Dec. 4, 2009
Loyola (4-2, 0-1) at Milwaukee (6-2, 1-0)
December 5, 2009 - 7:00 p.m. CT
Milwaukee, Wis. - U.S. Cellular Arena
Radio WNTD (950 AM); WAUR (930 AM); WLUW (88.7 FM) John Fitzgerald (play-by-play)
TV Horizon League Network
Loyola looks to bounce back from a disappointing start to the Horizon League slate when it travels to Milwaukee Saturday night. The Ramblers, who dropped their League opener at Green Bay Thursday night, are seeking their first regular-season victory at U.S. Cellular Arena since the 2006-07 campaign. Currently in a stretch that will see it play four of five games away from home, Loyola is 1-2 on the road this season. Saturday's game is the Ramblers' final contest before final exams commence Monday.
Milwaukee holds a 24-18 lead in a series that dates back to 1924 and although the teams have split the last eight meetings, the Panthers have won three straight and 15 of the last 19. Last season, Loyola dropped both regular-season showdowns with Milwaukee and suffered a 77-68 loss to UWM in the opening round of the Horizon League Championship in Brew Town. The Ramblers have left U.S. Cellular Arena victorious in two of their last five visits there, with their last win coming in the first round of the 2008 Horizon League Championship (57-51). In last season's League Tournament game in Milwaukee, Jordan Hicks and J.R. Blount tallied 20 points apiece to pace Loyola while James Eayrs notched 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Milwaukee.
ON THIS DATE IN LOYOLA HISTORY
Thirty years ago today, the Ramblers earned an 83-80 victory over Bradley as LeRoy Stampley scored 26 points and Milwaukee native Kevin Sprewer snagged 16 rebounds to help Loyola improve to 2-0.
Since the start of the 2008-09 season, Loyola is 8-1, including a 2-0 mark this year, in games decided by five points or less.
BOOST FROM THE BENCH
In six games this season, Loyola's bench has outscored that of its opponents by a whopping 218-99 margin and over the last five outings, that total is slanted even more in the Ramblers' favor (191-69). At least one player has scored in double digits off the bench in each of Loyola's first six contests and the team's top two scorers, Walt Gibler (12.7 ppg) and Marcus Thomas (12.2 ppg), play in a reserve role.
GETTING IT DONE WITH "D"
Loyola has emerged victorious each of the last 11 times it has held an opponent to fewer than 60 points, with the last loss coming at the hands of Detroit (56-53), Feb. 16, 2008. In its last two wins, Loyola's defense has done the job, holding opponents to 50.0 ppg and 36 percent shooting (39-for-108) from the field.
THE NUMBERS DON'T LIE
The stats tell the entire story in Loyola's wins and losses this season. In losses to Kansas State and Green Bay, the Ramblers have scored 61.5 ppg and surrendered 91.0 ppg, while those foes have shot a combined 51 percent (62-for-124) from the field. On the other hand, Loyola has lit up the scoreboard for 76.5 ppg, while allowing only 60.5 ppg and 41 percent (89-for-219) accuracy from the field, in its four victories.
YOUTH GONE WILD
Of the 16 players on the Ramblers' 2009-10 roster 10 are underclassmen and another, junior guard Terrance Hill, is playing his first season of NCAA Division I basketball after transferring from Coffeyville Community College. In fact, Loyola ranks tied for 10th in the nation for having the most underclassmen on a 2009-10 roster. Harvard leads the country with 14 underclassmen on its 2009-10 squad and despite its youth, Loyola isn't the youngest team in the Horizon League as Valparaiso also features 10 freshmen or sophomores on its 2009-10 roster.
Loyola's roster has a Wisconsin flavor to it as four players - Ben Averkamp (Germantown), John Benkoske (Oshkosh), Tom Neary (Brookfield) and Andy Polka (Oshkosh) - hail from the Dairy State, as does assistant coach Lou Chapman (Milwaukee).
RAMBLERS TO TURN BACK CLOCK NEXT SATURDAY
At the Dec. 12 game versus San Francisco, Loyola will salute the accomplishments of the 1984-85 squad that advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen and finished the year with a 27-6 overall record. In addition, the program will also recognize the 12-player 1980s Loyola All-Decade Team, and the current edition of the Ramblers will wear 1985 replica jerseys. The 1984-85 squad was led by Third Team All-America selection Alfredrick Hughes, who averaged 26.3 ppg, Andre Battle (20.3 ppg), Carl Golston (14.8 ppg) and Andre Moore (11.0 ppg). Those four players still rank among the top 15 scorers in Loyola history.
With his second rebound of the game in the season opener at Kansas State Nov. 13, Andy Polka became the 28th player in Loyola history to grab 500 or more rebounds in his career. The senior forward finished the game with 12 rebounds, all in the first half, to tie a career high. The burly 6-foot-7 Polka was Loyola's leading rebounder as both a freshman and sophomore and despite appearing in only 11 contests due to injury a year ago, he also registered a team-high 5.5 rpg. He needs seven more rebounds to tie former teammate Leon Young for 24th on Loyola's career list with 562 caroms.
