Nov. 15, 2005
Focus, determination and depth. Being solid, steady and consistent. This is what first-year head coach Joe Logan asks of his players.
"We have talked a lot about focus in the pre-season," Logan said. "Focusing on little things like passing and catching, footwork, layups, screening, the fundamentals. Focusing on the little things now is going to help us as the season get progresses."
With 11 players retuning from the 2004-05 squad, including all five starters, as well as two additions, Logan has some extreme depth to his team. The squad includes five seniors with a great deal of leadership and underclassmen with a plethora of experience.
At guard, the Greyhounds return senior Krystle Harrington as the starting point guard, classmate Kerri-Lynn Orsini, juniors Brittany Dunn, Jill Glessner and Ebony Toliver, sophomore Tynisha Davis and add freshman Siobhan Prior and Ashley Alexander. Harrington and Orsini will provide leadership to a group of already seasoned veterans.
In the post, Loyola returns five players, including three seniors. Second-team All-MAAC selection Katie Scherle, Sixth Player of the Year Jackie Valderas and classmate Lauren Troupe headline the returners in addition to juniors Vanessa Ruffin and Meghan Wood. Alexander will spend time at forward as well as guard to add depth.
"We are strong across the board," Logan said. "Our job, as a coaching staff, is very difficult as far as who's going to play and how much because of how competitive this team is. All 13 players are working hard to get a spot. Being 13 deep is a good problem to have."
This season, Logan and the Greyhounds will look to break out of the middle of the pack of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and use that depth and experience to do that. In addition, Logan asks of his players to play every game steady, solid and consistent and that will get them there.
"We keep saying: Play harder, play longer," Logan said. "The harder we work and play now, the longer we'll be playing basketball this season. The further we will go in the post-season."
Here's a look at the 2005-06 squad broken down by position:
Krystle Harrington has run the point for the Greyhounds for the past two seasons and returns to do so again as a senior. As a junior, she finished tied for second on the team in scoring with an average of nine points a game while leading the team in assists (4.5) and steals (2.18), ranking third among the conference leaders in those two categories.
"Krystle, as the point guard, will need to be our floor general, a coach on the floor who knows what we need to do in certain situations," Logan said. "In addition, we are looking for her to be a defensive catalyst for us, allowing our defensive plays to turn into our offense."
Tynisha Davis will also spend time at the point. The sophomore appeared in 24 games in her rookie campaign while scoring a total of 47 points, pulling down 28 rebounds, and recording 14 assists, seven steals and two blocks.
"From Tynisha, as we do with Krystle, when she is running the team, we will look for her to get us in the right spots and get us going offensivly and defensively," Logan said. "Tynisha is also a player who can shoot the ball, shoot the three and go off the dribble to create a play herself."
"We are looking for both Krystle and T to push the ball up when we can," Logan said. "We have to make good decisions on offense and that comes from practice. At this point, they are both doing very well with that."
Senior Kerri-Lynn Orsini returns for her final season and adds a great deal of leadership and experience to the squad. Orsini missed time last season due to an injury but after her return she appeared in 17 games, earning a start at Manhattan.
"Kerri-Lynn's been great in pre-season, especially filing a leadership role," Logan said. "As a senior, we need that from her as well as her classmates. On the court, we need her to come in and knock down jump shots. When teams go zone or double us in the post, we'll need her on the perimeter."
Junior Jill Glessner also missed time last season due to an injury midseason but returned for the final nine games of the year. She played in a total of 17 games with 11 starts and as a freshman, she appeared in all 29 games played while starting in 18. Last season, she set new career-highs in points (14), rebounds (10), assists (6) and steals (4).
"Jill is having a great pre-season," Logan said. "She is our hardest worker and will be our catalyst physically. She's doing a great job working on her three and as that improves, it will make her all that much harder to guard."
A strength for the Greyhounds on defense, junior Brittany Dunn returns after starting in all 28 games in the 2004-05 season. Dunn is Loyola's top defender, often assigned to guard the opponent's top player. She finished last season second on the team in steals with 43 as well as assists with 65. In addition to that, she also scored 163 points and pulled down just over 100 rebounds.
"Brittany will continue to guard the opponent's top player, which is a big responsibility to take that pressure off her teammates but I believe she can handle it," Logan said. "We will also look for her on offense, making good decisions, feeding the post and taking her shots when they're there."
Junior Ebony Toliver is the final returning guard. Toliver appeared in all 28 games played while starting in 13 for the Greyhounds in 2004-05. Last season, she recorded a new career-high in scoring while totaling 174 points, 71 rebounds, 50 assists and 14 steals. Toliver was one of two Loyola players named to the conference all-academic team.
