THE GAME: Loyola opens MAAC Championship play tonight with a First Round game against Canisius. Tonight's winner will advance into a MAAC Quarterfinal contest against top-seeded Siena on Saturday at 5 o'clock. This is the Greyhounds' 20th appearance in the MAAC Championship and they have one title, that coming in 1994.
THE SEED: Loyola has earned the eighth seed in this year's MAAC Championship after tying for seventh place in the standings with Iona at 7-11. Although the teams split the season series, the Gaels won the tie-breaker by virtue of their win over Niagara. The Greyhounds have only been seeded eighth one other time in their history, that being in 1993 when last-place Loyola lost to Manhattan in a MAAC Quarterfinal contest.
THE COACH: Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos enters his fifth season and has registered a 70-81 (.464) career record. The victory at Marist moved him into fifth place all-time in wins at Loyola and he coached his 150th career game at Loyola in the home game with Rider, fourth all-time in Greyhounds coaching annals. The 1989 Catholic graduate is 8-3 against the Golden Griffins.
THE SERIES: Canisius leads the series, 30-19, after the teams split the season series. Loyola had won five straight before the Golden Griffins left Baltimore with a 69-67 victory in February. This will be the seventh time these teams have meet in the Championship with Canisius having won five of the previous six. Loyola's only win was the first time these teams met and that was a MAAC Semifinal win over the top-seeded Golden Griffins in 1994 on the way to the Greyhounds' only MAAC title. All six of the games have been played in the building where tonight's game takes place and under both of its previous two names -- Knickerbocker Arena (1994-96), Pepsi Arena (2000, 2002, 2006). Among the Greyhounds, seniors Marquis Sullivan (nine points, four assists) and Brad Farrell (11 points, 5-7 shooting, two steals) both started the 2006 contest and assistant coach Greg Manning (one assist) saw time in a reserve role.
THE PROGRAM: Loyola will conclude its 99th recorded season of basketball when this season ends. The first season was 1908-1909 and this year the College celebrated the 100th anniversary of that first season. The Greyhounds have posted a 1126-1163 (.492) all-time record during the time.
LAST TIME OUT: Freshman forward Anthony Winbush scored a career-high 17 points and made three-pointers on each end of a second-half, game-deciding 10-point run to lead the Greyhounds to a 70-63 win at Iona, snapping Loyola's seven-game losing streak. Winbush entered the game having made just two three-pointers on the season, but finished three of four to go along with a perfect six-for-six from the free-throw line. Senior guard Marquis Sullivan made four three-pointers on his way to 14 points off the bench and junior guard Brett Harvey made all six of his foul shots en route to 10 points off the bench. The Greyhounds shot 50 percent from the floor (22-44), 56.3 percent from the three-point arc (9-16) and 85.0 percent from the free-throw line (17-20).
DEAD-EYE FROM THE FREE-THROW LINE: For the second time this season, the Greyhounds bettered the school record for free-throw shooting with their 14-14 effort in the home game against Rider. The mark entering the season was a nine-for-nine performance at Fairfield in February 2007. In December, Loyola made all 11 of its attempts against Siena to establish the record that was eclipsed against the Broncs. The Greyhounds missed on their final attempt at Drexel in the game prior to finish 18-19 and then made 17 of 20 at Iona in the regular-season finale to give Loyola a three-game aggregate of 49-53 (.925) to close out the season. For the year, the Greyhounds are shooting at a 77.2 clip which sits sixth nationally in the rankings through Sunday's games. Junior guard Brett Harvey is third in the nation at 91.4 percent, one of three players to be above 90 percent at this point in the season.
BARNEY TAKES ON SCORING LOAD: Sophomore guard Jamal Barney came to Loyola with the reputation as a scorer following his transfer from Providence College. After tallying just 66 points in his first six games, he would score in double figures in 23 of his next 24 games, including two efforts of more than 40 points and a 30-point outing. The two 40-point efforts both came during a 12-day span in January and are only the fourth and fifth such games in the 99-season history of the program. Barney also is the only Greyhounds player to have two games of 40 or better. Since he moved into the starting lineup in late November, he almost doubled his scoring average while adding two rebounds more per game. In the win over NJIT, he established school records for free throws made (18) and attempted (22) in a game. He sat out the regular-season finale at Iona, but is expected to be at full strength for the tournament games.
HARVEY FINDS ROLE AS A RESERVE: After starting 61 of 64 games during his first two seasons, junior guard Brett Harvey has found himself coming off the bench for much of the second half of the season. The Greyhounds' second-leading scorer, he has scored in double digits in 22 of the 31 games and eight of the 12 games he has come off the bench. Although he has struggled with his shot from the field compared to his first two seasons, he has been true at the foul line. One of just three players in the country to be shooting 90 percent or better through Monday's games, he has recorded perfect games of nine, 10 and 13 free throws made and attempted this season.
SULLIVAN TOPS ANOTHER CAREER CHART: Senior guard Marquis Sullivan moved to the top of another career list at Drexel when he played in his 116th career game to become the school's all-time leader in that category. He already tops the charts in three-point field goals made (278) and attempted (674). He finished his Reitz Arena career with a 17-point effort and followed that with a 14-point outing at Iona and now has 1,231 career points, good for 19th all-time. He has scored 10 or more points in six of his last seven games, averaging 12.0 points while making 46.0 percent of his shots (29-63).
RUDOLPH RECORDS SCORING, ASSISTS CAREER-HIGH: Sophomore guard Brian Rudolph ended his regular season with a bang as he recorded career highs for scoring and assists in back-to-back games. In the home finale with Rider, he scored 19 points and handed out four assists. In the season finale at Iona, he collected 12 assists while just missing his first career double-double with nine points. He has tallied double figures in four of his last nine games. In his last nine games, he is averaging 10.1 points while shooting 49.2 percent from the field (30-61) and 73.7 percent from the free-throw line (28-38), 4.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds. He made free throws in 30 of the 31 games played this season.
