Nov. 15, 2004
With the 2004-05 basketball season about to begin, head coach Candy Cage has reason to be excited. The Greyhounds return 12 players and add a transfer and a rookie from a standout high school program, things can't get much better.
The 2003-04 season was the best the Greyhounds have produced under Cage's tenure with a 14-15 record and a 9-9 conference, good enough for a fifth place mark. Loyola has steadily improved from tenth place in 2001-02 and eighth place in 2002-03 since Cage's tenure at the Evergreen. Katie Scherle earned Loyola a spot on the All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference squad with her second-team nomination last season.
The `Hounds lost just one player to graduation last season, guard Lindsay Cobb. Although the loss of Cobb will be felt, the Greyhounds have worked hard to fill the void. Four starters will return to the floor (Jill Glessner, Krystle Harrington, Katie Scherle and Lauren Troupe) as well as several role players from 2003-04. In addition to that core, transfer Vanessa Ruffin will be able to compete after sitting out her Year in Residence. The lone recruit for Loyola is guard Tynisha Davis, a standout from the heralded Christ the King program in Queens.
Here's a look at the 2004-05 Loyola College Greyhounds, position by position:
The Greyhounds have two returning starters, five role players and a freshman playing the guard spot to provide an unbelievable amount of depth.
Junior Krystle Harrington returns as the starting point guard after a successful sophomore campaign. She averaged 8.7 points, 3.6 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 steals in 2003-04. Harrington came on especially strong at the close of the season with double digit scoring in her last four games of the year.
"Krystle is our true leader on the floor," Cage said. "She has elevated her game to a new height and we hope that her level of play will continue to rise."
Another returning starter at guard is sophomore Jill Glessner. Glessner started in the last 18 games of the season and finished the year fifth on the team in scoring with five points. She was also third in rebounds with 4.4 a game and chipped in 62 assists, 39 steals and eight blocks.
"Jill really came on strong late in the season last year and worked very hard this summer," Cage said. "I expect her gameto continue to improve."
Brittany Dunn appeared in all 29 games in 2003-04 as well as starting in four contests. Dunn was a force for the Greyhounds on the defensive end and has the ability to score.
"Britt is a tenacious defender and gives us added depth at the guard position," Cage said.
Jillian Henn will return for her third season as a Greyhound at the two-guard position. Last season, in 24 appearances, she finished averaging 8.5 minutes per game with 2.8 points. Henn is a huge outside threat for Loyola with 15 of her 18 shots from 2003-04 coming from behind the arc.
"Jill can break a game wide open with her shooting ability," Cage said. "She will again challenge for minutes at our off-guard position."
Junior Kerri-Lynn Orsini saw action in 19 games last season and started in the first seven for the Greyhounds. She averaged 10.8 minutes of play and scored a total of 49 points and pulled down 37 rebounds.
"Kerri-Lynn adds defensive strength to our team," Cage said. "She loves to compete and I expect her to have more of a leadership role this season."
Sophomore Ebony Toliver gained valuable experience in 2003-04, having appeared in 22 of 29 games. She scored a total of 51 points, pulled down 37 rebounds and dished out 11 assists.
"Ebony really learned our system last year," Cage said. "With that experience, her playing time will continue to increase."
And the lone addition for the Greyhounds is freshman Tynisha Davis. Davis is a strong player from one of the most respected high school programs in the country.
"T is a proven winner and we expect big things from her even as a freshman," Cage said.
Although Loyola returns a great deal of its depth at guard, the greatest level of experience is at the forward spot. Leading the way is junior Katie Scherle. Scherle is the leading returning scorer and rebounder for the Greyhounds after averaging 11.5 points and 6.2 rebounds in the 2003-04 season. She earned a spot on the All-MAAC team after having been named the Rookie of the Year as a freshman.
"Katie continues to improve," Cage said. "Her role has increased every season and she worked extremely hard in the off season to take her game to the next level."
Junior Lauren Troupe also returns to forward where she statistically finished just behind Scherle with 10.4 points and 5.6 rebounds a game. Troupe appeared in all 29 games last season and started in 25 of them. She is a threat from inside as well as out, having hit 21 three pointers last year.
"Troupe causes match-up problems for our opponents because she is so versatile," Cage said.
Jackie Valderas is another junior returning for the Greyhounds in 2004-05. Valderas appeared in all 29 games last season and started in four contests. She averaged 17.7 minutes per game as Loyola's sixth man. She finished the season with 4.7 points per game, 3.6 rebounds and a team-high 28 total blocks.
"Jackie runs the floor extremely well," Cage said. "This year she will also take on added leadership resoponsibilities."
And finally, sophomore Meghan Wood returns after a successful rookie season. Wood finished the 2003-04 season strong, averaging 10.2 minutes with 3.3 points and 2.7 rebounds a game.
"One of the hardest working players I've ever coached," Cage said. "Meghan should be a big contributor to this year's team."
For the first time since Cage's take over, Loyola has depth at center.
Senior Robbyn Poole returns for her final season after appearing in 20 games in 2003-04. Poole will provide much needed leadership to the squad.
"Robbyn will need to use her experience as a senior to help us inside the paint," Cage said.
Also, sophomore Vanessa Ruffin will be added to the ranks after transferring from Maryland prior to last season. Due to NCAA regulations, Ruffin was forced to sit out last year but will join her teammates on the court in November.
"Vanessa is anxious to get back out on the court after having to sit out last season," Cage said. "She will give us immediate help at center."
Cage will once again use a tough non-conference schedule to prepare her already veteran team for the competitive conference rounds. The Greyhounds open the season with four non-conference road games.
"We've built a very challenging non-conference schedule again this season with great ACC teams like Maryland and Wake Forest as well as consistent NCAA tournament teams with Liberty and Delaware," said Cage. "It will be tough but as always we hope it will prepare us for the MAAC. We finally have some veteran players this season and think that by challenging them early, we will be successful."
The season opens at Delaware and follows with American, Maryland and Howard.
"I'm excited about all of our local opponents with Maryland, American, Howard and Towson," said Cage. "Each are quality programs and we look forward to building some rivalries there."After a break from non-conference action and a trip north to Niagara and Canisius (MAAC opponents), the Greyhounds will finally return to the Evergreen and Reitz Arena to play Towson. Before the holiday, Loyola will travel south to play Virginia Commonwealth and Wake Forest.Loyola wraps up the non-conference schedule at home with Liberty and Long Island.
The MAAC schedule will start up again in early January and conclude at the end of February with the tournament being held at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y. in March.