Nov. 17, 2012
LOYOLA (2-1) at SOUTH FLORIDA (1-1)
November 17, 2012 - 7:30 p.m. EST
Tampa, Fla. - Sun Dome
Radio: www.loyolaramblers.com - John Fitzgerald (play-by-play)
Live Video: None
THE OPENING TIP
Loyola will play the first of four BCS conference foes on its 2012-13 schedule when it visits South Florida Saturday night.
Saturday's game is the Ramblers' first versus an opponent from the Sunshine State since a December 20, 1993 meeting with Bethune-Cookman.
Over the last three seasons, Loyola has gone 14-6 (.700) in November.
The Ramblers are in the middle of a grueling opening of the season during which they play five games in 10 days.
Last night versus Western Michigan, Loyola knocked down 11 three-point field goals, the most since November 13, 2010, when it also buried 11 against Indiana State.
Amazingly, this is Loyola's first-ever trip to the state of Florida in the program's 95-year history.
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 nine of its last 10 games played away from Gentile Arena.
Ben Averkamp needs six rebounds to become just the 19th player in Loyola history with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in his career.
ABOUT THE BULLS
USF rebounded from a season-opening loss to Central Florida by rolling past Maryland-Eastern Shore, 78-59, last night. Led by senior guard Jawanza Poland, the Bulls are coming off a historic 2011-12 campaign in which they went 22-14 and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament. One intriguing player on the USF roster is 7-foot-, 334-pound, red-shirt freshman Jordan Omogbehin, who totaled six points and three rebounds against UMES last night.
This is the first-ever meeting between Loyola and South Florida but the Ramblers are 80-146 (.354) all-time against current members of the BIG EAST Conference. In fact, the Ramblers' last win versus a BIG EAST foe was a 70-58 decision over Notre Dame on January 24, 1994. Fifty-two of Loyola's 80 wins against BIG EAST members have come versus DePaul (17) and Marquette (35). Moser is 2-4 in his head coaching career versus BIG EAST opponents, with both of those wins coming against St. John's.
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 charges are surrendering only 57.3 ppg through the first three games. 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 was 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. Despite that defensive brilliance in the first two contests, Loyola surrendered 81 points, the most allowed under Moser at Loyola.
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 32nd on the school's career scoring chart with 1,044 points, the 6-foot-8 Preseason Second Team All-Horizon League pick needs two points to tie Nick Kladis and Eric Dolezal for 31st all-time with 1,046 points. Averkamp is also closing in on another milestone as he enters Saturday's game versus USF needing only six 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 USF game, he has recorded 1,044 points, 494 rebounds, 144 assists and 125 blocks. Two other Horizon League players are closing in on those figures - Valparaiso's Ryan Broekhoff (1,116 points, 627 rebounds, 175 assists, 96 blocks) and Green Bay's Alec Brown (758 points, 445 rebounds, 41 assists and 161 blocks).
Through three games, Loyola's bench has provided a huge boost and totaled 77 of the team's 197 points (39 percent). To show how far the team's depth has come, last season it took the Ramblers until the 12th game of the year, a December 22 contest at Canisius, to get their 77th point from the reserves. Freshman Matt O'Leary (10.0 ppg) ranks second on the team in scoring despite coming off the bench in all three games.
Although the season is still just a week old, the Ramblers have shown to be a much-improved team when it comes to shooting the basketball, no matter where it is from on the court. Through three games, Loyola is connecting on 45 percent (72 for 159) of its field goal attempts, 40 percent (21 for 53) of its three-point tries, and 82 percent (32 for 39) of its foul shots. A year ago, the Ramblers shot only 42 percent (612 for 1,452) from the field, 31 percent (117 for 377) from long distance, and 70 percent (376 for 540) from the charity stripe.
