Loyola Hoops Picked 3rd In MAAC Preseason Poll

October 25, 2011 | WNST Staff

Loyola Men’s Basketball Picked Third In MAAC PreseasonPoll

Walker, Etherly Earn Preseason All-MAAC Honors

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Loyola University Maryland men’s basketball team received their highest preseason ranking since 2007-2008 from Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference coaches today when the Greyhounds were tabbed to finish third in this year’s league race.

Iona was picked to win the MAAC with Fairfield a closesecond in the poll that was announced at the MAAC Preseason Awards Show from the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. The Gaels garnered 8-of-10 first-place votes in the coaches poll, while the Stags drew the other two.

A pair of Greyhounds, senior forward Shane Walker (Northhampton, England/Montrose Christian H.S.) and junior forward Erik Etherly (Alexandria, Va./Annandale H.S.) earned Preseason All-MAAC Second Team honors from the league coaches.

Loyola had 76 points in the poll and was followed by Rider, which was picked fourth with 71. The Broncs were by Saint Peter’s (52), Siena (44), Niagara (42), Manhattan (33), Canisius (25) and Marist (15). Loyola’s third-place ranking is the best for the Greyhounds since they were chosen second prior to the 2007-2008 campaign.

“We are pleased to be picked third in what should be a very competitive MAAC season,” Head Coach Jimmy Patsos said. “I think the conference has some of the best talent top-to-bottom this year that it’s had since I have been here. We have a very deep team ourselves, and we’re looking forward to getting the season started.”

Last season, the Greyhounds finished fifth in the MAAC during the regular season with a 10-8 record during league play.

The men’s team combined with the Loyola women, who were picked second in their poll, to form the highest combined preseason poll rankings in the school’s MAAC history.

Walker was named to the All-MAAC Third Team a year ago after leading Loyola with an 11.1 points per game average. The 6-foot-10 forward also pulled down 7.1 rebounds per game and blocked 47 shots. Walker enters the season with 93 career blocked shots, good for third all-time at Loyola and just 24 back of George Sereikas in second.

Walker was fifth in the league in free-throw percentage (.819, 86-of-105), the best average for a post player. He also was sixth in the MAAC in rebounds per game, giving Loyola the best 1-2 combination of rebounders with Etherly.

Etherly came on strong as the year progressed for Loyola in his first season on the Reitz Arena hardwood after joining the Greyhounds as a transfer. The 6-foot-7 forward finished with a 10.8 points per game average and a team-high 7.6 rebounds per game, the No. 3 mark in the conference.

Etherly finished the season by scoring in double figures for 11-straight games, raising his scoring average from 8.8 on January 22 to 10.8 at the year’s end.

The Greyhounds play before a crowd for the first time this season in just nine days when they host Indiana University of Pennsylvania in an exhibition match-up on Thursday, November 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Reitz Arena.

Loyola opens the regular-season on Friday, November 11, at 7 p.m. in Winston-Salem, N.C., when it takes on Wake Forest in a game that will be broadcast nationally on ESPN3. The Greyhounds return to Reitz for its first regular-season home game of the year on Monday, November 14, against Coppin State.