Nov. 7, 2012
TOLEDO (0-0) at LOYOLA (0-0)
November 9, 2012 - 7 p.m.
Chicago, Ill. - Gentile Arena
Radio: www.loyolaramblers.com - John Fitzgerald (play-by-play); Stephond Robinson (analyst)
Live Video: www.horizonleague.com
Loyola is set to tip off its 95th season of men's basketball and has gone 72-22 (.766) all-time in season openers.
This year Loyola will have a season-long celebration to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its 1963 NCAA Championship. To this day, Loyola remains the only school in the state of Illinois to have won the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.
Loyola's 16-player roster has accumulated only 16 combined years of post-high school basketball experience tying it with Horizon League rival Wright State as the sixth-youngest team in NCAA Division I for 2012-13.
Three of Loyola's first six games will come against members of the Mid-American Conference.
Over the last three seasons, Loyola has gone 12-5 (.706) in November.
The Ramblers open up the 2012-13 season in grueling fashion by playing five games in 10 days.
Ben Averkamp was a Preseason Second Team All-Horizon League selection this year for the second straight campaign. Last season, he garnered Second Team All-Horizon League honors to become the Ramblers' first all-conference performer since Blake Schilb (2006-07).
Cully Payne is expected to open the season as the team's starting point guard. He would become the first transfer from a four-year school to start on opening night for Loyola since Ross Forman in 2007.
Loyola took a 13-day trip to Italy in August and played four games, going 3-1 overseas.
A bobblehead of legendary head coach George Ireland will be given away to the first 700 students at Friday's game and the Loyola men's golf team will receive its 2012 Horizon League Championship rings in a halftime ceremony.
ABOUT THE ROCKETS
Toledo is coming off of a 19-17 season, in which it participated in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, a year ago. Under the direction of former Green Bay head coach Tod Kowalczyk, the Rockets closed out the 2011-12 season with a flourish, winning nine of their final 13 outings after getting off to a 10-13 start. Junior guard Rian Pearson, who followed Kowalczyk from Green Bay, led Toledo with 16.7 ppg and 8.3 rpg last season and was a Second Team All-Mid-American Conference selection. Toledo's roster features three Chicago area natives - Nathan Boothe (Gurnee, Ill./Warren), Julius Brown (Markham, Ill./Hillcrest), and DeLino Dear (Chicago, Ill./Mount Carmel).
This is the 30th meeting between Loyola and Toledo in a series that began in 1937. The Rockets lay claim to a 16-13 advantage in the all-time series between the schools, but Loyola has emerged victorious in each of the last four outings, including a 57-55 victory at Savage Hall in Toledo, Ohio, last December. In that game, despite having just six healthy scholarship players available, the Ramblers erased a 14-point, second-half deficit to win 57-55 on Ben Averkamp's jumper from the corner at the buzzer. Averkamp finished the contest with a career-best 31 points and although he took more than half of his team's shots from the field (26 of 49), drained 13 of his field goal attempts on the day. Loyola is 7-4 all-time against Toledo when playing in Chicago and earned a 78-66 victory the last time the teams met in the Windy City on December 18, 1984.
Loyola is 121-118 (.506) all-time versus current members of the Mid-American Conference and has won six straight outings against MAC opponents since suffering a 63-61 setback to Western Michigan at Gentile Arena on November 16, 2007. Fifty-five of the Ramblers' wins over MAC foes have come versus long-time rival Western Michigan, against which Loyola is 55-40 all time.
AIN'T IT GRAND
Senior Ben Averkamp needs 11 points to become the 39th player in Loyola history to have scored 1,000 for his career. The 6-foot-8 forward enters the 2012-13 campaign with 989 career points and in addition to closing in on the 1,000-point plateau, the Germantown, Wis., native is also just 27 rebounds shy of 500 for his career. Only 18 players in school history have totaled at least 1,000 points and 500 rebounds, most recently Walt Gibler, who reached both milestones last season.
Averkamp is one of 15 players in NCAA Division I who enters the season with a legitimate chance of topping 1,000 points, 750 rebounds, 100 assists and 100 blocks for his career. Heading into the 2012-13 season, he has recorded 989 points, 473 rebounds, 140 assists and 119 blocks. Two other Horizon League players are closing in on those figures - Valparaiso's Ryan Broekhoff (1,074 points, 601 rebounds, 171 assists, 95 blocks) and Green Bay's Alec Brown (739 points, 425 rebounds, 39 assists and 156 blocks).