REID REBOUNDS OFF THE GLASS: After grabbing just one rebound in his previous outing, sophomore forward Isaac Reid matched his career-high with 14 caroms collected against Rider. He added nine points, just missing his second career double-double. The 14 boards marked the fifth time this season he has grabbed more than 10 to match the number of times he has scored more than 10. He was limited to just nine minutes at Iona after suffering a first-half eye injury.
LEWIS GIVING ENERGY LATE: Sophomore guard Tony Lewis has been identified as Loyola's "energy" guy off the bench and he has been providing that spark late in games. After seeing his minutes fall below double figures for a six-game stretch in which he did score in any of them, he has played 10 or more minutes in five of the last six and averaged 4.8 points while making 10 of his 13 shot attempts (.769). He made all three of his tries at Iona -- a baseline jumper, a jump hook and a baseline layup after receiving a bullet pass through the Gaels defense from the backcourt.
WRIGHT PROVIDING CONSISTENCY: Junior forward Jawaan Wright has provided some consistent numbers for the Greyhounds in the last nine games. He has scored 48 points while grabbing 48 rebounds in that span. During that stretch, he corralled a career-high 11 rebounds in the win at Rider and scored eight points in the game against Canisius. He has averaged 6.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in the last four games while making 12 of his 14 free-throw attempts (.857).
WINBUSH SHOWS OFFENSIVE GAME: Much acknowledged for his defensive presence which has earned him 17 starts thus far this season, freshman forward Anthony Winbush showed offensive aspect to his game to close out the regular season. One game after posting his first career double-figure scoring outing, he exploded for 17 points to lead the Greyhounds to the win at Iona. Entering that game, he had made just two three-pointers on the season before sinking three of his four attempts. Prior to scoring his 12 points against Rider, he had scored just 12 points in his previous eight games. For the two-game stretch, he averaged 14.5 points and 4.0 rebounds while making 58.8 percent from the field (10-17), 75 percent from three-point range (3-4) and all of his six free-throw attempts.
FARRELL PROVIDING LEADERSHIP: Senior forward Brad Farrell returned to the Greyhounds this season as a walk-on after two seasons away from the program. His leadership has been a key contribution in helping a team that carries 10 freshmen and sophomores on its roster. After starting the season opener, he found his niche as a reserve and then worked his way back into the starting lineup in mid-January. His only double-figure outing was a 12-point effort against Manhattan. He has played in just one of he last four games due to an injury, but has started in nine of his last 10 appearances.
FICKE CONTRIBUTES IN OTHER WAYS: After only seeing single-digit minutes since mid-January, senior forward Dan Ficke played a career-high 19 minutes at Iona and was a key contributor everywhere but the scoring column. He grabbed three rebounds and added a block and a key steal in addition to screening to free up Loyola shooters. A December graduate who is currently enrolled in Loyola's prestigious MBA program, Ficke has taken just two shots this season and has just two free throws to his credit, despite playing more than 220 minutes and earning a start at then-No. 5 Duke.
HALL GETS START: The lone eligible scholarship not to start a game this season heading into the season finale, that was corrected when freshman guard J'hared Hall took his spot on the court at the opening tip at Iona. After seeing fewer than double-digit minutes and two DNP-CD's in the last 11 games, he played 15 and 18 minutes in the two games to end the regular season and scored six total points. Earlier in the season, he scored 11 points twice in a four-game stretch.
SPREADING THE SCORING: Although sophomore guard Jamal Barney has taken much of the scoring load of late, through 31 games seven different players have posted team-high scoring honors thus far. Barney has led the team 20 times, senior guard Marquis Sullivan four times, junior guard Brett Harvey three times, sophomore Brian Rudolph twice and sophomores Tony Lewis and Isaac Reid (shared) and freshman Anthony Winbush have each done so once. Last season, only four Greyhounds posted a team high through 33 games - Gerald Brown (19 times), Sullivan (seven), Michael Tuck (five) and Harvey (twice).
TRAVELING WITH THE GREYHOUNDS: When Jimmy Patsos took the reins of the program, he made a commitment to develop the "student" part of "student-athlete" and has held to his word. Much of those teachings have come with how the Greyhounds spend their time off the court. In past years, they have attended Broadway shows and the Chicago Board of Trade as a group. This year has been no different. Already this season, the Greyhounds have had cultural lunch experience while in Boston; visited the Castro, Coit Tower and the Haight-Asbury district in addition to traveling over the Golden Gate Bridge while in San Francisco; and have viewed two Academy Award-nominated films ("Milk" and "Slumdog Millionaire"). On the basketball side, they have practiced at the University of San Francisco, Cameron Indoor Stadium and the Dean Smith Center, all of which have multiple National Championship banners hanging in their rafters.
STARTING LINEUP SUMMARY: Last season, the Greyhounds used 10 different starting lineups and 11 of 13 players received at least one starting nod during the campaign. Thus far this season, 13 different lineups have been used with 12 of 13 players starting. The only Greyhound who did not receive a start in the regular season was junior walk-on Garrett Kelly, who was ineligible the first semester.
GREYHOUNDS ON THE WEB: For all of the latest sports news on the Loyola men's basketball team and the rest of the Greyhounds athletics teams, log on to the official web site for Loyola Athletics at www.LoyolaGreyhounds.com.
NEXT TIME OUT: It is win or go home time for all of college basketball that is involved in postseason tournament play and that is the fate of the Greyhounds. A win tonight advances Loyola into Saturday's MAAC Quarterfinal against top-seeded Siena at 5 o'clock.