Loyola University Maryland makes its first-ever appearance in the Patriot League Championships on Monday, March 3, when it hosts a first round contest against Lafayette College at 7:30 p.m. in Reitz Arena.
The Greyhounds finished tied for seventh in the League during the regular-season and enter the Championships as the eighth seed. Lafayette is the ninth seed.
The winner of the game will face top-seeded Boston University in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 5.
By making 13-of-16 shots (81.3 percent) in the last two games, Franz Rassman raised his field-goal percentage to 46.5, now tops on the team. He is shooting 63.6 percent in the last eight games.
Last Time Out
Tyler Hubbard made two free throws with 4.4 seconds left, and R.J. Williams came up with a last-second steal to deliver a 67-65 victory for Loyola on Saturday afternoon at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Williams and Hubbard each made 1-of-2 at the line at 2:28 and :13 to put Loyola on top by two, but Worth Smith had a layup with 4.8 seconds left to tie the game.
A long inbound pass that went past halfcourt and toward the Loyola bench was deflected by Hubbard when he was fouled, setting up the final free throws.
Monday’s game against Lafayette will air live on the Patriot League Network.
The contest, and all of Loyola’s remaining, non-televised home and road games will be streamed, free of charge, in high definition and can be accessed at www.patriotleague.tv.
Gary Lambrecht will call the play-by-play, and Jim Chivers ’05 will provide color analysis.
Series History Versus Lafayette
Loyola and Lafayette will meet for the fifth time in series history and the third this year. The teams split the regular-season series, each winning on its home court.
In this year’s first match, Loyola knocked off the Leopards, 77-63, on January 13, in a game that was broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network.
R.J. Williams (12 points, 10 assists) and Dylon Cormier (25 points, 11 rebounds) both logged double-doubles as the Greyhounds outscored Lafayette, 42-26, in the second half.
Lafayette returned the favor on its home court with a 61-44 win on February 12. The Leopards made four 3-pointers during an 18-5 run to start the second half, spurring the victory. Dan Trist scored 14, and Seth Hinrichs had 13 for the Leopards. Franz Rassman and R.J. Williams each had 10 for Loyola.
The teams first met on December 16, 1930, when the Greyhounds opened the season with a 31-27 victory.
It took another 32 years before the programs met again. This time, Lafayette came out on top, 69-64, in the championship game of the Loyola Invitational on December 29, 1962.
Loyola is playing the Patriot League Championships for the first time after competing in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships for each of the last 24 years.
The Greyhounds compiled an 11-22 record in the MAAC Championships, winning the 1994 and 2012 titles.
Rassman On Target
Sophomore forward Franz Rassman had the best offensive game of his Loyola career Wednesday night versus Holy Cross, scoring a personal-best 15 points on 6-of-7 from the field. He made his lone 3-point attempt and converted 2-of-3 free throws, too. As a result, he played a career-high 30 minutes.
He followed that game by matching his career-best in Loyola’s next game, scoring 15 on Saturday afternoon in a win at Navy. He knocked down 7-of-9 shots in that game and also had seven rebounds against the Midshipmen.
In his last two games, Rassman is shooting 81.3 percent from the field, making 13-of-16 shots, raising his field-goal percentage to 46.5 percent for the season, best on the team.
Rassman has shot 63.6 percent from the field in Loyola’s last eight games (28-of-44), and he is shooting 92.3 percent from the free-throw line in that stretch, too. In Loyola’s first 21 games of the year, Rassman made just 39.8 percent of his shots (45-of-113) from the field.
The End That Matters
Navy led Loyola, or the score was tied, for 34-minutes, 13-seconds of the game on Saturday, but two Tyler Hubbard free throws with 4.4 seconds left broke the game’s seventh tie, and Loyola went on to win, 67-65.
The Greyhounds were in front for 2:06 in the first half before Navy took the lead with 13:41 to go before the break. The Midshipmen went ahead by as many as nine before halftime, but Loyola came back to trail just one at intermission.
Academic Honors For Rassman
Last month, sophomore forward Franz Rassman was named to the Capital One Academic All-America District II Team for his excellence in the classroom.
Rassman, who has started 27-of-28 games and is averaging 5.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, is now eligible for Academic All-America honors along with district honorees from around the nation.
