Dec. 26, 2007
THE GAME: Each of tonight's opponents are coming off six-day layoffs, both having played last Saturday. Loyola dropped a 91-74 decision at Dayton, its fifth loss this season on an opponent's home floor. The Greyhounds are unbeaten at Reitz Arena. Illinois grabbed a wild 59-58 victory over Missouri in St. Louis. Loyola returns to Baltimore to return to MAAC play next weekend while the Fighting Illini are in the midst of a stretch of nine straight games on either its home floor or a neutral site. Illinois has not played on an opponents' floor since losing at Maryland on November 28.
THE COACHES: Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos is in his fourth season and has registered a 44-54 (.449) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate has never coached against Fighting Illini. Illinois head coach Bruce Weber is in his fifth season with the Fighting Illini and has a 119-32 (.788) record at the school. The 1978 Wisconsin-Milwaukee graduate is in his 10th season as a head coach, recording a 222-86 (.721) mark. Including his five seasons at Southern Illinois, he has never coached against Loyola.
THE TEAMS: No teams on the schedules of tonight's opponents reside on the other's, although Illinois' opposition Sunday, Tennessee State, was Loyola's opponent in the BracketBusters event last February and the teams will meet next November at Reitz Arena in the return game.
THE SERIES: Despite histories that combine for more than 200 seasons of men's basketball, these teams have never faced each other. Loyola has competed against teams representing the Big Ten six times and has suffered six straight defeats. Two of those losses came last year when the Greyhounds played at Northwestern and Michigan State on a trip between Christmas and New Year's. Loyola played Penn State four times between the 1996-97 and 2000-01 seasons, losing all four.
THE PROGRAM: Loyola is playing its 98th recorded season of basketball this season. The first season was 1908-09 and the Greyhounds have posted a 1100-1135 (.492) all-time record.
LAST TIME OUT: Dayton scored 12 straight points over five minutes to take a 14-4 lead six minutes into the game and Loyola could get no closer than seven the rest of the game as the Flyers won their ninth straight with a 91-74 victory Saturday night at UD Arena. Junior guard Marquis Sullivan led the Greyhounds with 15 points while classmate Joe Miles scored 14 points with five assists and three steals off the bench. Senior guard Gerald Brown added 12 points and freshman forward Isaac Reid collected a career- and team-high seven rebounds off the bench.
CLOSING OUT 2007: Tonight marks the final contest of 2007. Loyola finished up the home portion of the calendar year with a 10-3 mark at Reitz Arena, including a perfect mark in four home games this season. Loyola enters tonight with an 18-13 record in 2007. The 18 wins equals the most wins in a calendar year since the Greyhounds won 18 games in 1994, a year which included Loyola's only MAAC Championship and NCAA appearance and was split by two coaches - the late Skip Prosser who won 14 games after January 1, 1994, and his replacement, Brian Ellerbe, who won four games in his first two months at the helm. The Greyhounds open 2008 with a pair of conference home contests, hosting Fairfield on January 4 and Iona on January 6.
LOYOLA DEBUTS GRAY JERSEYS: Tonight marks the debuts of gray jerseys being worn by the Greyhounds. Under Armour, the originator of performance apparel, became the official outfitter of Loyola men's basketball in the summer of 2007. Included in the agreement was a design for a third set of uniforms to go along with the traditional white and green. Loyola is just the second men's basketball program to have uniforms designed by Under Armour, joining Auburn University this season. Designs of all three Greyhounds uniforms can be found on the inside back cover of the 2007-08 Loyola College Men's Basketball Media Guide.
