Nov. 21, 2013
LOYOLA (2-2) at PORTLAND STATE (1-1)
NOVEMBER 21, 2013 - PORTLAND, ORE.
5:30 p.m. PT - STOTT CENTER
THE OPENING TIP
Loyola heads to the West Coast for the first time since November 2010 when it travels to Portland, Ore., to compete in the four-team Portland State Tournament, November 22-24. The three-day event, which is hosted by Portland State and also features SIU Edwardsville and UC Davis, will be played with a traditional round-robin format.
The Ramblers will look to snap a seven-game losing skid on the road when they open the tournament by facing the host Vikings Friday night.
Loyola is in the middle of a grueling season-opening stretch in which it will play eight games in 24 days with six of those contests to be played away from home. Last year, the Ramblers opened in similar fashion, playing eight games in the first 23 days of the season.
Freshman guard Milton Doyle is off to a rousing start and leads the team with 18.5 ppg. Furthermore, the Chicago native is the first Loyola freshman to score 20 or more points multiple times in a season since both J.R. Blount and Leon Young in 2005-06.
After tying as the sixth-youngest team in NCAA Division I play in 2012-13, Loyola is fielding another youthful roster in 2013-14. Moser's 16-player squad has combined for just 17 years of NCAA Division I experience and the Ramblers' roster features just three scholarship upperclassmen - graduate student Tony Nixon and juniors Joe Crisman and Christian Thomas.
A year ago, Loyola played in the USF Invitational hosted by South Florida and posted a 1-2 record in the exempt tournament thanks to loss to Western Michigan (81-71) and the host Bulls (68-50) and a victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore (62-46). Loyola is 4-2 in its last six games in exempt tournament play and won the Nick Kladis Classic in November 2010.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS
Portland State, which has been idle since a 79-43 victory over Pacific Lutheran on November 13, has split its first two contests of the 2013-14 campaign. Led by junior guard Tim Douglas (17.0 ppg), who paced the team in scoring in each game this season, the Vikings have three players averaging double-figure points in the early going. Junior backcourt mates DaShaun Wiggins and Andrew Winston are also pitching in 11.0 ppg through two contests. In its last outing, against Pacific Lutheran, Portland State limited the Lutes to 24 percent (14-for-58) shooting for the game and broke the contest open in the second half by making 15 straight field goals to open the period.
The is the first-ever meeting between the Ramblers and Vikings and marks the first time since January 5, 1995 that Loyola is facing off against a current member of the Big Sky Conference. That day, the Ramblers dropped a 68-56 decision to Sacramento State. Loyola is 15-2 (.882) all-time versus current members of the Big Sky, with 12 of those wins coming against North Dakota (12-1).
In Tuesday's victory over Rockhurst, Loyola netted a season-high 83 points to mark just the second time in the last 65 outings that the Ramblers have topped the 80-point plateau. Since suffering a 97-87 loss to Milwaukee on January 10, 2004, Loyola has prevailed each of the last 30 times it has scored 80 or more points.
THE FRESH(MAN) PRINCE OF ROGERS PARK
University of Kansas transfer and red-shirt freshman Milton Doyle has made an immediate impact on the Loyola program in just four games. The 6-foot-4 guard burst onto the scene by scoring 18 points, the most by a Loyola freshman in a season opener since Majak Kou (18) at DePaul in 2003, in the Ramblers' 76-72 victory over Milwaukee on November 8. Through four games, Doyle has already topped the 20-point mark on a pair of occasions and he is the first Rambler freshman since both J.R. Blount and Leon Young in 2005-06 to score 20 or more points multiple times in a rookie campaign. Doyle tossed in a season-high 24 points against Rockhurst on Tuesday and that total is the best by a Loyola freshman since Blount hung 24 points on Bradley on November 30, 2005. Although it is still very early in the season, Doyle (18.5 ppg) is on pace to shatter Tony Parker's (1973-74) school record for scoring average by a freshman (17.1 ppg). He is also vying to become the first freshman to lead the team in scoring since Parker in 1973-74.
Part of having a young team is going through the growing pains of learning how to win games. In each of its two losses this season, Loyola has held a double-digit lead in the second half, only to see it evaporate. The Ramblers couldn't make a 51-39 lead hold up in a 74-69 loss at Tennessee Tech on November 12, then saw Tulane make a furious rally from a 19-point deficit with 17:25 left in the game to earn a 65-59 victory.
Dating back to last season, six of Loyola's last eight games have been decided by seven points or less and the Ramblers are only 1-5 in those half dozen contests.
THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS
One of the most improved players in the region a year ago, Christian Thomas has picked up where he left off last season. The 6-foot-5 junior forward has scored in double digits in each of the last 20 contests, the longest streak by a Rambler since Blake Schilb reeled off 21 consecutive double-digit-scoring efforts in 2005-06, and over his last 10 appearances is producing 17.8 ppg and 8.3 rpg, while shooting 55 percent (67-for-121). A starter in 35 consecutive contests, the St. Louis, Mo., native turned his 2012-13 season around with a 16-point, six-rebound performance in a victory over Mississippi State on December 15. Prior to that game, he had managed 4.6 ppg and 4.0 rpg through the first nine outings of the year, but from that point forward, accounted for 15.2 ppg and 7.5 rpg. He hiked his per-game averages from 5.0 ppg and 4.1 rpg as a rookie in 2011-12 to 12.1 ppg and 6.5 rpg a year ago. A 57 percent field goal shooter in his career, Thomas has scored in double figures in 10 straight road games and is putting up 15.2 ppg and 7.8 rpg during that stretch. In his last seven regular-season, non-conference appearances he has been nearly unstoppable, producing five double-doubles to go with 16.3 ppg and 9.6 rpg. Since knocking down 77 percent (47-for-61) of his free throw tries through the first 19 contests of 2012-13, Thomas has converted just 58 percent (64-for-110) of his tries from the foul line. He popped for 18 points and 10 boards against Rockhurst November 19.