Cormier Has Hand Surgery
Dylon Cormier, the leading scorer in the Patriot League (21.2 points per game), fractured his left hand in a loose-ball scramble on Saturday, February 1, against the U.S. Military Academy, and he had surgery on February 5 to stabilize the break, likely ending his season.
Cormier was also second in the Patriot League in steals (2.2) and fifth in rebounds (5.8) at the time of his injury.
The Greyhounds made 12-of-21 shots in the second half at Navy, and the 57.1 percent mark from the field after halftime was their third-best of the season.
Loyola shot 66.7 percent after halftime against Catholic on December 3 and 59.3 percent in a February 15 game against Boston University.
This year, the Greyhounds have shot better after halftime than in the first 20 minutes, making 43 percent after the break as opposed to 39.5 percent in the opening stanza.
Versus The Leopards
Loyola and Lafayette split the two regular-season meetings this year, each winning on its home court while the other was missing its top scorer (Dylon Cormier for Loyola and Seth Hinrichs for Lafayette).
Lafayette outscored Loyola, 62.0-60.5, but the Greyhounds had a 36.0-25.5 advantage in rebounds in the games.
Cormier scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in Loyola’s win, and R.J. Williams averaged 11 points and six assists in the two games, while Jordan Latham averaged 10.
R.J. Against The Raiders
In his two games against Colgate this season, Loyola point guard R.J. Williams has set his career-high in scoring twice. He finished with 15 on January 25 in the teams’ first meeting, and he eclipsed that by one with a team-best 16 points on Saturday, February 22, in Hamilton, N.Y.
In the game at Colgate, Williams made 6-of-11 shots from the field, 4-of-7 in the second half.
The 16 points were also the second time this year, and in his career, that he has led Loyola in scoring. Coupled with 13 points against Holy Cross, Williams raised his points per game average to 8.3, second on the team.
Williams is seventh in the Patriot League in assists per game (3.8), and he leads the conference in steals per game (2.2).
Career Night For Latham
Jordan Latham recorded career-highs in several categories on February 15 against Boston University, logging his first collegiate double-double with bests of 25 points and 10 rebounds.
Latham made 10-of-16 field goals and 5-of-8 free throws (career-highs in both made and attempted for both) while also blocking three shots and tying his personal-best with two steals.
The senior forward from Baltimore scored 16 points in the first half, more than any other Loyola player has tallied in the opening 20 minutes this year. He played a career-high 33 minutes, as well in the game.
He followed that game by leading the team in scoring for the second game in a row, tying Jarred Jones with 13 points, on Wednesday night against Colgate. He had career-highs of seven free-throws made and 11 attempted in that contest. It was the first time in his career that he had led the team in scoring in back-to-back games.
His previous scoring high of 17 came in December 2012 at Florida Gulf Coast University, and he had a high of seven rebounds earlier this season at Cornell University.
Latham And The League
In Loyola’s 18 Patriot League contests, Jordan Latham significantly raised his scoring contributions. He finished Loyola’s regular-season slate of 11 games with a 5.0 points per game, but he bumped that up to 9.1 points in League contests.
In conference games, Latham shot 47.0 percent (33.8 non-conference), and he was also better at the free-throw line, making 63.9 percent as opposed to 47.4.
Latham also rebounded better, 4.1 in the League, up from 3.4, and his blocked shots per game were 1.5, higher than his previous 1.1.
The improved play in the Patriot League has raised his cumulative totals to 7.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.
In Patriot League play, his 1.5 blocked shots were fifth in the conference, and his 1.3 overall are tied for sixth with teammate Jarred Jones.
Shouldering More Scoring Load
Jordan Latham’s scoring has also seen a rise since the injury to Loyola’s leading point producer, Dylon Cormier. In the eight games since Cormier’s injury (in the second half of the February 1 game against Army), Latham is leading the team in scoring at 12.0 per game.
He also has done a much better job of getting to the free-throw line where he is 27-of-44 over that stretch. His 44 free throws in the eight games are more than the 36 he attempted in Loyola’s first 21 games of the season.
Eric Laster has set career-highs in scoring in two of the Greyhounds’ last six games. He recorded 18 points on February 15 against Boston University, clipping his previous best of 17 on February 8 at Lehigh.
