Nov. 18, 2012
LOYOLA (2-2) vs. UM-EASTERN SHORE (0-5)
November 18, 2012 - 12 p.m. EST
Tampa, Fla. - Sun Dome
Radio: www.loyolaramblers.com - John Fitzgerald (play-by-play)
Live Video: None
THE OPENING TIP
Loyola will try to snap a two-game losing skid when it meets Maryland-Eastern Shore in the final game of the USF Invitational Sunday afternoon.
In its two wins, Loyola has held opponents to a meager 45.5 ppg and 33 percent (37 for 112) from the field, while in its two setbacks, has surrendered 74.5 ppg and seen its foes shoot 51 percent (49 for 96).
Over the last three seasons, Loyola has gone 14-7 (.667) in November.
Sunday's game closes out a grueling, season-opening stretch during which the Ramblers will have played five games in 10 days.
Friday 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.
Ben Averkamp needs three rebounds to become just the 19th player in Loyola history with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds.
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 10 of its last 11 games played away from Gentile Arena.
ABOUT THE HAWKS
Maryland-Eastern Shore, which is in the midst of a season-opening, 12-game road trip, is still seeking its first win of the 2012-13 campaign and its five losses have come by an average of 14.6 points. Sophomore guard Kyree Jones is the lone Hawk scoring in double digits, at a team-best 13.8 ppg clip. Opponents are shooting a sizzling 55 percent (110 for 201) from inside the arc against UMES this season, while the Hawks have knocked down just 33 percent (97 for 291) of their shots overall, including a paltry 21 percent (22 for 107) from three-point land. Junior forward Troy Snyder (9.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg), a transfer from Green Bay, is a native of Bolingbrook, Ill.
This is just the second meeting between Loyola and Maryland-Eastern Shore and the first since the Ramblers collected a 79-54 victory on December 8, 2001. Jonathan Freeman and Vasilis Tsimpliaridis accounted for 15 points apiece and David Bailey pitched in 14 as the Ramblers outscored the Hawks, 51-25, and shot 57 percent in the second half. Loyola is 8-1 all-time against current members of the Mid-Eastern Atlantic 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 charges are surrendering only 60.0 ppg through the first four 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 yielded 81 points to Western Michigan Friday night, 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 31st on the school's career scoring chart with 1,053 points, the 6-foot-8 Preseason Second Team All-Horizon League pick needs 23 points to tie Earl Brown for 30th all-time with 1,076 points. Averkamp is also closing in on another milestone as he enters Sunday's game versus Maryland-Eastern Shore needing only three 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 Maryland-Eastern Shore game, he has recorded 1,053 points, 497 rebounds, 144 assists and 126 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 (770 points, 452 rebounds, 42 assists and 162 blocks).
CHARITY HAS RUN DRY
Through the first four games, Loyola is averaging a mere 11.0 trip to the foul line per game, down seven attempts per contest from a year ago. The Ramblers have yet to attempt more than 15 charity tosses in a game this year.
THE "D" IS THE KEY
One need not look further than the opponent's offensive figures to see how the Ramblers have fared this season. In its two victories, Loyola has permitted only 45.5 ppg and held opponents to 33 percent (37 for 112) from the field and 22 percent (6 for 27) from long range. However, in its two setbacks, the Ramblers have allowed 74.5 ppg as opponents have connected on 51 percent (49 for 96) from both the field and three-point territory (18 for 35).
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 11 November appearances, the 6-foot-6, fifth-year senior is contributing 11.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.7 apg, and is shooting 53 percent (46 for 87) from the field and 40 percent (16 for 40) from three-point territory. In Loyola's 81-71 loss to Western Michigan Friday 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 three games away from home, the Rochester, Minn., native is accounting for 11.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.7 apg, and is shooting a blistering 57 percent (13 for 23) from the field and 58 percent (7 for 12) from long range. Hicks, an only child whose mother is a breast cancer survivor, is averaging 10.0 ppg and shooting 62 percent (8 for 13) from the field and 57 percent (4 for 7) from beyond the arc at the USF Invitational.
Freshman Devon Turk is one of many rookies to make sizable contributions early this season. The 6-foot-4 sharp-shooter dropped in a season-high nine points against South Florida last night, hitting 3 of 6 shots from long distance and he is one of only two Ramblers (Jordan Hicks being the other) to knock down at least one three-pointer in each game this year. The Houston native, who owns a 5.0 assist-to-turnover ratio, has shot 57 percent (4 for 7) from long range at this weekend's USF Invitational.
O'LEARY PROVIDES THE "O"
Forward Matt O'Leary has made quite an impact in his first week as a Rambler and enters Sunday's game against Maryland-Eastern Shore averaging 8.8 ppg and 4.0 rpg, totals that rank second on the team behind only Ben Averkamp's 16.0 ppg and 6.0 rpg. His 30 points were 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. Friday night versus Western Michigan, 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.
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. Friday 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 10 games and over that 10-game stretch is contributing 18.9 ppg to go with 6.8 rpg, 2.7 apg and 1.2 bpg, while draining field goals at a 52 percent rate (71 for 136).
IN WITH THE NEW
Loyola's heralded crop of newcomers has provided immediate results and is accounting for 48 percent (118 of 247 points) of the team's offense through the first four games of the year. In fact, three true freshmen are pitching in at least 5.3 ppg - Matt O'Leary (8.8 ppg), Tanner Williams (6.7 ppg), and Devon Turk (5.3 ppg).
Through four games, Loyola's bench has provided a huge boost and totaled 103 of the team's 247 points (42 percent). To show how far the team's depth has come, last season it took the Ramblers until the 14th game of the year, a December 31 contest versus Detroit, to get their 103rd point from the reserves. Freshman Matt O'Leary (8.8 ppg) ranks second on the team in scoring despite coming off the bench in all four games.
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 19.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.8 apg and shooting 52 percent (45 for 86) overall and 50 percent (7 for 14) from three-point land in his last six 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 Friday night against Western Michigan, his most since misdirecting four shots against Kansas State on December 11, 2010. He is racking up 20.0 ppg and 7.1 rpg in Loyola's last nine outings versus non-Horizon League members. The Germantown, Wis., native has scored in double digits 12 times in his last 13 appearances and his scoring is critical to the team's success as the Ramblers have dropped nine straight games, including last night's 68-50 loss to South Florida, when Averkamp scores fewer than 10 points.
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 41 of his collegiate appearances. Friday night, he dropped a career-best nine dimes against Western Michigan and in the last three outings, has handed out 14 assists against six turnovers. He has buried 24 of his last 25 (.960) foul shots and is seven career neutral site appearances, is pitching in 9.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg and 3.4 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.
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 South Florida, the Ramblers are knocking down their freebies at a .773 clip and and Christian Thomas enters Sunday's contest having converted his last nine shots from the charity stripe.
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.