Loyola wraps up its three-game road trip with a 7 p.m. game on Monday, December 2 at West Virginia University in Morgantown.
Loyola wrapped up the month of November with a 4-1 record, marking the third time in as many years that the Greyhounds have lost just a single game during the season’s first month.
At 4-1, the Greyhounds are tied for the second-best start in school Division I history (since 1981-1982), matching the start of the 1985-1986, 1993-1994, , 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 teams. Those squads are behind the 2005-2006 team that won its first five.
Dylon Cormier has five 20-point games in as many contests, and three 30-plus efforts.
Last Time Out
The Greyhounds lost their first game of the season, falling on the road to then-No. 13 University of Connecticut, 76-66, on Tuesday, November 26.
Loyola cut the Huskies’ eight-point halftime lead to three on a trio of occasions in the first four minutes of the second half.
Dylon Cormier scored 15 of his game-high 23 points in the second half and was one of three Greyhounds to score in double figures. Eric Laster added 12, 10 in the first half, and R.J. Williams tallied 10 to go with six assists and a game-best four steals.
Loyola outrebounded Connecticut, 40-39, and the Greyhounds had 29 offensive boards.
Turn On The Television
Monday’s game is the third of three-straight, and nine overall, Loyola men’s basketball games that will be televised. ROOT Sports Pittsburgh will originate the game, and it will air live on MASN, the MId-Atlantic Sports Network in the Baltimore and Mid-Atlantic areas. Rob King will call the play-by-play, while Warren Baker will handle color analysis duties. Robby Incmilkoski will provide reports from the sideline.
Series History Versus West Virginia
Loyola and West Virginia will meet for the second time in series history on Tuesday.
In the first meeting, on November 15, 2009, in Morgantown, the teams were tied, 31-31, at halftime before the Mountaineers scored the first 11 points of the second half.
Loyola shot 52 percent from the field in the game, but then-No. 8 West Virginia made nine 3-pointers and had a 27-12 advantage going to the line, and the Mountaineers won, 83-60.
De’Shaun Butler led all scorers with 26 points.
Cormier’s Start To The Season
Dylon Cormier has started the season scoring in bunches, averaging 28.4 points per game through five. As of games of Friday, November 29, Cormier is second in the nation in scoring, trailing only Niagara University’s Antoine Mason (31.2). Mason’s Purple Eagles, however, are 1-5 through six games, while Loyola is 4-1 behind Cormier.
Cormier has scored 20 or more points in all five of the Greyhounds’ games, and he already has three 30-plus point efforts.
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) has 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.
20-Plus, Five In A Row
Prior to Cormier, Gerald Brown was the most recent Greyhound to score 20 or more in five or more games. He did so in six outings, from December 30-January 15, 2006-2007.
Brown finished that season, his junior campaign, averaging 22.7 points per game.
Slowing A Leading Scorer
Led by Dylon Cormier, who drew primary guarding responsibility, Loyola held Connecticut standout Shabazz Napier to just four points.
Napier, who was named to the All-American Athletic Conference Preseason First Team and was the reigning AAC Player of the Week, was 2-of-7 from the floor, and 0-of-1 from 3-point range in 33 minutes of action.
The 2012 All-Big East First Team honoree and member of this year’s John Wooden Award watch list entered the Loyola game averaging 16.8 points per game this season.
Improved Rebounding Performance
After being outrebounded by 25 and 19 in its two previous games – Fairfield and at UMBC – Loyola outrebounded then-No. 13 Connecticut, 40-39, last Tuesday in Hartford.
The Greyhounds had combined for just 54 rebounds in their previous two games, logging a season-low 23 against Fairfield and 31 versus the Retrievers. The 39 rebounds collected by UConn were the second fewest a Loyola opponent finished with this season (32 at Binghamton).
Need Better Second Chance Conversion
Part of Loyola’s outrebounding of Connecticut was the fact that the Greyhounds grabbed 20 offensive boards to the Huskies’ 10.
Loyola, however, converted the 20 offensive rebounds into just 16 second-chance points.
Eric Laster scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half against Connecticut to lead all scorers at the break.
Laster made 1-of-2 attempts from behind the arc before halftime and also hit all three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt.
