BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Loyola University Maryland men’s basketball was picked to finish seventh in a poll of Patriot League coaches and sports information personnel, the conference announced Thursday at its annual media day at ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks.
The Greyhounds received 73 votes in a tightly bunched poll that saw Lehigh University draw 12 first-place votes and top honors entering the 2015-2016 season. The Mountain Hawks were followed by Bucknell University, Boston University, the U.S. Military Academy, American University and defending Patriot League champion Lafayette College.
Loyola pulled in 23 more points than eighth-place College of the Holy Cross, and the final two spots were taken by Colgate University and the U.S. Naval Academy.
The Greyhounds, who finished last year with a 7-11 Patriot League record and 11-19 overall mark, return 90 percent of their scoring from a season ago. Graduated guard Denzel Brito is the only player who saw significant playing time in 2014-2015 to no longer be with the program.
Eric Laster leads three players who averaged 10.2 points per game last year and is Loyola’s top returning scorer (10.9 points per game). Tyler Hubbard was just behind Laster in scoring (10.8), while Andre Walker (10.2) also topped double figures in scoring average.
The return of Jarred Jones will bolster the Greyhounds’ frontcourt, as well. Jones, who averaged 8.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in 2013-2014, missed all by the first two games of last year with injuries.
Franz Rassman, a senior who posted marks of 8.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season, will join Jones in the post.
Cam Gregory, who averaged 7.0 rebounds, third-most in the Patriot League, as a freshman in 2014-2015, and Chancellor Barnard will provide a deep frontline for Loyola. Barnard led the team in blocked shots (26) a year ago. Gregory and Walker both earned Patriot League All-Rookie Team honors in their first seasons at Loyola.
The Greyhounds open the 2015-2016 campaign with an exhibition game against McGill University, a top Canadian team from Montreal, on Thursday, Nov. 5. Just over a week later, Loyola hosts Tennessee State University on the season’s opening night in a 7 o’clock tipoff on Friday, Nov. 13.