The Loyola Greyhounds (10-12, 5-5) are winners of 5 straight and head into MAAC play this weekend back at .500 in league competition for the first time this season. Tonight they will be in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, as they will take on Rider before heading a little further north to play Fairfield at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport on Sunday at 2pm.
Tonight’s game at Rider will tip at 9pm and will be aired on national TV on ESPNU. If you don’t receive that channel in your home, fear not Greyhounds fans… you can listen to my personal play-by-play broadcast on loyolagreyhounds.com.
This mid-season rally has thrown Loyola right in the middle of the mix for a top seed in the MAAC Tournament. Siena is 11-0 and is beginning to run away from the pack, but the Greyhounds (5-5), Rider (6-3), Niagara (6-3), Fairfield (5-5), and Manhattan (5-5) are all within one victory and will be battling each other from now until March for postseason positions.
So obviously Loyola’s pair of games this weekend is tremendously important. They have to be able to keep the ball rolling and the momentum moving in the right direction.
The key to their recent success has been because of the new rotation that the team seems to be settling into. The new looked has point guard Brian Rudolph and Barney in the backcourt with Brad Farrell, Isaac Reid, and Jawaan Wright up front. Brett Harvey, Marquis Sullivan, and Anthony Winbush fill out the 8-man rotation. This has been the combination for the last 4 games, all wins. Once players can recognize their roles they can begin to fill them with their unique and specific attributes.
In case you missed it… Coach Jimmy Patsos was a guest of WNST’s midday host Bob Haynie Wednesday afternoon. The interview can be heard in its entirety in the audio vault on WNST.net at any time.
Some of the major points of interest from the conversation…
– Coach P. made a very interesting comparison. He said that he thought Jamal Barney, Loyola’s leading scorer at nearly 19ppg, reminds him of an old ABA scorer. I have always said Barney is the quickest jumper I’ve ever seen, he’s second on the team in rebounding at almost 6 per game.
– Shane Walker is expected to help Loyola “take the next step” next season. The Coach said that the 6’10 transfer from Maryland has been practicing very well and has been using us game days, where he cannot participate due to NCAA Residency Rules, to bulk up. Patsos says Walker has added nearly 15lbs since coming to Loyola. It sounds like he is already very competent on the boards and on the defensive side of the ball, but that his offense still needs development. Coach P. also mentioned that he’s got some Jason Thompson ability in him, but added that he thinks Walker is a better athlete and faster up and down the floor
– Coach Patsos acknowledged that this season’s non-conference schedule may have been a little ambitious, but that next year the team will take a trip to Bloomington, IN to take on the Hoosiers. Baltimore rivals Coppin State and Morgan State will also be on the schedule. As for the ’10-’11 season, there is the good possibility of seeing Loyola head out west to visit UCLA and/or USC.
– And lastly, pretty funny to hear Coach Patsos discuss the expectations of ballplayers at schools with academic integrity, like Loyola and Maryland. He mentioned that student-athletes at these schools are held to a high level, and that at other schools in the MAAC are way more lenient towards misbehavior. He specifically mentioned how someone might have been kicked off the Greyhound roster, but at another school that player would receive a 1 game suspension and then score 35 the next night… ZING NIAGARA and Joe Mihalich. Former all-league Purple Eagle forward Charron Fisher was involved in a major on-campus fist fight/brawl and was allowed to return to the team after a slap on the wrist last season.