Loyola opens Patriot League play Thursday against Navy

January 01, 2014 | WNST Staff

Loyola Greyhounds vs. Navy Midshipmen

Thursday, January 2, 2014  |  7:30 p.m.

Baltimore, Md. | Reitz Arena


Quick Hits About The ’Hounds

The Greyhounds open their first season in the Patriot League on Thursday, January 2, when they host the U.S. Naval Academy at 7:30 p.m. in Reitz Arena.

Loyola closed non-conference play with a 5-6 record.

The Greyhounds went 4-1 during the month of November, but December was not as kind, as they finished the 2013’s final month with a 1-5 mark.

Monday’s game against the University of Miami marked the first time this season that a player other than Dylon Cormier led the team in scoring. Eric Laster finished with 13 to Cormier’s 11.

Loyola leads the Patriot League in turnover margin, committing an average 3.2 fewer per game than its opponents.


Last Time Out

Miami used three runs of 10-0 or better during the first half to built a 43-20 halftime lead, and the Hurricanes led by 21 or more throughout the second half in a 71-48 non-conference winon Monday night in Coral Gables, Fla.

Loyola trailed 14-1 less than four minutes into the game, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Eric Laster, a Dylon Cormier putback and a Denzel Brito layup pulled the Greyhounds within three, 14-11, with 13:12 left in the half.

The Greyhounds, however, did not score for the next 6:32, and Miami was up 24-11 after a 10-0 run.

Laster finished with 13 points, leading three Loyola players in double-figures.



Patriot League Network

Thursday’s game against Navy will air live on the Patriot League Network.

The game, 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 LoyolaGreyhounds.com/pln.

Gary Lambrecht will call the play-by-play, and Jim Chivers ’05 will provide color analysis.


Series History Versus Navy

With campuses located 26 miles apart (as the crow flies), Loyola and Navy will meet for the 24th time on the hardwood when the teams play Thursday night.

The Midshipmen lead the series 19-4 and have won the last three meetings. The teams first met during January 1910 when Navy defeated the Greyhounds, 36-10. Loyola’s most recent win in the series came on January 10, 1994, when the Skip Prosser-coached Greyhounds recorded a 78-68 victory in Reitz Arena.

Loyola and Navy last met on November 10, 2006, on the campus of St. John’s University in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic. The Midshipmen overcame a 34-25 halftime deficit, making 20-of-20 free throws and outrebounding the Greyhounds, 20-9, in the second half of a 73-61 decision.

Loyola led by as many as 13 in the second half, but Navy’s free throw shooting – the Midshipmen were 27-of-28 overall – helped it bounce back.

Gerald Brown, in his first game for the Greyhounds, scored a game-high 24 points, and Marquis Sullivan added 16 off the bench. Four Navy starters scored 10 or more, led by Greg Sprink’s 21.



Start Of A New Era

Thursday’s game marks the start of a new era for Loyola basketball, the Greyhounds’ first game as a member of the Patriot League.

Loyola announced in August 2012 it would join the 10-school League, and it officially became a member on July 1, 2013.

The Greyhounds were members of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) since 1989-1990.


Jones Joins Starting Five

Loyola Head Coach G.G. Smith used his third starting lineup of the season Monday night at Miami, as Jarred Jones started his first game of the year alongside Dylon Cormier, Eric Laster, Jordan Latham and R.J. Williams.


Laster Leads Scoring

Eric Laster led the team in scoring for the first time in his young career on MOnday night, finishing with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting.

The sophomore guard, who has started all 11 games this year and is averaging 9.3 points per game, made three 3-pointers against the Hurricanes.

It was the first time this season that Loyola’s leading scorer, Dylon Cormier, did not lead the team in scoring.


Second Half Revivals

Loyola has outscored its last three opponents, Stony Brook, Saint Joseph’s and Miami, 119-88, in the second half.

In those final 20 minutes, the Greyhounds have shot 45.3 percent from the field, but their defense has been the difference. The Seawolves, Hawks and Hurricanes have been limited to just 22-of-63 (34.59 percent) from the floor during the second halves. Stony Brook and Saint Joseph’s made just 11 combined shots and shot 27.5 percent.