This marks the fifth time in the history of the program, and the first since 2004-05 that Loyola is opening a season versus a team from the Mid-American Conference. The last time the Ramblers raised the curtain on a season by facing a MAC opponent was 2004-05 when they slid past Northern Illinois, 63-56. Loyola is 2-2 in season openers against MAC foes.
LOYOLA IN LID LIFTERS
Loyola is 72-22 (.766) all-time in season openers including 53-14 (.791) in the Post-World-War-II Era. The Ramblers have won 12 of their last 13 season openers when playing those games at home with the only loss coming at the hands of Rockhurst on November 14, 2008. In eight previous season openers as a head coach, second-year Rambler bench boss Porter Moser is 4-4.
Although it ranked 330 out of 338 NCAA Division I teams last season with 57.2 points per game, Loyola did begin to find itself at the offensive end of the floor in the final week of the year. Over the last three games of the 2011-12 campaign, the Ramblers put up 70.0 ppg and shot 49 percent (73 for 150) from the field, 40 percent (16 for 40) from three-point range, and 72 percent (48 for 67) from the foul line after managing just 55.8 ppg, on 40 percent (539 for 1,032) from the field, 30 percent (101 for 337) from long distance, and 69 percent (328 for 473) from the charity stripe in the season's first 27 contests. With a much deeper roster this season, Loyola averaged 82.3 points during its four-game trip to Italy in August.
Fifth-year senior Jordan Hicks is one of only two seniors on the roster and he is starting the season healthy for just the second time since his freshman year in 2008-09. When the 6-foot-6 guard/forward last opened a season fully healthy, in 2009-10, he got off to a terrific start before his season prematurely came to an end due to a broken foot after nine games. In opening the 2009-10 campaign, Hicks contributed 15.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.8 apg and shot 60 percent (28 for 47) from the field, including 48 percent (10 for 21) from triple territory, in the season's first five games.
Hicks missed the first 10 games of 2011-12 due to a foot injury and after taking a few weeks to find his rhythm, was a key contributor for the Ramblers. In his last three appearances, the Rochester, Minn., is tallying 12.3 ppg and 3.0 rpg, while connecting on 59 percent (16 for 27) on his attempts from the field and 38 percent (3 for 8) from long range. He has scored in double digits in his last three outings and has drained 16 of his last 20 (.800) shots from the free throw stripe. His best season-opening effort came against Eastern Kentucky in 2010 when he tossed in 10 points, on 4 of 7 shooting from the field, and pulled in five rebounds in the Ramblers' 73-57 victory.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE
One year ago, guard Joe Crisman ranked tied for second among all Horizon League freshmen with 8.5 ppg, a figure that ranked third on the team. This season, the 6-foot-4 Munster, Ind., native is looking to get off to a start similar to last November when he averaged 11.0 ppg and 3.0 rpg through the first five contests. When Crisman was a key contributor at the offensive end of the floor last year, it bode well for the Ramblers as he managed 10.3 ppg and shot a blistering 58 percent (14 for 24) from the field in Loyola's victories.
JOE AT THE JOE
In two non-conference home games in his young career, Crisman has been at his best, accounting for 14.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, and 2.5 spg, while knocking down 48 percent (11 for 23) of his shots from the field, including a sizzling 50 percent (4 for 8) from beyond the arc. In his final seven games at Gentile Arena last year, the sophomore put up 10.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.7 apg, and 1.0 spg, burying 52 percent (27 for 52) of his field goal attempts and 50 percent (9 for 18) of his triple tries.
THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS
St. Louis, Mo., native Christian Thomas is arguably the most improved player on the Loyola roster this season. The sophomore made 14 starts a year ago and in a 57-55 win at Toledo on December 10, 2011, tossed in nine points and corralled 13 rebounds, the most by a Rambler freshman since 2005. Over the final 10 games of the 2011-12 campaign, Thomas drained 68 percent (17 for 25) of his field goal attempts and after opening the year just 13 for 24 (.542) from the charity stripe, knocked down 30 of his final 36 (.833) free tosses.
BEN AT WORK
Last season, Ben Averkamp blossomed into one of the top players in the Horizon League and this season has a chance to vie for player of the year accolades. Last winter, the 6-foot-8 forward scored in double figures on 21 occasions, 10 times topping the 20-point plateau. He enters this season having scored in double digits in nine consecutive contests and in his last six non-conference outings, is putting up 22.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.7 apg and shooting 53 percent (56 for 106) from the field, 35 percent (6 for 17) from long distance, and 86 percent (18 for 21) from the charity stripe. Over his last six games overall, the team captain is producing 20.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.0 spg and is converting 53 percent (48 for 90) of his tries from the field and 43 percent (6 for 14) from beyond the arc. In his last three games at Gentile Arena, Averkamp is notching 19.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, and 1.0 bpg. On opening night in his Loyola career, Averkamp has collected 10.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 2.3 apg.