Sophomore Jordan Hicks developed into a bona fide scoring threat in the final month of the season in 2008-09 and he will be looked upon to shoulder some of the scoring responsibilities this year. The 6-foot-6 swingman closed out his rookie campaign by averaging 13.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.0 bpg and 1.4 spg, while shooting 54 percent (34-for-63) from the field, 55 percent (12-for-22) from three-point range, and 69 percent (11-for-16) from the foul line over the final seven games last season. Hicks' breakthrough performance came in Loyola's 71-67 victory at No. 15 Butler on Feb. 15, when he notched season highs of 23 points and eight rebounds to spearhead the upset. He either held or shared the team lead in scoring in three of the Ramblers' final six outings of the year and posted 20 points and seven rebounds at Milwaukee in the opening round of the Horizon League Championship last March. Hicks was sidelined this preseason and also has missed the first six games due to an Achilles injury.
Senior guard Aric Van Weelden capped an improbable Loyola comeback at Holy Cross by hitting a three-pointer from the left wing as the horn sounded to provide the winning margin in a 76-73 victory Nov. 20. The Munster, Ind., native's big shot capped a Rambler rally from a 73-65 deficit with 1:05 remaining in the contest. Van Weelden finished the game with a career-best 13 points and Loyola is now 2-0 in his career when he scores in double figures. He has committed only one turnover in his last three appearances, covering 83 minutes of court time. After kicking in 10.5 ppg in wins over Canisius and Holy Cross, Van Weelden is averaging only 2.5 ppg in his last two appearances. He sat out Thursday's game at Green Bay after suffering an injury while taking a charge against St. Ambrose Nov. 28.
MAYBE IT IS HOW YOU START
Since the outset of the 2005-06 season, Loyola has compiled a 61-11 (.847) record in games in which it has held the lead at halftime, including a 2-0 mark in 2009-10.
NOT WITHOUT A HITCH
Head athletic trainer Dr. Tom Hitcho has worked 932 consecutive Loyola men's basketball contests heading into Saturday's game at Milwaukee. Since joining the staff for the 1977-78 campaign, "Hitch," as he is affectionately known to those on campus, has not missed a single game and has witnessed 435 Rambler victories. In his 33rd year at Loyola, Hitcho was inducted into the Loyola Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.
MARCUS THE MICROWAVE
Marcus Thomas has provided instant offense off the bench for the Ramblers through the first few weeks of the season and he enters Saturday's game at Milwaukee as the team's second-leading scorer with 12.2 ppg. The Indianapolis native, who has scored in double figures in five of the first six games, is chipping in 12.0 ppg and 2.0 rpg in the last pair of outings. Thomas, who has connected on 56 of his last 137 (.409) triple tries over his last 29 appearances dating back to last season, has gotten off to a fast start this year, by burying 20 threes in the first six games. Last year, it took the senior guard until the 15th outing of the year (vs. Butler, Jan. 15) to connect on his 20th trifecta of the season. Loyola is 3-1 in his career when Thomas rings up four or more triples in a game. In three road games this year, the 6-foot-1 guard is contributing 14.0 ppg and 3.0 rpg, while hitting 50 percent (11-for-22) of his triple tries. Thomas has connected for two or more three-pointers in each of the team's first half-dozen contests of the year.
THAT 70s SHOW
Seventy points has been the benchmark for success when it comes to the Ramblers' offense the last few seasons. In 2007-08, Loyola went 7-0 when totaling at least 70 points. In fact, dating back to the 2006-07 season, Loyola has won 22 of its last 26 contests when it reaches the 70-point plateau, and is 3-0 when doing so in 2009-10.
LIVING IN THE 80s
Under Whitesell's watch, Loyola is a spotless 19-0 when scoring 80 or more points, including last Saturday's 81-42 victory over St. Ambrose.
After connecting on only 31 percent (158-for-506) of their triple attempts a year ago and 28 percent (142-for-511) in 2007-08, the Ramblers have shored up their long-range shooting and are draining 40 percent (52-for-131) of such tries through six games this season to rank second in the Horizon League, behind only Green Bay (.462), in that category. Through games of Dec. 3, Loyola was tied for the League lead with 8.7 three-pointers made per contest and in three of road outings this season, is shooting 39 percent (28-for-71) from long range. The Ramblers' 12 treys at Holy Cross Nov. 20 are the most since hitting 12 triples at William & Mary Feb. 23, 2008.
SWISH AND DISH
Courtney Stanley recorded his first career double-double by posting a career-best 10 points, while also handing out 11 assists in Loyola's 76-73 victory at Holy Cross Nov. 20. Stanley is the first Rambler since Blake Schilb on Feb. 11, 2007 to register 10 or more points, as well as 10 or more assists, in the same game.