Through the end of November, Laster is second in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage, making 64.7 percent of his attempts (11-of-17).
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. He tied for the team lead in minutes played (34) at Cornell, and he scored in double figures (10) for the first time as a collegian.
Laster has averaged 9.8 points in Loyola’s first five contests, and he is shooting 45.7 percent overall from the field. In 27 games last year, he averaged just 0.8 points (22 total) and shot 32.3 percent from the field.
New Addition To The Family
Less than 24 hours after Loyola’s come-from-behind victory at UMBC, the Greyhounds had a new addition to their family. Head Coach G.G. Smith’s wife gave birth to the couple’s second child and first son, Ross Patrick Smith, on Thursday, November 21.
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.
In each of the last two seasons, Loyola’s largest deficits overcome in wins were those of 15 points. Last year, Loyola trailed Boston University by 15 in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament only to rally for a victory.
During the 2011-2012 season, the Greyhounds were down by 15 at Fairfield but came back to win.
Both times, the Greyhounds’ largest deficit came with more than 15 minutes left in the game.
Laster From Deep
Eric Laster’s 3-point shooting made the Greyhounds’ comeback attempt a reality last week at UMBC. The sophomore guard hit four threes in a 41-second span with less than 90 seconds left in regulation.
His first three came on a pull-up in transition at the 1:23 mark, and the second was off an R.J. Williams assist at 1:14. Laster knocked down his third from the top left side with 47 ticks left on the clock, and he took a Dylon Cormier pass five seconds later – after Cormier stole the ball in the backcourt – to knock down his final shot that pulled Loyola within a point, 76-75.
Laster finished the game with five threes – he hit one in the first half – a career-high. Entering the game, Laster had hit just six 3-pointers, five this season and one limited action last year.
Making A Point
R.J. Williams has continued his solid play at point guard for the Greyhounds, scoring 10 points in each of the last two games.
The junior also had six assists and a game-high four assists versus Connecticut.
At The Line
Loyola has gone to the free-throw line an average of 29.0 times per game this season while converting 20.4 per game. Overall, the Greyhounds are shooting 70.3 percent from the charity stripe, making 102-of-145.
Last season, Loyola went to the line 716 times, an average of 22.4 per game (tied for 46th in the nation). The Greyhounds thus far have raised their free-throw percentage by three percent from 68.3 last year.
Cormier Near The Top
Dylon Cormier has shot 58 free throws through four games, making 40 (69.0 percent). He is averaging 11.6 free-throw attempts per game this season, fourth-most in the nation through November 29. The Greyhounds are guaranteed at least 30 games this season (29 regular-season and at least one in the Patriot League Championships); at this pace, Cormier 348 free throws.
The single-season record for free throws attempted at Loyola is 255, set in 1997-1998 by Mike Powell.
Cormier has attempted 527 free throws in his career thus far, seventh most in school history. His 373 made are also seventh on the Loyola career charts.
Last year, he was 172-of-232 (74.1 percent) from the line, taking an average of 6.8 free throws per game.
Down The Stretch
In its first five games, Loyola has trailed at the 10-minute mark in regulation during three of its four wins and four games overall, but the Greyhounds have excelled down the stretch.
The Greyhounds have outscored their opponents 27.4-19.6 (137-98) in the final 10 minutes of games (final 10 minutes of regulation or final five of regulation and five overtime minutes). During that span, Loyola is shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. Meanwhile, the Greyhounds’ defense has held opponents to 35.7 percent from the field and just 29.2 percent from behind the arc. Loyola has forced 23 opponent turnovers, 15 by way of Greyhounds steals.
As good as Dylon Cormier has been this season, he has been at his best during the waning minutes of games. In the final 10 minutes of Loyola’s first three contests, Cormier has scored 55 points, just 43 points less than Loyola’s opponents have scored in that stretch.
The Difference A Year Makes
When talking about his coaching philosophies, first-year head coach G.G. Smith has said that he would like the team to play a bit faster on the offensive end than in past years, and that was shown in the four games.
The Greyhounds’ 77.2 points per game in their first five is almost 10 points higher than last year’s average of 66.9.