MAKING THE GRADE
In addition to his exploits on the hardwood, Averkamp also is an exceptional student and campus leader who defines the term "student-athlete." Last month, the senior forward was named one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to the NCAA Division I senior with notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, character, classroom and competition. Among the select group of individuals on that list are Isaiah Canaan (Murray State), Drew Crawford (Northwestern), C.J. McCollum (Lehigh), Brandon Paul (Illinois) and Miles Plumlee (Duke), among others. In addition to being a Capital One Academic All-District V selection last year, Averkamp also was named to the Horizon League Men's Basketball All-Academic Team, National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Honors Court, I-AAA Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete Team, National Jesuit Men's Basketball All-Academic Team, and Horizon League Academic Honor Roll.
HOUSE OF PAYNE
Junior point guard Cully Payne is eligible after sitting out last season following his transfer from the University of Iowa. A native of Schaumburg, Ill., Payne was a Sporting News All-Big Ten Freshman Team pick in 2009-10 after recording 8.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, and 3.8 apg. On Loyola's summer trip to Italy, the 6-foot-1 guard doled out 9.7 apg. Payne is expected to start at point guard in Friday's opener versus Toledo and he would become Loyola's first transfer from a four-year college to start in his Rambler debut since Ross Forman in 2007.
This marks the earliest start date (Nov. 9) for a Loyola basketball season in the 95-year history of the program.
GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY OF GREATNESS
The 2012-13 season marks the 50th anniversary of Loyola's 1963 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. To this day, Loyola remains the only school in the state of Illinois to have won a NCAA Division I men's basketball title. A season-long celebration is planned to commemorate the remarkable accomplishments of that team. At Friday's season opener versus Toledo, the first 700 students will receive a free George Ireland bobblehead, while another 250 of the collector's items will be available for purchase by the general public for $5 each.
On December 15, Loyola and Mississippi State will play at Gentile Arena in the first meeting between the schools in 50 years. When the teams last met, on March 15, 1963, in East Lansing, Mich., in the NCAA Tournament, it proved to be a landmark moment in the civil rights movement. Mississippi State was able to sneak out of Starkville, Miss., under the cover of darkness before an injunction could be served by Gov. Ross Barnett that would prevent the team from competing against an integrated Loyola squad that featured four African-American starters (Jerry Harkness, Les Hunter, Ron Miller and Vic Rouse). A documentary, appropriately titled "Game of Change," about the 1963 game between Loyola and Mississippi State was produced by Jerald Harkness, son of former Loyola All-American Jerry Harkness, a few years ago.
Loyola's 2012-13 roster, which is tied with Wright State for the sixth-youngest in NCAA Division I, features nine newcomers, including seven freshmen. One of those newcomers is Chicago native and Marshall High School product Milton Doyle, who gives the Ramblers their first player from the Chicago Public League since Demetrius Williams (King High School) in 2003-04.
Second-year assistant coach Armon Gates played in six games against Toledo during his career as a player at Kent State (2003-07) and averaged 7.7 ppg and 1.8 rpg, connecting on 47 percent (15 for 32) of his field goal attempts and 47 percent (14 for 30) of his triple tries. His best performance versus the Rockets came on January 29, 2005, when he fired in 18 points, hitting 6 of 11 shots from beyond the arc.
In August, Loyola took a 13-day trip to Italy, where it played four games and visited a handful of cities (Rome, Florence, Venice, Como and Pisa). During that trip, the team soaked up the Italian culture, did plenty of sightseeing, and used the time to bond as a team both on and off the court. The Ramblers posted a 3-1 ledger on their four-game trip to Italy and three newcomers - Jeff White (11.7 ppg), Matt O'Leary (11.3 ppg) and Devon Turk (11.3 ppg) - averaged double figures in scoring, while Cully Payne handed out 9.7 apg, three times hitting double digits in helpers.
LOYOLA MEN'S GOLF TO BE HONORED
At halftime of Friday's game versus Toledo, the Loyola men's golf team will receive its 2012 Horizon League Championship rings and be honored after earning the program's first-ever NCAA Regional berth last spring. In fact, the Ramblers' title last April gave Loyola its first-ever NCAA appearance in a spring sport.
RAMBLERS ON THE RADIO
All Loyola men's basketball games can be heard this season on the Rambler Network, which is available at www.loyolaramblers.com by clicking on the Rambler Network tab on the home page.