RAMBLERS MAKE THE GRADE
Loyola is one of only 24 men's basketball programs to have received a NCAA Public Recognition Award in each of the past two years. The NCAA issues a Public Recognition Award to programs that have multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores in the top 10 percent of all men's basketball teams in the country. Also in this exclusive club over the last two seasons are tradition-rich schools such as Dayton, Duke, Holy Cross, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, Princeton and Villanova to name a few.
CAUSING A STER
Junior Ryan Sterling has come off the bench to produce 7.0 ppg, 2.0 and 1.5 apg, while shooting 50 percent (6-for-12) from the field in the last two contests. He notched career bests of eight points and three rebounds at Green Bay Thursday evening.
Junior Terrance Hill seems to be finding his stride as he is accounting for 13.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 1.7 apg in the Ramblers' last three outings after going for 6.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 2.5 apg in the previous two contests. Although he is shooting just 30 percent overall from the field, the Kansas City, Mo., native and transfer from Coffeyville Community College is knocking down 36 percent (8-for-22) of his attempts from long distance and is chipping in 10.3 ppg to go with 4.7 rpg and 1.7 apg. In a victory over Western Michigan Nov. 23, Hill notched a season-best 16 points and added five boards, two assists and a pair of steals. Hill, who is contributing 9.3 ppg and 5.3 rpg away from home this season, has connected on 14 straight tosses from the free throw line. He has hit at least one three-pointer in all six games this year and has scored in double digits in each of the team's last three contests.
THE GREAT WALT
Thanks to his aggressive play, Walt Gibler has been a reliable and consistent weapon off the bench for Loyola this season to the tune of a team-best 12.7 ppg. The Cincinnati, Ohio native is tallying 13.8 ppg and 6.3 rpg as a reserve in the last four contests and in the last two road games, is going for 13.5 ppg and 4.5 rpg, while shooting 48 percent (11-for-23) from the field. When the 6-foot-7 sophomore forward scores in double figures, Loyola is 6-2 in his career. Gibler has scored in double figures in five straight games and six of the last seven, and has been a key to Loyola's success by posting 15.5 ppg and 6.8 rpg in team's wins, compared to 7.0 ppg and 1.5 rpg in its two losses. In his last appearance at U.S. Cellular Arena, Gibler tallied 14 points and seven rebounds in the opening round of the 2008 Horizon League Championship.
No one has enjoyed the comforts of the Gentile Center more than Geoff McCammon. In three home games this season, the junior guard is tallying 11.7 ppg and 2.0 rpg, while shooting 56 percent (14-for-26) from the field. In fact, the Roselle, Ill., native has scored 66 of his last 84 points at home. However, Thursday night he finally broke free of his road slump by posting 11 points and a career-best five rebounds at Green Bay. Prior to the Green Bay game, McCammon had struggled to get his offensive game going as he put up just 0.5 ppg, on 0-for-6 shooting from the field, in the first two road outings of the year. In fact, McCammon entered the Green Bay game with only 12 points scored on the road in his career before he nearly matched that total Thursday night. Loyola is 6-3 all-time when McCammon, who is posting 10.5 ppg and shooting 54 percent (7-for-13) from the field in his last two games played in the month of December, is part of the starting lineup. He made his first career start against Milwaukee at the Gentile Center as a freshman in 2007 and in his last two games is going for 11.0 ppg and 3.5 rpg after totaling 1.0 ppg and 2.0 in the previous pair of outings.
Philadelphia native Courtney Stanley leads the Horizon League with 5.5 apg through the first six games and twice this season has doled out 10 or more helpers in a game. Stanley is tallying 6.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg ad 7.5 apg in Loyola's last two games away from home.
LISTEN UP ALL YOU POLKAMANIACS
Andy Polka is showing no ill effects from the season-ending ankle injury he suffered last year. The forward has ripped down a team-best 9.5 rpg, which ranks second in the Horizon League, through six outings, and in a Nov. 23 win over Western Michigan recorded the sixth double-double of his career and second this season by scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 boards. Despite his size, Polka is an adept three-point shooter and has connected on five of his last 11 tries (.455) from triple territory. The senior, who received an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA due to medical hardship, is averaging 9.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg and is shooting 50 percent (12-for-24) from the field in three career appearances against Milwaukee at U.S. Cellular Arena. So far this season, Polka has contributed 9.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg and 3.3 apg at home, but only 4.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg and 1.7 apg on the road.
SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED
In November, Flavien Davis signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Loyola next fall. An athletic, 6-foot-5 wing player from Wisconsin Lutheran High School in Milwaukee, Wis., Davis has had a decorated prep career and last season led his squad to the Wisconsin Division 2 state championship by averaging 16.9 ppg and 8.4 rpg for a team that finished with a 24-2 overall record. Davis is a three-time First Team All-Wisconsin Little Ten Conference honoree and last season was tabbed second team all-state by both the Associated Press and Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association.