Loyola’s opponents have made just three 3-pointer (3-of-18, 16.7 percent), and they have committed 26 turnovers to Loyola’s eight after the breaks.

In the December 21 against Saint Joseph’s, the Greyhounds forced 11 second-half turnovers, and the Hawks made only 4-of-21 (19 percent) shots; none of their nine 3-point attempts found the mark.

Offensively, Dylon Cormier has averaged 15.7 points in the second halves of the last three games for Loyola, including a 23-point performance against the Hawks.

Against Stony Brook, the Greyhounds erased a 17-point first-half deficit to tie the score twice in the second half. Versus Saint Joseph’s, Loyola trailed, 60-24, at the half, but it made the contest a three-possession game and lost by 11.

In all 11 games this year, Loyola is outscoring opponents, 37.7-36.2, after halftime.


Slow Starts

The Greyhounds’ second half rallies have been necessitated by slow starts that have dug first-half holes against Stony Brook, Saint Joseph’s and Miami.

In those games, Loyola has allowed its foes to shot 62.2 percent (51-of-82) from the field while shooting just 34.2 percent (25-of-73) itself. The opponents made a combined 17-of-29 shots from behind the arc, as well.

Loyola has also lost the turnover differentials in the first halves of those games, coughing up the ball 27 times while forcing just 18 turnovers.

Loyola has led at the half just three times this year (Binghamton, Cornell and Fairfield), an all three of those games translated into victories.

Cumulatively, in the Greyhounds’ 11 games, Loyola has been outscored, 39.5-30.0, in the first half this season.


Second Half Versus Saint Joseph’s

The aforementioned second half against Saint Joseph’s saw Loyola outscore the Hawks, 53-28. The 53 points were the most that the Greyhounds have scored in a half this season, besting the 48 second-half points they tallied versus Catholic University.

Loyola’s top three scorers in the game – Dylon Cormier (27), Jarred Jones (15) and Eric Laster (10) – combined for 41 of Loyola’s 53 points after the break.

Cormier was 9-of-13 from the field for 23 points, and Laster hit 4-of-6 shots for 10. Cormier’s 23 points were the most by a Loyola player in a half this season, as were his nine rebounds.

Loyola committed only two turnovers after the break, while its five steals contributed to 11 Saint Joseph’s miscues.


Cormier’s Start To The Season

Dylon Cormier has started the season scoring in bunches, averaging 22.9 points per game through 10. Through games of Monday, December 30, Cormier was seventh in the nation in scoring.

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 seven 20+ point games in nine contests.

On November 20 at UMBC, Cormier had a career-high 12 field goals and went 9-of-13 from the line to match his career-best with 34 points (also set on November 10 at Cornell).

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.

Collins had eight games with 30 or more points that season, the most by a Loyola player during the Division I era.

Cormier was the first player in Loyola men’s basketball history to post two 30+ point games to start the season.

He was the first Loyola player to score 30 or more in back-to-back outings since Collins went for 34, 36 and 39 in three-straight games (all on the road at VMI, Delaware and Providence) from December 29, 2005-January 3, 2006.


Into The Top 10

In the first half at Miami, Dylon Cormier moved into the top-10 all-time at Loyola in scoring. With 1,465 points, he moved in front of B.J. Pendleton (1991-95) and took sole possession of 10th place.

Next up on the all-time scoring list is Maurice Hicks who scored 1,494 from 1981-95.

Cormier is the eighth player at Loyola to reach 1,400 points at the Division I level.


Cormier To The Charity Stripe

Loyola went to the free-throw line a season-high 35 times on December 19 against Stony Brook, and Dylon Cormier took 21 of the attempts.

His 21 free throw attempts were the second-most in school single-game history, one shy of tying the January 14, 2009, mark set by Jamal Barney against NJIT.

Cormier made 16 free throws, a career-best, good for a tie for fourth in single-game history. Barney holds that record, as well, with 18.

Through 11 games, Cormier has gone to the free-throw line 105 times (tied for 18th in Division I through games of December 30). His average of 9.5 free throws per game is sixth nationally.

