Nov. 14, 2012
WESTERN MICHIGAN (1-1) vs. LOYOLA (2-0)
November 16, 2012 - 5 p.m. EST
Tampa, Fla. - Sun Dome
Radio: www.loyolaramblers.com - John Fitzgerald (play-by-play); Stephond Robinson (analyst)
Live Video: None
Loyola opens play at the USF Invitational Friday evening when it faces long-time rival Western Michigan.
The Ramblers have won their last seven games versus Mid-American Conference foes since a 63-61 loss to Western Michigan on November 16, 2007. Three of those seven wins have come against the Broncos.
Over the last three seasons, Loyola has gone 14-5 (.737) in November.
The Ramblers are in the middle of a grueling opening of the season during which they play five games in 10 days.
Three of Loyola's first five contests of the 2012-13 season will come versus teams from the MAC. Loyola topped Toledo, 62-50, on opening night last Friday.
Loyola is playing on a neutral floor for the first time since facing Cornell in Jamaica, N.Y., in the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off on November 24, 2008.
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.
Under second-year coach Porter Moser, Loyola has yielded a meager 49.9 points per game in its nine victories since the start of the 2011-12 campaign.
Loyola has stumbled in eight of its last nine games played away from Gentile Arena.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS
Led by 6-foot-10 junior center Shayne Whittington (12.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg), Western Michigan has split its first two games of the 2012-13 season and is coming off an 85-40 pasting of Marygrove Tuesday night. Like Loyola, Western Michigan has a youthful roster this winter as it features eight freshmen. Last year, the Broncos posted a 14-20 overall record, and this season, 11th-year head coach Steve Hawkins' roster includes four players from the Chicago area.
Long-time rivals, with a series that dates all the way back to 1925, Loyola and Western Michigan are meeting for the 96th time overall and the first since November 20, 2010 in Kalamazoo, Mich. The Ramblers hold a 55-40 advantage in the all-time series and have won three straight meetings between the teams and 11 of the last 16. When the clubs last met, nearly two years ago to the day, Jordan Hicks exploded for 21 points and seven rebounds to power Loyola to an 82-64 victory in Kalamazoo. Loyola is 122-118 (.508) all-time against schools from the Mid-American Conference.
WHY SO DEFENSIVE?
An old adage says that defense wins championships. If that is true, the early returns for Porter Moser's squad are promising this season as his squad is surrendering only 45.5 ppg through the first two games. Through games of November 12, that total ranked second in the nation, behind only Mercer (30.5 ppg) for teams that have played more than one game this season. The 50 points allowed to Toledo is the fewest surrendered by a Loyola team in a season opener since 1961 when Assumption put up just 44 points and the 91 points allowed through the first two contests is the fewest to start a season since 1953-54 when the Ramblers kept their opponents in check to the tune of 84 points in the first two games.
With a pair of free throws at the 19:18 mark of the second half in last Friday's season opener against Toledo, senior forward Ben Averkamp became the 39th player in Loyola history to score 1,000 points. Now 37th on the school's career scoring chart with 1,020 points, the 6-foot-8 Preseason Second Team All-Horizon League pick needs three points to tie Ralph Vallot for 36th all-time with 1,023 points. Averkamp is also closing in on another milestone as he enters Friday's game versus Western Michigan needing 11 rebounds to become just the 19th player in Loyola annals to post both 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in his career. A year ago, forward Walt Gibler also joined that exclusive club.
Averkamp is one of 15 players in NCAA Division I who entered the season with a legitimate chance of topping 1,000 points, 750 rebounds, 100 assists and 100 blocks for his career. Heading into the Western Michigan game, he has recorded 1,020 points, 489 rebounds, 142 assists and 121 blocks. Two other Horizon League players are closing in on those figures - Valparaiso's Ryan Broekhoff (1,108 points, 617 rebounds, 174 assists, 96 blocks) and Green Bay's Alec Brown (741 points, 432 rebounds, 40 assists and 158 blocks).
FREE FOR ALL
As a team, Loyola has been nearly automatic from the free throw line this year, converting 83.3 percent (20 for 24) of its charity tosses. Junior guard Cully Payne brings a string of 22 consecutive free tosses made, dating back to the 2009-10 season, into this weekend's USF Invitational.
Although the season its just two games old at this point, Loyola's freshman class has already shown that it should have quite an impact this season, by accounting for 41 percent (52 of 126) of the team's points this month. After averaging double figures in scoring on the team's trip to Italy in August, Matt O'Leary and Jeff White have picked up where they left off, chipping in 8.0 ppg and 7.5 rpg respectively, through the season's first two outings.