Conversely, it has led Loyola to allowing more points, 74.8, considerably higher than last year’s 63.5 points per game.
Jordan Latham’s two blocked shots at UMBC brought his Loyola career total to 62, moving him into a tie for seventh all-time at the school. He is now tied with former teammate Julius Brooks (2009-2013). With 13 more swats, Latham will match Omari Israel for sixth place with 75.
Low FG Percentage In A Win
Loyola shot just 34.1 percent from the field against Fairfield, but the Greyhounds squeezed out the win, 59-52, thanks to a 24-of-34 night from the free-throw line.
The game was reminiscent in many ways of the another recent game against Fairfield. The last time Loyola won a game when shooting 34.1 percent or lower was when it went 15-of-45 from the field (33.3 percent) to beat Stags, 48-44, on March 5, 2012, in the MAAC Championship Game. The win advanced Loyola to its first NCAA Tournament in 18 seasons.
Cormier Earns League Honors
Dylon Cormier had a career-high setting opening weekend in the Greyhounds’ victories over Binghamton University and Cornell University, and he was named the Anaconda Sports Patriot League Player of the Week on Monday for his efforts.
He earned the honor again on Monday, November 25, after his 34-point effort in the come-from-behind win at UMBC.
Cormier’s 30+ Point Games
Dylon Cormier is the first player in Loyola men’s basketball history to post two 30+ point games to start the season.
He is the first Loyola player to score 30 or more in back-to-back outings since Andre 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.
Jones Breaks Out
Jarred Jones 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).
The sophomore carries Loyola’s offense in the first half when it was otherwise stagnant, scoring nine points in just over five minutes. During that span, Loyola scored just two other points, but a Jones layup at 11:12 closed the Binghamton lead to four.
Jones tied for game-high, and led Loyola, with six offensive rebounds. His boards led to 10 Greyhounds points.
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.
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.
Meet The Staff
Joining G.G. Smith on the Greyhounds’ bench this season will be assistant coaches Keith Booth, Josh Loeffler and Dan Ficke and director of operations Kevin Farrell.
Booth spent the last two seasons as an assistant women’s coach at Loyola after serving as an assistant to Gary Williams for seven years at the University of Maryland. An All-American and four-time All-ACC player at Maryland, Booth won an NBA Championship with the Chicago Bulls.
Loeffler brings considerable Patriot League experience with four seasons, and two League Championship Game appearances (2010 and 2011), at Lafayette College. He was also the head coach at NCAA Division III school Stevens Institute of Technology from guided the Ducks to a 46-13 record in two seasons and an NCAA Sweet 16 bid in 2007.
Ficke is a graduate and four-year lettermen of Loyola where he also earned his master’s degree. The last three seasons, Ficke has been a member of the staff at Wake Forest University where he was the Special Assistant to the Head Coach and Director of Scouting and Recruiting.
Farrell returns for his second season as the Greyhounds’ director of operations and sixth overall with the program. He was a four-year manager for the team as an undergraduate at Loyola.
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.
New Year, New Coach, New League
In addition to sporting a new coach, Loyola will also be a member of the Patriot League for the first time in 2013-2014. The school announced in August 2012 that it would make the move to the conference, and the move became official on July 1, 2013.
The Greyhounds will compete against American University, fellow Patriot League newcomer Boston University, Bucknell University, Colgate University, College of the Holy Cross, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy.
Preseason Patriot League Picks
Loyola senior guard Dylon Cormier was one of five players named to the Preseason All-Patriot League First Team, an honor shared by Bucknell’s Cameron Ayers, Holy Cross’ Dave Dudzinski, Boston University’s D.J. Irving (player of the year) and Lehigh’s Mackey McKnight.
As a team, the Greyhounds were slated to finish fifth, 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:
||Joel Hittelman 1,360
|Field Goals Made
||448 field goals made
||Erik Etherly, 450
||86 3-Pt. Made
||Teron Owens, 92
|Free Throws Made
||373 free throws made
||Mike Krawcyzk, 394
||Mark Rhode, 179
||Mike Powell, 154
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.
Loyola returns to Reitz Arena for the first time during the month of December for a 7:30 p.m. game on Wednesday night against Catholic University of American. The game will air live on the Patriot League Network.