Loyola is guaranteed at least 30 games this season (29 regular-season, plus at least one Patriot League Tournament), and with that average, Cormier would 286 free throws in 2013-14. The school single-season record for free throws attempted is 255 set in 1997-98 by Mike Powell.

In his career, Cormier is 404-of-576 from the free-throw line. Against Saint Joseph’s, he moved into fourth-place at Loyola in attempts, and he is now nine away from fifth-place in makes.


Sticky Fingers

Loyola has logged 13 steals in two of its recent (at Mount St. Mary’s and versus Stony Brook) , raising its Patriot League leading average to 8.5 per game this season. It is also tied for 27th in the nation in steals per game.

The Greyhounds have had 11 or more steals in four games – 12 at UMBC, 11 at Connecticut and 13 at Mount St. Mary’s and versus Stony Brook – through 10 contests.

R.J. Williams leads the Patriot League, and is tied for 35th nationally, in steals per game (2.2), while Dylon Cormier is tied for sixth (1.9). Cormier had a season-high four thefts against the Seawolves.

Cormier now has 159 in his career at Loyola, fifth-most in school history and two out of fourth place. With 85 in his career, Williams is 24th on the career chart.


Turnovers Trending Lower

Through 11 games this season, the Greyhounds have done a relatively good job of taking care of possessions, averaging 11.1 turnovers per game, second best amongst Patriot League teams.

Loyola is slightly ahead of last year’s average of 11.9 turnovers per game (12.0 in the first 11 of the season).

Additionally, the Greyhounds lead the Patriot League in turnover margin, averaging 3.3 fewer than their opponents this season. Loyola has forced 14.3 turnovers per game this year, 8.5 per game by route of the steal, a stat that is also tops in the conference.

In all, the Greyhounds have committed 110 turnovers to their opponents 143.


Telling Stat

In Loyola’s six losses this season – at Connecticut, West Virginia, Mount St. Mary’s and versus Stony Brook and Saint Joseph’s – the Greyhounds are shooting nearly nine percent worse from the floor than they are in their five victories.

Loyola has made 45.9 percent (134-of-292) shots in five wins versus 37.2 percent (129-of-347) in six losses. As a consequence, Loyola is averaging 20.8 points less (81.4 versus 60.8) in the losses.

As one would expect, opponents are shooting better (48.1-42.4) in the games they’ve won.


Jones Returns To Scoring Form

Jarred Jones had his best scoring night since of the month of December against Saint Joseph’s, finishing with 15 points on 5-of-8 from the field. He hit two 3-pointers, his first two of the season, and also had two steals in the game. His 15 points were the second most of his career.

Jones is the team’s second leading scorer this season, averaging 9.8 points per game while shooting a team-best 54.3 percent from the field. He has also gone to the free-throw line 39 times, making 30 attempts for a 76.9 percentage.

The sophomore had a career night in the season-opener against Binghamton, recording personal bests in points (22), rebounds (7), field goals made (8), field goal attempts (11) and blocked shots (4).

While his offensive production was critical, his four blocked shots were just as important. Jones swatted two Binghamton layups with weak-side help in the final 2:10 of regulation. The first block came in transition, and the second was on a drive from the left side. Both shots would have given Binghamton the lead if not for the blocks.

He followed that game with a 13-point, 7-rebound effort against Cornell.


Rassman Producing More

Franz Rassman has shown his best scoring form of the season in Loyola’s last five games, averaging 8.8 points in those contests.

After tallying a career-best 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting against Catholic University, Rassman finished with 12 points – 10 in the first half – at Mount St. Mary’s.

In Loyola’s first six games of the season, Rassman was making just 31.8 percent of shots (7-of-22), but he has hit 54.3 percent (19-of-35) in the last five contests.


Doing The Little Things

Eric Laster has done the stat-sheet filling things in the several games for the Greyhounds. The guard, who is in his first year as a starter, has pulled down at least four rebounds in each of the last six games.

On December 19 versus Stony Brook, he blocked a career-best three shots, and earlier this month, he posted a career-high five assists in a win over Catholic.

Laster has 17 assists this year against just six turnovers, and he is averaging 3.9 rebounds per game.

After averaging just 5.3 minutes in 27 games last season, he has seen his role expand dramatically this season, starting the first five games on the wing.

