Dec. 27, 2007
By Terry Foy
Michael Tuck is the motor of the Greyhounds and there aren't a whole lot of people who will deny that.
Since arriving at Loyola five years ago, the senior has had his share of ups and downs, but now has become one of the most integral cogs in Coach Jimmy Patsos' recipe for success.
"He takes care of our emotion on the floor," Patsos says. "He's been around a long time and he knows how to read the game."
The spark that he brings is not lost on Tuck, either.
"He always calls me his 'hustle guy'," Tuck said. "I know it's part of what I'm supposed to bring to the team, but it's also just how I am. I've always played hard and I think that's part of why I'm here."
One of the most notable aspects of Tuck's journey is its starting point -- as a standout from the basketball-rich Great White North. Coming from Canada as a relatively unknown quantity, Tuck was a freshman on the 2003-04 squad that finished the season 1-27 -- the only player from that team still at Loyola.
"That was horrible," Tuck says of his first year. "Everything that could be bad about a team -- not having the right schemes, not playing together, all of it -- went wrong."
Tuck then spent the following year, Patsos's first at Loyola, away from campus.
When Tuck returned, things had clearly changed. Having landed a series of high-profile transfers and big-name recruits, Loyola was poised for success. And while the new recruiting trail didn't include Canada, Tuck wasn't deterred by the talent that was coming in.
"I don't think it was an intimidation thing," Tuck says. "The new players coming in from the bigger conferences kind of went along with the entire program changing."
And Tuck has benefited from those changes.
As a sophomore, the 6-7 forward averaged 9.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in helping star guard Andre Collins lead Loyola to a 15-13 finish, its first winning season in over a decade.
Last season, Tuck battled through leg injuries to finish with similar numbers in earning the MAAC's Sixth Man of the Year award. His shooting percentage and effort on defense are a big part of his value to the Hounds, and he has continued to produce this season, averaging 9.7 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds through 11 games.
And that's a good thing for Patsos's team, as they try to work their way through a slow start and improve on a 5-6 record.
"I've said this for a long time -- when Tuck plays well, we win," Patsos said.
But the pressure isn't too much for Tuck, who has aspirations to play professional basketball abroad.
"I've had a great run at Loyola, but this isn't the way I wanted to start my last year," Tuck said. "We have a tough stretch here, but it's time to play well and start winning games."