Nov. 2, 2005
Baltimore, Md. - With Thursday's exhibition game versus Lakehead University, the men's basketball season will unofficially be underway. The Greyhounds, who play two exhibition games (they also host Johns Hopkins on Nov. 11), begin the season at Towson on Nov. 19 with plenty of excitement and optimism.
The 2005-06 men's basketball season at Loyola College will be welcomed with more expectations than it has for quite some time. Coming off a six-win campaign in 2004-05, second-year coach Jimmy Patsos has revitalized Reitz Arena and Greyhound basketball with positive thinking and plenty of inexhaustible energy.
After taking over a program that saw just one win in 2003-04, Patsos went right to work and created a home-court atmosphere that produced wins over eventual MAAC champion Niagara and defending conference champ Manhattan. Filling Reitz with students and television cameras, Loyola basketball was back on the map with an exciting new style that had visiting teams running with the `Hounds.
After getting new uniforms and a new lockeroom in 2004-05, the renovations haven't slowed in year two for Coach Patsos. A new floor at Reitz Arena with some fresh paint on the walls has everyone excited for the winter.
Last season's top five scorers are back and will get a huge shot in the arm with University of Maryland transfers Andre Collins and Hassan Fofana eligible to play. With senior leadership from Josko Alujevic, Charlie Bell and Linton Hinds, along with the addition of four talented freshmen, which could all make immediate impacts, the Greyhounds are primed for success and are ready to challenge the league's elite.
Here is a position-by-position breakdown of the Greyhounds
When talking about Loyola's guard play, it's hard not to start with senior Andre Collins, who served his year in residence last season after transferring from Maryland. Collins, a 6-0 guard from Crisfield, Md., played on Maryland's 2002 national championship team and knows how to win. He also knows how to score and is expecting big numbers in Patsos' up-tempo system. Playing in five NCAA Tournament games himself, Collins thrives in pressure situations and will immediately become a leader among the guards.
Another guard looking to make his senior year memorable is Linton Hinds. Hampered by injury the past two seasons, Hinds managed to finish last season as the team's second-leading scorer. One of Loyola's best defenders, Hinds also had 22 steals and 30 assists in the 17 games he played in 2004-05 and despite missing 11 games, recorded career highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. With a solid summer of conditioning and basketball, Hinds could have another career year if healthy.
Junior Shane James has run the point since he arrived on campus and has led the team with 81 assists in each of his first two years. This past summer, James played for the Canadian Junior National Team at the World University Games, working on his game while gaining confidence with team success. James averaged 9.6 points per game last season and was one of Patsos' most dependable floor leaders. He should continue to flourish in the run-and-gun offense and hopes to produce All-MAAC numbers with the guard talent around him.
Probably Loyola's most productive unit over the past few years, the guard position produced last season's top three scorers. Senior Charlie Bell, who has led the team in scoring the past two seasons, is in that group. Last year, Patsos moved Bell into a new role and he didn't miss a beat. After leading the team with 15.3 points per game in 2003-04, Patsos had Bell coming off the bench to provide a spark in 2004-05. Able to lead the Greyhounds in points per game, Bell was named the MAAC Sixth Man of the Year.
Sophomore Brad Farrell proved he could get to the rim and was a valuable asset scoring off the dribble drive against slower forwards and posting up smaller guards on the block. Averaging 8.1 points per game while dishing out 66 assists, Farrell had more than a solid first year at Loyola and will continue to grow into his role this season.
Sophomore Freddie Stanback began his college career with a bang, scoring 16 points in his very first game versus Virginia Tech, and then scoring 19 in his second game versus Navy. A powerful guard at 6-5, 215, Stanback is a force on the boards and led the Greyhounds with 5.1 rebounds per game his freshman year. He also put up offensive numbers, scoring 9.6 points per game, and proved he could step outside and shoot it, connecting on 90 three-point field goals.
Sophomore Greg Manning, who earned valuable playing time his freshman year, adds depth to the all-important guard position. Playing in 21 games and starting one, Manning possesses fundamentals and shooting touch the coaches love. All the guards should get plenty of run in 2005-06. They will be asked to be coaches on the court and will have a say in how successful the year becomes.
The Greyhounds list five forwards on their roster and almost all of them can play in the backcourt and post-up down low. With the addition of several pure athletes to the unit, the forward position could make some waves as the season progresses.
Loyola's biggest addtion is junior transfer Hassan Fofana, who is listed at 6-10, 270-pounds and expects to make a difference down low this season. Eligible to play at the conclusion of the fall semester, Fofana will be a presence at both ends of the court. Still athletic enough to get up and down the floor, Fofana perfectly fits the `Hounds fast-paced style and should be a force in the MAAC.
Senior Josko Alujevic is the veteran of the group and team captain this year. Seeing increased minutes over the course of 2004-05, Alujevic saw his productivity skyrocket. His game-winning tip-in against VMI came with a career-high 12-point performance, which he matched at Manhattan in mid-February. Alujevic played for Patsos and the MAAC All-Stars in China last summer and is looking to cap his college career with more winning moments.
The return of Michael Tuck, who sat out with a redshirt last year, and the addition of freshmen Jawaan Wright and Dan Ficke will bolster the unit with raw talent and youthful enthusiasm that fit the system well. Tuck, who started 13 games for the `Hounds in 2003-04, brings good size and athleticism and will be expected to make contributions immediately. Wright, meanwhile, is a power forward at 6-8, 230, pounds while Ficke is a small forward from Englewood, Colo.
The schedule features regional non-conference opponents and a few big names in Virginia (ACC) and Providence (Big East). The year begins on the road at Charles Street rival Towson on November 19. The home opener, slated for November 27, is against another local foe in UMBC, with American visiting Reitz Arena two days later.
Maryland's longest college basketball rivalry continues at Mount Saint Mary's on December 3 before the MAAC opener at Fairfield on December 9. Non-conference games against Virginia, VMI, Delaware and Providence take the `Hounds into the New Year, where exciting television games return to Reitz Arena.
TV returned in 2004-05 and will be back in full force this season. An ESPN2 match-up with Saint Peter's on February 11 will showcase Loyola in front of a national audience, while the January 22nd game with Rider will be shown on MAAC-TV. The February 5th game at Manhattan will also be broadcast by ESPNU.
The Greyhounds will also play in this year's Bracket Buster Saturday against an opponent to be determined. That game, which is part of ESPN's package programming, will be played on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Reitz Arena.
The MAAC Championships return to Albany this year and will take place the first weekend in March. Although the focus won't change from game one to game 27, the Greyhounds are certainly looking forward to the MAAC tournament with an NCAA Tournament bid in the balance.