Nov. 30, 2012
LOYOLA (5-2) vs. FURMAN (2-4)
December 1, 2012 - 2 p.m. CST
Chicago, Ill. - Gentile Arena
Radio: www.loyolaramblers.com - John Fitzgerald (play-by-play), Stephond Robinson (analyst)
TV: Comcast SportsNet Chicago - Jordan Bernfield (play-by-play), Jeff Dickerson (analyst)
Live Video: www.horizonleague.com
Loyola looks to open up the month of December by claiming its fourth straight win, which would match the longest streak under second-year head coach Porter Moser.
This is only the third time (2006-07, 2010-11, 2012-13) in Loyola history that it has recorded five or more wins prior to December 1.
The Ramblers have gone just 6-10 (.375) in the last two Decembers after running up an impressive 12-2 (.857) ledger in the previous two Decembers.
Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Loyola has won six of seven games versus non-conference competition in the remodeled Gentile Arena. Overall, the Ramblers are 18-2 (.900) in their last 20 home games against non-league foes.
Loyola scored 81 points in an 81-78 victory over Tennessee Tech, its highest output since lighting up the scoreboard for 84 points in an 84-71 win versus Youngstown State on January 27, 2011.
Last season, the Ramblers didn't win their fifth game of the year until December 22. This year, they recorded their fifth win before the calendar flipped to the month of December.
The 78 points surrendered to Tennessee Tech is the most in a non-overtime game won by the Ramblers since a 99-86 victory over Evansville on November 21, 2005.
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.
Long-time team men's basketball chaplain Sr. Jean Dolores Schmidt will be recognized at Saturday's game in celebration of her 75th anniversary of joining the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
ABOUT THE PALADINS
Furman enters Saturday's game having dropped its last two contests - at Mercer (73-46) and to Western Carolina (79-65). Led by senior forward Colin Reddick, the Paladins have yet to play a game that was decided by fewer than 14 points. Turnovers have plagued a roster that features 13 underclassmen, as Furman is committing 17.2 miscues per game and has shot 29 percent (27 for 94) from three-point range and 65 percent (96 for 147) from the foul line. One year ago, Furman posted a 15-16 overall record and went 8-10 in Southern Conference play.
The Ramblers and Paladins are meeting for just the second time and Loyola is seeking its first win in the series after dropping last year's match-up, 63-51, in Greenville, S.C. Three Ramblers scored in double figures in that contest, led by Joe Crisman's 12 points, but the Paladins, who turned the ball over just four times in the game, converted 47 percent of their shots and got 14 points from Brandon Sebirumbi to gain the victory. Loyola is 2-4 all-time against current members of the Southern Conference.
WHY SO DEFENSIVE?
An old adage says that defense wins championships. If that proves true, the Ramblers should find themselves in the thick of things in the Horizon League race this winter. This year's team got off to one of the best defensive starts in recent Rambler history and its 332 points allowed through a half dozen games was the fewest since 1949-50 (309 points). In Wednesday's win, Tennessee Tech guard Jud Dillard entered the game averaging 23.2 ppg and shooting 58 percent (38 for 66) from the field. But, with Jordan Hicks or Joe Crisman guarding him, Dillard was bottled up, limited to just 14 points, nine below his season average, on 39 percent (5 for 13) shooting.
With a pair of free throws at the 19:18 mark of the second half the season opener against Toledo, senior forward Ben Averkamp became the 39th player in Loyola history to score 1,000 points. Now 29th on the school's career scoring chart with 1,111 points, the 6-foot-8 Preseason Second Team All-Horizon League pick needs 25 points to tie Bernard Jackson for 28th all-time with 1,136 points. In the Ramblers' victory versus Maryland-Eastern Shore, Averkamp collected his 500th career rebound making him just the 19th player in Loyola history, and the second in as many seasons, to top the 1,000-point and 500-rebound marks for his career. Last season, Walt Gibler 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 Furman game, he has recorded 1,111 points, 519 rebounds, 147 assists and 132 blocks. Two other Horizon League players are closing in on those figures - Valparaiso's Ryan Broekhoff and Green Bay's Alec Brown.
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 23-1 (.958) when leading at the half since the start of the 2010-11 season. Since the outset of the 2008-09 campaign, the Ramblers are 44-6 (.880) when leading at the break.
THE "D" IS THE KEY
One needs to look no further than the opponent's offensive figures to see how the Ramblers have fared this year. In its five victories, Loyola has permitted 52.2 ppg and held opponents to 37 percent (99 for 270) from the field and 29 percent (22 for 77) 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). Under Moser, Loyola has surrendered a meager 51.6 ppg in its 12 wins.
THREES FOR TURK
Regarded as one of the top shooters to come out of Houston, Texas last year, freshman Devon Turk has lived up to that billing in his young Loyola career. Along with Jordan Hicks, the 6-foot-4 guard is converting a team-high 44 percent (10 for 23) of his three-point field goal attempts this season and Turk is the first true freshman in Loyola history to sink at least one trey in each of his first seven games as a Rambler.
