games, he has reached double digits nine times - scoring nine in a 10th outing - and is averaging 12.6 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field (50-106) and 46.4 percent from three-point range (32-69). 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. He enters today 103 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 4.0 rebounds while playing 12.4 minutes over the last seven games.