Nov. 21, 2007
Philadelphia, Pa. - Its three-game winning streak snapped Tuesday night at Seton Hall, Loyola returns to the court for two games in two days at the Palestra as part of a commitment to the Philly Hoop Group Classic, an inaugural eight-team event that featured games on campus sites and now culminates with contests in Philadelphia. The Greyhounds take on Howard Friday at noon and will play either Drexel or Robert Morris on Saturday as part of the Liberty Bracket.
Tuesday's loss means Loyola enters the final two games of the event with a 1-1 record with two more contests to play. The Greyhounds defeated Pennsylvania, 89-68, in the home opener on November 11, starting a three-game winning streak. That stretch was snapped by the Pirates' pressure defense, forcing 19 Loyola turnovers in the 94-80 Seton Hall win.
Loyola is one of four members of the field to split its first two contests. Only Seton Hall and Virginia swept its pair of games as each received a pair of home contests. Both Howard and Robert Morris were scheduled for two road games and were able to split those as the Bison won at Pennsylvania and the Colonials won at Navy. Those two home losers are the only two winless teams among the octet and are on course to meet Saturday night, assuming form holds and the two undefeated teams dispatch of those two to set up a battle of 3-0 teams to close out the event.
The Greyhounds enter Friday with four double-figure scorers led by senior guard Gerald Brown at 19.4 points per outing. The nation's third-leading returning scorer after scoring 22.2 points a game last season, Brown has been hobbled with a knee injury and sandwiched 32- and 18-point efforts around a three-point performance in a win over Vermont.
The only Loyola player to score in double digits in all five games thus far, junior guard Marquis Sullivan has averaged 3.6 three-pointers per contest in averaging 15.8 points per game. He is shooting 53.8 percent from the floor (28-52) and 50.0 percent from long range (18-36) while serving as the first option off the Greyhounds' bench.
An equally proficient marksman is senior forward Michael Tuck. The school's all-time leader in field-goal percentage, Tuck made seven of nine shots at Seton Hall and is connecting on 56.0 percent of his shots (28-50) en route to a 13.2 points-per-game average. He is also the team leader with 5.6 rebounds an outing.
Also torching the nets through five games is senior forward Omari Isreal. The fourth double-figure scorer at 10.0 points per game, Isreal is making 55.9 percent from the floor (19-34) and 80.0 percent from the free-throw line (12-15). More than half (14) of his 27 rebounds have come off the offensive glass and he has recorded seven blocks.
The starting backcourt of sophomore Brett Harvey and freshman Brian Rudolph will be looking forward to not facing the kind of full-court pressure they experienced Tuesday at Seton Hall. Harvey has not let it affect his shooting, as he has made 52.9 percent from the field (9-17) and a sparkling 72.7 percent from three-point range, connecting on eight of 11 shots from long range.
Curiously, despite almost a century of men's basketball history, this weekend will mark the first time that Loyola will play at the fabled arena, one of the most prolific in the annals of college basketball.
Following this stretch of four games in seven days, Loyola will go a week before its next contest, traveling to Mount St. Mary's on December 1 for the annual battle with the Mountaineers.