Sophomore Joe Crisman has taken a liking to playing at Gentile Arena in his brief Loyola career as the 6-foot-4 guard is averaging 9.4 ppg and shooting 48 percent (50 for 104) from the field and 46 percent (18 for 39) from three-point range in 14 games. Away from home, the Munster, Ind., native has put up 6.6 ppg, but drained only 30 percent (45 for 149) of his field goal attempts and 20 percent (13 for 66) from long distance. In five career appearances against non-conference opponents at Gentile Arena, Crisman is producing 10.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.8 spg, and is knocking down 50 percent (19 for 38) of his shots, including 53 percent (8 for 15) from beyond the arc. He is averaging 7.0 ppg and 7.5 rpg in Loyola's last two games and after not gathering a rebound in three straight games (Nov. 12-17), has pulled down 7.0 rpg in the last three contests.
Fifth-year senior Jordan Hicks broke out of a mini three-game offensive slump by tallying a season-high 15 points, his most since February 11, 2011, in Wednesday's victory over Tennessee Tech. Prior to that outburst, the 6-foot-6 native of Rochester, Minn., had put up only 11 points in the previous three games combined. Hicks, who opened the season healthy for just the second time in the last four years, is averaging 11.9 ppg and 5.0 rpg, while shooting 50 percent (35 for 70) from the field in his last seven home games dating back to last season.
Solid efforts in the second half have been a staple in Loyola's four wins this season. After putting up an average of only 26.2 points and connecting on 38 percent (47 for 124) of their field goal attempts in the first half, the Ramblers have rebounded to tally 38.2 points and shoot a sizzling 53 percent (63 for 120) from the field in the second period in their five victories. In Wednesday's win over Tennessee Tech, Loyola notched 43 second-half points and converted 50 percent (12 for 24) of its field goal tries.
SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS
Arguably the most improved player on the roster, sophomore Christian Thomas has been a key contributor this season, but especially during the Ramblers' current three-game win streak. Over the last three contests, the 6-foot-5 forward has pitched in 7.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.0 apg, and 1.3 spg, while shooting 56 percent (5 for 9) from the field to overcome a slow start in which he accounted for 2.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.0 apg, and 0.5 spg, and hit 44 percent (4 for 9) of his shots in the first four games of the 2012-13 campaign. Thomas had a string of 20 consecutive made free throws snapped Wednesday night, but he has drained 21 of his last 22 (.955) charity tosses. A workhorse on the boards, over half (17) of Thomas' 31 rebounds on the season have come on the offensive glass. At Furman last December, he registered 11 points, which equals a career-high, and four boards.
THE FORECAST CALLS FOR PAYNE
Junior point guard Cully Payne is settling in after becoming eligible this season following his transfer from the University of Iowa where he was a Freshman All-Big Ten Team performer in 2009-10 after averaging 8.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, and 3.8 apg. The 6-foot-1 Payne has knocked down 33 of his last 36 (.917) attempts from the charity stripe, and after accounting for 4.4 ppg and 4.0 apg, while shooting only 20 percent (5 for 25) from the field and 8 percent (1 for 12) from three-point range through the first five games, he has regained his offensive mojo and is putting up 14.0 ppg, and 3.5 apg, and connecting on 44 percent (8 for 18) of his field goal tries, including 46 percent (5 for 11) from long distance. Against Tennessee Tech Wednesday night, Payne totaled 18 points, his highest output since going for a career-best 25 points versus Michigan on March 11, 2010. In that win over Tennessee Tech on November 28, Payne hit 6 of 12 shots from the field despite entering that game having misfired on all 10 of his shots from the field at Gentile Arena this year. Loyola is 4-0 this season when Payne scores six or more points. Two weeks ago, he dished out a career-high nine assists versus Western Michigan.
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 was named to the USF Invitational All-Tournament Team last month after tallying 20.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, and 2.0 bpg in three games. The Germantown, Wis., native, who is one of only two players to rank among the top six in the Horizon League in both scoring (17.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg) this season, is going for 19.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, 2.0 bpg, and 1.7 spg, while shooting a scorching 59 percent (20 for 34) from the field, 44 percent (4 for 9) from long distance and 93 percent (14 for 15) from the foul line in the last three outings. An inside-outside threat, Averkamp has buried 5 of his last 10 shots (.500) from beyond the arc, and in his last 12 games versus non-Horizon League opponents, is notching 19.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.6 apg, and 1.4 bpg. He recorded his first double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) of the year, and seventh of his career, at Northern Illinois on November 24. Wednesday's win versus Tennessee Tech marked the first time since February 5 (13 games) that Averkamp didn't lead or share the team lead in scoring. Having just concluded the most productive November of his collegiate career, during which he averaged 17.4 ppg and 6.6 rpg, Averkamp looks to carry over his recent success in December. In his last six outings in December, he has put up 20.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, and 1.3 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.
ON THIS DATE IN RAMBLER HISTORY
Fifty years ago today, Loyola opened up the 1962-63 season, which culminated in the NCAA Championship, by posting a resounding 114-58 victory over Christian Brothers College thanks to 19 points from Jerry Harkness. That would be the first of 11 occasions the Ramblers topped the century mark in scoring that magical season.
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 season, 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
In November, 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 52-13 (.800) record when it holds its opponent to fewer than 60 points.
NOT WITHOUT A HITCH
Head athletic trainer Dr. Tom Hitcho has worked 1,024 consecutive Loyola men's basketball games heading into Saturday's contest versus Furman. Hired prior to the 1977-78 season, Hitch has not missed a Rambler game in 36 years, witnessing 473 victories.
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.