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 and has improved its output to 63.0 ppg through two games this year.
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 year 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. A fast starter when healthy, the Rochester, Minn., native is collecting 11.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.6 apg and shooting 52 percent (38 for 74) from the field in his last nine games played in November. Dating back to last season, Hicks is producing 10.2 ppg, and shooting 55 percent (22 for 40) from the field in his last five appearances.
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. Crisman, who is averaging 11.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.6 apg and 1.6 spg, while shooting 46 percent (32 for 69) from the field in his last seven games versus non-Horizon League opponents, has been a key factor in Loyola's success during his brief career. Since arriving on campus last fall, the 6-foot-4 sophomore is contributing 9.2 ppg and shooting a sizzling 59 percent (20 for 34) from the field and 43 percent (6 for 14) from long distance in Rambler wins.
PAYNE, PICKETT SIGN FOR 2013-14 SEASON
Earlier this week, Loyola announced that Quinten Payne and Jordan Pickett had signed National Letters of Intent to attend the University and play basketball starting next fall. Payne, the younger brother of Loyola junior guard Cully Payne, is a 6-foot-4 guard who averaged 16.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg and 3.1 apg at St. Charles North High School in St. Charles, Ill., last season. A 6-foot-1 guard, Pickett put up gaudy numbers last year at University High School, going for 26.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.5 apg and 3.0 spg. Both players are ranked among the top 15 in their respective state by ESPN.
Freshman Matt O'Leary has been a solid contributor off the bench in each of the Ramblers' first two games and he ranks second on the team with both 8.0 ppg and 5.0 rpg. The 6-foot-8 forward chipped in eight points, seven rebounds and a pair of assists in 21 minutes off the bench against Toledo and those seven boards are the most by a Loyola true freshman in a season opener since Andy Polka corralled seven rebounds in the Ramblers' 68-57 win versus Princeton at the Black Coaches Association Classic in Columbus, Ohio on November 10, 2006.
MAYBE IT IS HOW YOU START
Getting off to a strong start has paved the way to success for Loyola in recent history as it has gone 21-1 (.955) when leading at the half since the start of the 2010-11 season. Since the outset of the 2008-09 campaign, the Ramblers are 42-6 (.875) when leading at the break.
Peoria, Ill., native Jeff White has made an immediate impact and is notching 7.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg and 3.0 apg through two games this season. The freshman guard totaled eight points, five assists and no turnovers in Monday's win versus Rockhurst and for the year is converting 58 percent (7 for 12) of his field goal attempts.
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. Dating back to last year he has scored in double digits in 11 consecutive contests and in his last eight non-conference outings, is putting up 20.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.3 apg and shooting 52 percent (67 for 127) from the field and 87 percent (27 for 31) from the charity stripe. Over his last seven games overall, the team captain is producing 20.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.6 apg and is converting 52 percent (53 for 102) of his tries from the field and 40 percent (6 for 15) from beyond the arc. In his last three road games versus non-Horizon League opponents, Averkamp is notching 24.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, and 1.0 bpg. The 2011-12 Second Team All-Horizon League honoree has connected on 28 of his last 32 (.875) attempts from the charity stripe dating back to last winter.
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. The first transfer from a four-year college to start in his Rambler debut since Ross Forman in 2007, Payne has earned the starting nod in all 39 of his collegiate appearances. Last Friday against Toledo, he was perfect from the foul line, going 7-for-7 and in Monday's win over Rockhurst, he played turnover-free basketball for just the third time in his career. In six career neutral site games, Payne is putting up 10.2 ppg and 2.5 apg.
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. Earlier this week, Loyola unveiled a website dedicated to the 1963 team, www.Loyola63.com. The site features articles, statistics, biographies, photos and video interviews with players from that historic squad.
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.
CALLING IN THE RESERVES
Moser has the luxury of having a much deeper bench this season and in the first weekend of the year, the Rambler reserves played a major factor in the team's victories, accounting for 52 points. Last season, it took Loyola's bench until the sixth game of the year, on December 1, to score its 52nd point. In fact, through the first 10 contests of 2011-12, the Ramblers could only scrounge up 62 points from their reserves. Dating back to last season, Loyola's bench mob has totaled 30 or more points three times in the last nine games.
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.
SUB SIXTY SPELLS SUCCESS
Since the start of the 2004-05 campaign, Loyola has posted a 50-13 (.794) record when it holds its opponent to fewer than 60 points.
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.