One of three freshmen to start a game in 2012-13, Jeff White is showing no sign of the dreaded sophomore jinx through the first two weeks of the 2013-14 campaign. The 6-foot-1 point guard opened the year by scoring a team-high 23 points in the season opener versus Milwaukee on November 8. That output is the best by a Rambler in a season opener since J.R. Blount matched a Gentile Arena record by hanging 42 points on Rockhurst on November 14, 2008. The Peoria, Ill., native has scored in double figures in five of his last seven appearances and over that seven-game span is accounting for 12.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.4 apg and 1.7 spg, while burying 54 percent (30-for-56) of his field goal attempts and 46 percent (5-for-11) of his three-point tries. White has been a major factor in Loyola's recent success as he is pitching in 14.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.7 apg and 2.0 spg, while shooting 56 percent (14-for-25) from the field, 50 percent (2-for-4) from beyond the arc, and 100 percent (14-for-14) from the foul line in the last three wins. He has also converted 29 of his last 32 (.906) foul shots. Last season, White doled out 76 assists, the third-highest total ever by a Loyola freshman.
Chicago native and University of Kansas transfer Milton Doyle is Loyola's first player from the Chicago Public League since Cortney Horton in 2008. The 6-foot-4 guard provided plenty of reason for optimism about the next four years with his sparkling performance in last Friday's season opener versus Milwaukee when he poured in 18 points, all of which came in the second half, including six straight down the stretch as the Ramblers grabbed a nine-point lead. Doyle's 18 points were the most by a Rambler newcomer in his Loyola debut since Ross Forman hung 19 points on LeMoyne on November 10, 2007. If you dismiss the Tulane game, in which he scored just nine points and hit only 2 of 13 from the field, Doyle is accounting for 21.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.3 spg and shooting 54 percent (22-for-41) from the field and 50 percent (9-for-18) from long distance.
TRIPLE THREAT TURK
Sophomore Devon Turk burst onto the scene last season and made his mark as one of the top three-point shooters in Loyola annals. The first true freshman to connect for at least one three-pointer in each of his first 10 games as a Rambler, the 6-foot-4 guard has hit at least one trey in 33 of 35 career appearances including in each of the last 17 contests and all 16 of his games at Gentile Arena. Turk, who established a Loyola single-season record for triples by a freshman (65) in 2012-13, ranked second among Horizon League freshmen, behind only Cleveland State's Bryn Forbes (12.7 ppg), with 8.7 ppg. He led the Horizon League with a .433 (65-for-150) three-point field goal percentage last winter and posted the highest scoring average by a Loyola true freshman since Leon Young tallied 10.4 ppg in 2005-06. A starter in each of the final six contests last season, Turk needs only 16 more triples to move into a tie for 10th place with Marcus Thomas (88) on Loyola's career list. With an ability to score points in bunches, Turk totaled 21 points in only 24 minutes in a victory over Mississippi State and 19 points in 24 minutes in a win against Furman last December. He ripped down a career-best six rebounds at Tennessee Tech on November 12. Turk broke out of a scoring funk by registering a season-high 11 points, his most since February 26, 2013 at Detroit (12), against Rockhurst on November 19.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE
Junior Joe Crisman scored 10 points, his most since December 22, 2012, when he tallied 12 points at Saint Peter's. Loyola has prevailed in four of the last five games in which he has scored 10 or more points.
WIZARD OF OSBORNE
According to head coach Porter Moser, sophomore forward Nick Osborne is the most improved player on the Ramblers' roster. The 6-foot-8 forward started the final nine contests of the 2012-13 season and over that stretch contributed 4.8 ppg and 3.0 rpg. In the team's Maroon & Gold intrasquad scrimmage on October 22, Osborne exploded for 25 points, on 12-of-17 shooting from the field, and corralled six rebounds. The best performance of his freshman campaign came at Milwaukee when he totaled 11 points, four rebounds and three steals. He missed the first two games due to injury, but has pitched in 5.0 ppg and 3.5 rpg in each of the last two contests. Loyola is 3-0 in his career when Osborne snags six or more rebounds.
HALL OF AN HONOR
On November 24, the 1963 Loyola men's basketball team, which to this day remains the only squad from the state of Illinois to have won the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, will become the first-ever team inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City. That squad, which featured four African-American starters, played a huge role in the civil rights movement, most notably for its participation in the famous "Game of Change" versus an all-white Mississippi State team in an NCAA Regional game in East Lansing, Mich., on March 15, 1963.
SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED
Earlier this month, Loyola announced the signing of 6-foot-6 guard Donte Ingram (Danville, Ill./Simeon), the brother of former Rambler DaJuan Gouard (2001-05), and 6-foot-2 guard Ben Richardson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley Northwest) to National Letters of Intent to compete at Loyola beginning in 2014-15. Both players led their respective high school teams to state titles in 2012-13.
O'LEARY IGNITES RAMBLERS
Over the last two games, Matt O'Leary has put together some solid all-around numbers, averaging 8.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.0 apg and 1.5 spg. In last Saturday's loss at Tulane, the sophomore forward came off the bench to account for season highs of 12 points and six rebounds and over his last 13 games dating back to last year, O'Leary owns a 2.31 assist-to-turnover ratio (37-16). He leads the team with 3.8 apg through three games this season and his 12-point effort at Tulane was his best since a career-high, 14-point performance against Western Michigan one year to the day, on November 16, 2012.
THE VALLEY ROAD
The 2013-14 season marks Loyola's first as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference after 34 years in the Horizon League.