"Ebony is working hard in the preseason on her decision making, which is something we are working on as a team," Logan said. "She's done well playing both ends of the court on the perimeter and we'll look for her to be solid there this season."
Prior was a member of the English National Team at all levels and was once named the country's Junior Player of the Year. Last season, she led the country at the senior level in three-point shooting percentage and was second in assists at 4.2 per game
"Siobhan has a great shot, a terrific three point shot and she's going to come in and knock those shots down when we need her to," Logan said. "Again, when teams go zone on us or double our post players, she's going to be able to free up some space for them and be a zone buster."
Leading the returners in the post is senior second-team all-MAAC selection Katie Scherle. Scherle has led Loyola in scoring and rebounding the past two seasons and with 529 rebounds in her career, ranks 15th on Loyola's all-time rebounds list. She also led the team in field-goal percentage last season at 51.5 percent. As a three-season starter, Scherle will provide a great deal of leadership to the Greyhounds.
"Katie is our returning leading scorer," Logan said. "We're going to go to her when we need a basket and we're going to need her to do a lot of things offensively. She will be one of our go-tos on offense."
Classmate Jackie Valderas earned the MAAC's Sixth Player of the Year award in the 2004-05 season after appearing in 28 games with 10 starts. In her role, she averaged a team second nine points and 5.6 rebounds a game. Valderas has been Loyola's top free-throw shooter the past two seasons with a 78.8 percent mark last year.
"Jackie has some versatility in that she can do a lot of things from both the high and low post," Logan said. "She'll be valuable to us as a leader. Jackie is always helping her teammates to know what play we are in, where they need to be and encouraging them throughout the season."
Lauren Troupe is the final senior returning in the post. Troupe appeared in all 28 games last season while earning starts in 20 of those contests. She finished the season just behind her classmates in scoring at fourth with eight points a game while also averaging 4.6 rebounds a game. Troupe was Loyola's top three-point shooter in 2004-05 while hitting 15-of-58 from behind the arc.
"Lauren has great basketball fundamentals," Logan said. "She can shoot from the high post, take players off the dribble and score with her back to the basket. We're going to ask her to do those things to help us along the way."
Junior Meghan Wood has appeared in all 57 games the Greyhounds have played in since her arrival on campus. Last season, she scored just over 100 points while pulling down almost 80 rebounds while playing an average of 11.2 minutes a game.
"Meghan is a committed player who plays bigger than her size," Logan said. "She can post up a smaller opponent or take a bigger player off the dribble and we'll look for her help in the high post and the short corner area."
Red-shirt junior Vanessa Ruffin is Loyola's lone true center. At 6-4, she will help the Greyhounds a great deal in the paint. Last season, Ruffin appeared in 16 games in a limited role.
"Vanessa is going to cause match-up problems in the MAAC," Logan said. "As she works harder and improves over the next two years, I think she will hopefully emerge as one of the top post players in the conference."
Freshman Ashley Alexander will fill in where necessary at both forward and guard.
"Ashley is an old fashioned utility player," Logan said. "She's got a great three and is extremely athletic. She's going to help us with our spacing and extending our opponents defense."
The 2005-06 schedule features a total of 12 home games as well as 15 road contests including a trip to San Diego State for their Slam `N Jam Tournament. It is competitive, featuring four teams that played in the post-season in 2004-05. Non-conference opponents Liberty, Saint Francis (Pa.) and Hartford as well as MAAC opponent Canisius all appeared in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. Saint Francis (Pa.), Hartford and Canisius each made first round appearances while Liberty advanced to the Sweet 16.
"I think our schedule is a good one, it's fair," Logan said. "It's a good test and preparation for the MAAC. The San Diego State Tournament will be a good road trip. Playing two teams on the road out there will be a great experience for our team."
Other non-conference contests include Virginia Commonwealth, Long Island and Howard and potentially Auburn or UC-Davis at the San Diego State Tournament.
Loyola opens its conference schedule early with a game at Iona on December 9 and at home versus Fairfield that is a double-header with the men's squad on December 11. The remainder of the conference schedule begins on January 5 at home against Saint Peter's and is only interrupted once when the `Hounds play Liberty on January 10.
"The MAAC is going to be very competitive," Logan said. "I think the league is older this year. We return 11 of 13 so we are looking for good things from this group. I think we have to put ourselves in the position to win the MAAC Tournament at the end of the year and every game we play we will work towards this."