Laster’s 18 against the Terriers came in a much more efficient manner than the 17 against the Mountain Hawks. He made 6-of-7 from the field, including both of his 3-point attempts, against Boston University after hitting 6-of-15 at Lehigh.
Through 29 games, 27 starts, this year, Laster is third on the team with an 8.2 points per game average. He is shooting 42.2 percent from the field and 41.1 percent form 3-point range. The sophomore also has averaged 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 27.4 minutes per game.
In 27 games as a freshman in 2011-2012, Laster averaged 0.8 points and 0.4 rebounds in 5.3 minutes of action per game.
Turnover Back In Line
After two games in which the Greyhounds had two of their top three turnover totals of the season – 17 at Lafayette and 22 versus Boston University – they had their lowest mark of the year with just five against Bucknell.
It was the sixth time this season Loyola finished a game with nine or fewer miscues. It is 4-2 in those games with both losses coming at the hands of the Bison.
Loyola has committed more turnovers than its opponents just seven times this year; the Greyhounds are 2-5 in those games.
Overall, turnovers have not been a major issue for the Greyhounds this season. They are averaging 12.1 giveaways per game this year, fourth fewest in the Patriot League. Additionally, Loyola is tops in the conference in turnover margin, averaging 1.83 fewer per game than its opponents.
Jordan Latham and Jarred Jones have combined for 32 blocked shots, 16 each, in the last eight games for the Greyhounds, helping Loyola take over the Patriot League lead in blocked shots per game (4.3).
Latham had three at Navy, and Jones had two, bringing them tied at 39 each to close the regular season. They are tied for sixth in the Patriot League at 1.34 blocked shots per game.
Jones On The Defensive End
Jarred Jones has been one of the Greyhounds’ most productive defensive players, statistically speaking.
In Patriot League action, Jones leads the team with 29 blocked shots, 1.6 per game, and he is second on the team with 31 steals, an average of 1.72 per game. He is fourth in League play in blocked shots per game, fifth in steals. His overall averages of 1.3 and 1.5 are both sixth in the league.
Gotta Get To The Line
The Greyhounds have seen their most success this season when getting to the free-throw line consistently. They are 6-3 when attempting 25 or more free throws (wins over Binghamton, Cornell, Fairfield, UMBC, Navy and Lafayette; losses to Stony Brook, Saint Joseph’s and at Colgate). In the Loyola’s three other wins, Catholic, Lehigh and Colgate, it took 19, 24 and 18 free throws, respectively.
Overall, Loyola is getting to the free-throw line more than six fewer times in losses than wins (26.4-20.3).
Away From The Friendly Confines
Loyola snapped a 12-game road losing streak on March 1 with a victory at Navy. At 4-12 on the road this year, the Greyhounds are shooting 39.0 percent as opposed to 44.8 percent while going 7-6 at home. Opponents are shooting 47.0 percent in their own facilities, 43.2 percent in Reitz Arena.
The Greyhounds turn the ball over at a rate of almost one per game more on the road (12.5-11.6), and they also force an extra turnovers at home (14.5-13.4).
With these factors, the Greyhounds are averaging more than five points less per game on the road, 62.8, to their 67.8 points per game at home.
Through games of March 1, the Greyhounds lead the Patriot League and are 25th nationally at 8.0 steals per game. Loyola has had 11 or more steals in eight games through 20 contests.
R.J. Williams leads the Patriot League,and is 26th nationally in steals per game (2.2), while Dylon Cormier was second (2.19) and 26th when he qualified with enough games played.
In the January 25 game against Colgate, Cormier had two steals, moving him past Tracy Bergan and into second on the all-time steals list at Loyola. Bergan was in attendance at the game as part of the Greyhounds’ 1994 NCAA Tournament team that was honored that night. He now has 185 in his career.
With 122 in his career, Williams is ninth on the career chart. His 57 this season are eighth on the school single-season chart.
Dylon Cormier had been one of the top scorers in the nation this season, averaging 21.2 points per game through 21 and the time of his injury. Through games of Thursday, February 27, Cormier was 14th in the nation in points per game, but he no longer qualifies since he has not played 75 percent of the Greyhounds’ games.
Cormier scored 20 or more points in the Greyhounds’ first five games, and he had three 30-plus point efforts during that stretch, as well.