JUST BEING "TREND"-Y: Trends in college basketball can tell a lot of things. Here are a few things to consider about the Greyhounds through their first 11 games. Loyola is 4-0 at Reitz Arena and all five wins have come when wearing white jerseys. It is 0-5 on the road and all six losses have come when wearing green uniforms. The Greyhounds are 5-0 when leading at the 10:00 and 5:00 marks and are 0-6 when trailing at those points in the game. Loyola is 4-1 when leading at halftime, losing to Drexel after a 25-20 advantage at the intermission, and 1-5 when trailing at halftime, overcoming a 40-33 deficit to American. The Greyhounds have lost each of the five games in which they have committed more turnovers than their opponents and all four contests when allowing more than 80 points.
GREYHOUNDS AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS: Loyola is represented in several categories among the nation's statistical leaders. In NCAA-released statistics for games played through December 16, senior guard Gerald Brown is ranked 23rd in scoring average and 13th in steals per game, junior guard Marquis Sullivan is 84th in three-point field-goal percentage and sophomore guard Brett Harvey is 11th in assist/turnover ratio. In team statistics, the Greyhounds are 26th nationally in free-throw percentage. A summary of where Loyola players rank with the MAAC can be found on Page 4 of this release.
BROWN APPROACHING CAREER MILESTONE: Senior guard Gerald Brown enters tonight six points shy of 1,000 for his career. That total includes 128 points scored during his two seasons at Providence. Needing 134 points to become the 28th player to score 1,000 in a Greyhounds uniform, Brown will become the first Loyola player to score 1,000 career points since Jason Rowe achieved the feat as a junior in 1999. The team's leading scorer at 20.3 points, he is second on the squad in rebounding with 4.7 boards an outing and leads in steals with 28. The complete list of 1,000-point scorers is listed on Page 82 of the 2007-08 Loyola Men's Basketball Media Guide.
SULLIVAN FINDS SHOOTING STROKE: Junior guard Marquis Sullivan appears to have found the shooting stroke that evaded him for a four-game stretch. He followed a 15-point effort in the win over Manhattan by making five of eight three-point attempts for that same point total at Dayton. After reaching double figures in the season's first five games, Sullivan scored just 23 points over a four-game stretch, including being shut out against Drexel. He returned to the starting lineup and equaled his season high in minutes played (28) against the Jaspers and then played 27 minutes against the Flyers.
MILES TURNS IN QUALITY PERFORMANCE: Junior guard Joe Miles has been inconsistent since returning to the court after sitting out 2006-07 following his transfer to Loyola from Marshall University, but he turned in his best performance to date at Dayton. A DNP-CD in the Manhattan win, Miles came off the bench against the Flyers and scored a season-high 14 points with five assists and three steals. Shooting 30 percent from the field and 21 percent from three-point range entering the game, he connect on five of his seven attempts, including three of five on three-pointers. The game was his third this season in which he has turned in double-figures in scoring.
HARVEY POSTS FIRST CAREER DOUBLE-DOUBLE: Sophomore guard Brett Harvey registered a unique double-double in the win over Manhattan. Despite tallying just one free throw in the scoring column, Harvey recorded career highs in both assists (11) and rebounds (10) for his first career double-double. The assists are tied for the second-most recorded total in school history and are the highest number since Andre Collins handed out 10 assists at Virginia (12/23/05).
TUCK FINDING NICHE AS STARTER: Senior forward Michael Tuck has adapted to a starting role after being named the MAAC's Sixth Man of the Year by the conference's coaches last season. Relegated to a reserve role to conserve his minutes as he battled injuries last season, Tuck has been healthy thus far this season and is the team's leading rebounder at 6.7 boards per game and is third in scoring with 9.7 points per game.
ISREAL BOUNCES BACK: After scoring just nine points in the three games prior, senior forward Omari Isreal rebounded with a 13-point effort in the win over Manhattan and then scored nine off the bench at Dayton. That three-game scoring slump followed a stretch of three contests in which he averaged 13.3 points and five rebounds while shooting 55.6 percent from the field (15-27) and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line (10-12). He has played with Loyola for just over a calendar year following his transfer from Notre Dame, appearing in 34 games over that stretch while averaging 8.8 points and 5.3 rebounds with 35 blocked shots.