Laster has averaged 8.9 points in Loyola’s first 10 contests, and he is shooting 44.1 percent (15-of-34) from 3-point range. In 27 games last year, he averaged just 0.8 points (22 total) and shot 32.3 percent overall from the field.


Williams To The Basket

R.J. Williams has been a true point guard throughout his career at Loyola, but he has taken more opportunities to score this season. He has scored 10 or more three times (the same number he had during his first two years), including tallying 11 versus Stony Brook to match his career-high.

Against the Seawolves, Williams showed his ability to get to the basket for layups or to draw fouls. He leads the team in free-throw percentage (81.1), making 30-of-37 from the charity stripe this season.


Outside Shooting Off The Bench

Tyler Hubbard’s role as an outside shooter off the bench has continued this year, with good success. The sophomore is hitting 40.0 percent (14-of-35) shots from behind the 3-point arc, while averaging 15.7 minutes per game.

He is also getting to the free-throw line at a good clip with the ability to draw contract when driving into traffic. He has taken the fourth most free throws on the team this season, making 13-of-17.

After averaging 2.8 points in 9.7 minutes per game last season, Hubbard has raised his scoring to 5.5 this year. He has played 24 minutes, season highs, in two of the Greyhounds’ last three games.


From Way Back

Loyola trailed UMBC by 17 points, 58-41, with 9:44 left in regulation on November 20, but the Greyhounds came all the way back to tie the score with 11 ticks left in regulation. They then went on to win, 89-83, in overtime.

An R.J. Williams layup with 8:37 left started a 10-0 run that would cut the deficit to seven on two Dylon Cormier free throws at 6:29, and Loyola would get within four on three occasions after that.

UMBC, however, pushed the lead back to double-digits, 73-63, on a Malik Garner free throw with 90 seconds remaining.

Eric Laster hit a pair of threes, wrapped around a 1-of-2 trip to the line for UMBC’s Joey Getz, and Loyola was down 74-69 with 1:14 left after Laster’s second triple. Quentin Jones hit a 20-foot jumper form the left corner with 58 seconds left, but Laster answered 11 ticks later to make it a four-point game.

Garner turned the ball over on a Cormier steal, and Later canned his fourth three in a span of 41 seconds to get the Greyhounds within a point, 76-75, with 42 seconds left. Loyola forced a missed layup by UMBC, and Cormier was fouled with 11 seconds left, and he hit 1-of-2 to tie the score. UMBC’s Rodney Elliott drew contact and a foul call with 3.1 seconds showing, but the freshman missed both foul shots, forcing overtime.

In the extra period, Loyola made 4-of-5 field goals and 5-of-8 free throws to pull away for the victory.


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.


Preseason Patriot League Picks

As a team, the Greyhounds were slated to finish fifth in the Patriot League Preseason poll, just six points out of third place. Boston University was the unanimous pick to win the league, followed by Lafayette, Army, Bucknell, Loyola, Lehigh, Holy Cross, Colgate, American and Navy.



Brito, Laster Spend Summer Overseas

Two Loyola players, – Denzel Brito and Eric Laster – gained valuable experience playing overseas during the summer of 2013.

Brito trained with the Cape Verdean National Team prior to their play in the FIBA African Championships. However, due to a FIBA exclusion, he was not able to participate in the event itself.

Laster played in five games on a tour that visited Belgium, England and The Netherlands. He was lauded for his wing play by writers who covered the events against professional teams in those countries.


Cormier On The Charts

Dylon Cormier enters 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:


11th 1,65 points
Next Maurice Hicks, 1,494
Field Goals Made
17th 484 field goals made
Next B.J. Pendleton, 490
3-Pointers Made
13th 93 3-Pt. Made
Next B.J. Davis, 104
Free Throws Made
6th 404 free throws made
Next Maurice Hicks, 412
21st 186 assists
Next Milt Williams, 190
5th 158 steals
Next Kevin Green, 159




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.


High Marks

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.


Up Next

The Greyhounds play their first two Patriot League road games next when they travel to West Point, N.Y., for a Sunday, January 5, contest at the U.S. Military Academy. A Wednesday, January 8, game at American University follows.