March 10, 2009
Baltimore, Md. - After losing more than 3,000 career points and 1,500 career rebounds from a team that established a Division I school record for victories in 2007-2008, Loyola men's basketball fifth-year coach Jimmy Patsos would often refer to the 2008-2009 edition as "my young team". Entering the season with a roster that included 10 sophomores and freshmen and only one senior and one junior with any significant experience, it was anticipated that the campaign would be one of transition as the group headed out against one of the most ambitious schedules in the country.
The Greyhounds opened the season with four games in the first five days of play due to a commitment to the NIT Season Tip-Off. Loyola played seven games in November, including five straight away from Reitz Arena. All five losses came to teams that reached postseason tournaments: Mount St. Mary's (Collegeinsider.com), Boston College (NCAA), Cornell (NCAA), Davidson (NIT) and Vermont (CBI).
December didn't open any kinder as Loyola opened conference play hosting the two teams that eventually played for the MAAC Championship (Siena and Niagara). The Greyhounds were able to bookend wins at home over Coppin State and at UC Davis around final exams before ending the month with a two-point loss at North Carolina State and an ESPN2 national television appearance at then-No. 5 Duke.
January opened with promise after a 24-point win at Canisius, but three straight conference losses followed. With a record of 5-12 more than halfway through the season, the Greyhounds went on a six-game winning streak that included road wins at Manhattan, Marist and Rider. With one month remaining to the season and a record only one game below .500, optimism was high as February approached.
But shooting woes plagued Loyola during the year's shortest month and the losses piled up as the Greyhounds dropped all seven games, including four straight home contests. Despite playing the regular-season finale without leading scorer Jamal Barney, Loyola was able to end the slide with a win at Iona to tie for seventh place in the final conference standings.
Seeded eighth in the MAAC Championship, the shooting woes plagued the Greyhounds in their First Round game with Canisius, losing 74-68 while shooting just 32 percent for the game. The season ended with a final record of 12-20, but it was not without some memorable moments and superlative individual performances:
The Greyhounds finished with a school record for free-throw percentage in a season at 77.6 percent. Loyola shot 92.8 percent (64-69) from the foul line in its final four games and finished ranked fifth nationally in the category.
Included in that four-game stretch was a perfect 14-for-14 effort against Rider in the home finale to better the school record that was set in December after an 11-for-11 performance at home against Siena.
Sophomore guard Jamal Barney established school records for free throws made and attempted when he went 18-for-22 from the foul line in the home win over New Jersey Institute. He finished that game with 40 points, giving him two 40-point outings in 12 days on the heels of scoring 41 points at Canisius. He is the only player in Greyhounds history to own two 40-point outings. He made 15 field goals in the game against the Golden Griffins, equaling the third-best total in school history. He finished with 561 points for the 15th highest single-season total at the school and his 207 field goals made are 14th best.
Junior guard Brett Harvey tied for the school's sixth-highest single-game total when he made six three-pointers during a 34-point effort in the home win over Tennessee State. He finished the season with 896 points, good for 35th all-time.
Junior forward Jawaan Wright blocked five shots at Vermont to equal the 10th-best effort in school history. His 29 blocks on the season are the ninth-best single-season effort in school history and helped the team to a total of 107 blocks for the year which is the third-highest total ever by a Greyhounds team.
Harvey's 13-for-13 marksmanship from the foul line in the home game with Niagara tied for the second-best single-game performance in school history. He finished the season tops in all of Division I for free-throw percentage and his 91.0 percent is the second-best single-season effort at the school.
Loyola won its first-ever game on an opponent's home floor in the Pacific time zone when it scored the 14th highest point total in school history in a 95-89 win at UC Davis. The Greyhounds were 1-10 all-time on the West Coast before the game with the only win being a neutral-court victory in December 1995.
Harvey's 35-footer at the buzzer tied the game at Marist and the Greyhounds won it in overtime, giving the Loyola a sweep of the Red Foxes and its first win in Poughkeepsie in a decade. Loyola is unbeaten in its last six overtime contests, five of those under Patsos.
When senior guard Marquis Sullivan appeared at Drexel, he became the school's all-time leader in games played. He finished his career topping the school charts with 119 games played, 281 three-point field goals made and 687 three-point field goals attempted. Earlier in the season, he scored the 1,000th point of his career and he ended up 19th all-time with 1,242 career points.
Sophomore guard Brian Rudolph handed out a career-high 12 assists in the road win at Iona which tied for the second-best single-game effort in school history. He also made all eight of his free-throw attempts in the finale against Canisius, ending the year making 23 of 25 from the line (.920) after being just a 69-percent shooter prior to the final six games.
With the win at Iona, the Greyhounds completed a road sweep of Manhattan and Iona for just the second time in school history with each of those coming in the last three years.
Four players participated in all 32 games - Harvey, Rudolph, Winbush and sophomore forward Isaac Reid. That ties them for 11th all-time in games played in a season, one shy of the school record of 33 games.