Healthy to start a season for just the second time in his five seasons at Loyola, Jordan Hicks, one of only two seniors on the roster, has gotten off to fast starts when starting the season on time. In his last 10 November appearances, the 6-foot-6, fifth-year senior is contributing 11.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, and is shooting 53 percent (43 for 81) from the field and 41 percent (15 for 37) from three-point territory. In Loyola's 81-71 loss to Western Michigan last night, Hicks poured in a season-high 13 points, his best output against a non-Horizon League foe since torching Western Michigan for 21 points on November 20, 2010. In his last two games away from home, the Rochester, Minn., native is accounting for 13.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, and is shooting a blistering 59 percent (10 for 17) from the field and 67 percent (6 for 9) from long range. Hicks, an only child whose mother is a breast cancer survivor, is averaging 10.7 ppg and shooting 57 percent (27 for 47) from the field in his last six appearances dating back to last season.
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 10.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.4 apg and 1.4 spg, while shooting 46 percent (33 for 72) from the field in his last eight 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. He totaled 10 points in last Friday's season-opening win against Toledo.
O'LEARY PROVIDES THE "O"
Forward Matt O'Leary has made quite an impact in his first week as a Rambler and enters Saturday's game at USF averaging 10.0 ppg and 4.3 rpg, totals that rank second on the team behind only Ben Averkamp's 18.3 ppg and 7.0 rpg. His 30 points are the most by a Loyola true freshman through the first three games since J.R. Blount (36) and Leon Young (32) both turned the trick in 2005-06. Last night, O'Leary scored a season-best 14 points off the bench, and his four triples are the most by a Rambler true freshman since Dave Telander dropped in four threes at North Carolina on December 12, 2004. If the 6-foot-8 Terre Haute, Ind., native can maintain his current scoring rate, he would become the first Loyola freshman to average double-figures since 2005-06 (J.R. Blount - 11.3 ppg; Leon Young - 10.4 ppg).
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.
Averkamp has emerged as a bona fide scorer since the start of the 2011-12 campaign, 12 times scoring 20 or more points after failing to score more than 19 points in a game in his first two seasons at Loyola. Last night, he dropped 24 points, the third-highest output of his accomplished career, on Western Michigan. The senior forward has topped the 20-point plateau five times in his last nine games and over that nine-game stretch is contributing 20.0 ppg to go with 7.2 rpg, 3.0 apg and 1.2 bpg, while draining field goals at a 52 percent rate (67 for 128).
IN WITH THE NEW
Loyola's heralded crop of newcomers has provided immediate results and is accounting for 45 percent (88 of 197 points) of the team's offense through the first three games of the year. In fact, three true freshmen are pitching in at least 6.0 ppg - Matt O'Leary (10.0 ppg), Jeff White (6.0 ppg), and Tanner Williams (6.0 ppg).
Saturday's game at USF is the first of four games versus BCS conference opponents that are on the Ramblers' 2012-13 schedule. This is the first time since 1993-94 Loyola has played four or more BCS conference foes. That season, the Ramblers tackled DePaul, Northwestern, and Notre Dame (twice).
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. A 2011-12 Second Team All-Horizon League honoree, the 6-foot-8 captain is putting up 21.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.8 apg and shooting 53 percent (41 for 78) overall and 46 percent (6 for 13) from three-point land in his last five games played away from Gentile Arena. One of only two players to rank among the top five in the Horizon League in both scoring (15.4) and rebounding (7.1) a year ago, Averkamp turned away four shots last night against Western Michigan, his most since misdirecting four shots against Kansas State on December 11, 2010. At his best against top competition, Averkamp is contributing 13.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.8 apg and 1.2 bpg in his last five appearances against BCS conference opponents. Last season, he spring for 19 points and seven boards at Kansas State. He is racking up 21.4 ppg and 7.6 rpg in Loyola's last eight outings versus non-Horizon League members.
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 40 of his collegiate appearances. Last night, he dropped a career-best nine dimes and in the last two outings, has handed out 12 assists against two turnovers. Although he had a string of consecutive free throws snapped at 22 last night, he has buried 22 of his last 23 (.957) foul shots.
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.
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.
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.
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.
FREE FOR ALL
Through games of November 15, Loyola ranked tied for 11th in the nation with an .833 free throw percentage. Following last night's game versus Western Michigan, the Ramblers are knocking down their freebies at a .821 clip and Ben Averkamp (16) and Christian Thomas (9) carry significant consecutive free throw streaks into Saturday's game at USF.
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.