Overall, he has 14 20-plus point games in 21 contests, and he has recorded 25 or more eight times.
No Loyola player in the school’s Division I era (since 1981-1982) had started the season with five-straight 20-point games. Andre Collins, who set the school single-season scoring record at 26.1, started the 2005-2006 season with 20 or more points in five of six games, but he scored just 16 in the Greyhounds’ third game of the season.
Cormier was the first player in Loyola men’s basketball history to post two 30+ point games to start the season.
In the first half of the game at Bucknell, Dylon Cormier hit the 1,600 career points mark, becoming the seventh player in school history to do so, the fifth in the program’s tenure at Division I.
At Boston University, Cormier moved into seventh-place all-time at Loyola in scoring, passing Mike Powell and his 1,580 points. At the time of his injury, Cormier had 1,659 career points through 115 career games.
In Loyola’s 18 losses this season, the Greyhounds are shooting almost nine percent worse from the floor than they are in their 11 victories.
Loyola has made 47.1 percent (272-of-577) shots in 11 wins versus 38.2 percent (383-of-1,000) in 18 losses. As a consequence, Loyola is averaging 14.6 less (74.1 versus 59.5) points per game.
Start Of The Smith Era
G.G. Smith was named the 20th head coach in Loyola University Maryland men’s basketball history on April 12, 2013. Her garnered his first head coaching win on November 8, 2013, in the season-opener against Binghamton.
The 1999 graduate of the University of Georgia spent the last six seasons as an assistant coach at Loyola for Jimmy Patsos who took the head coaching position at Siena College in March.
Loyola amassed a 106-87 record (.549) during Smith’s six years as an assistant. The 106 wins and the .549 winning percentage are the best of any six-year stretch during Loyola’s Division I history (since 1982-1983).
As a player, Smith was a three-year starter and four-year letterwinner for the Bulldogs from 1995-1999. Smith helped the Bulldogs advance to the 1996 NCAA Sweet 16 and another tournament appearance in 1997. He left Georgia as the school’s career leader in games played (129), wins in a season (24) and 3-pointers in a game (nine).
Smith is the son of current Texas Tech University Head Coach Tubby Smith. The elder Smith led the University of Kentucky to the 1998 NCAA Championship and is in his 23rd season as a head coach. G.G. Smith played for his father from 1995-1997 at Georgia.
Look Back At 2012-2013
Loyola finished the 2012-2013 season with a 23-12 record, marking the first time in the school’s Division I history (since 1982-1983) that the Greyhounds have posted back-to-back 20-win seasons.
The Greyhounds finished their final season in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with a 12-6 mark, tying for second place.
After falling in the first round of the MAAC Championships, Loyola its first-ever bid tot he CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. Following the Greyhounds’ 2012 appearance in the NCAA Tournament, it was the first consecutive postseason bids in school Division I history and the first since 1953 in any division of competition.
Erik Etherly and Dylon Cormier became the first set of Loyola teammates to be named to the All-MAAC First Team in the same year.
Dylon Cormier entered his senior season at Loyola with a chance to climb many of the Greyhounds’ career statistical charts. Here is a look at where he stands:
Scoring 7th 1,659 points Next Mike Krawczyk, 1,676 Field Goals Made 10th 552 field goals made Next Gene Gwiazdowski, 565 3-Pointers Made 13th 96 3-Pt. Made Next B.J. Davis, 104 Free Throws Made 2nd 459 free throws made Next Jim Lacy, 613 Assists 20th 210 assists Next Dave Wojick, 219 Steals 2nd 185 steals Next Jason Rowe, 272
Into The Fold
Loyola signed three high school seniors in the early signing period to comprise its Class of 2018.
Forward Cam Gregory (Waldorf, Md./St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes) and guards Chancellor Barnard (Columbia, Md./Glenelg Country School) and Colton Bishop (Winston-Salem, N.C./Forsyth County Day School) will join the program in the fall.
For more on the trio, visit http://loyo.la/MBB-NLIs-13.
The Loyola men’s basketball team scored the highest amongst squads in the State of Maryland in the most recent NCAA Graduation Success Rate report. The Greyhounds checked in with a 91-percent GSR, tops among the state’s nine Division I schools, for players who entered the school between 2003-2006.