Jesuit Jam Preview: Loyola vs Drake — 2/22/17

Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
Gentile Arena, Chicago, Ill.

If you made a movie about Drake’s 2016-17 season, no one would believe it could really happen. The Bulldogs have been through an odd coaching change and have been the streakiest, most unpredictable Jekyll and Hyde team in the MVC this year– perhaps in all of college basketball. Drake began the season 1-10, their head coach resigned after the first seven games, they lost to non-D1 Alaska Anchorage, and their only win came against non-D1 Simpson College. Then they won two D1 games in a row, scoring over 100 in each, while kicking off a 6-4 stretch which saw them rise to third place in the MVC. They’ve followed that stretch with their current seven game losing streak.

Loyola began the conference season with a totally uncharacteristic, mystifying, insane 102-98 loss against Drake in Des Moines, in which the 2-10 Bulldogs beat the 10-3 Ramblers, who had up until then allowed the opposition an average of just 63.5 points per game. Loyola should be favored to win in the rematch, as a little frustration/revenge for the early season loss might be evident. The Bulldogs are also a terrible road team. Drake is 1-10 on the road this season, with their only win a 72-71 squeaker at Missouri State, and their average road margin of loss at 12 points per game. The Ramblers should have a large and energized crowd for the final home game of the year, and have much more to play for than Drake, who is all but already locked into a Thursday game.

Wednesday night’s game is the annual Jesuit Jam, a Loyola tradition dating back to the mid 1990s, in which students and fans can interact with and cheer/talk hoops with Loyola’s Jesuit community. The event begins at 6:50 pm at Gentile Arena. Students who arrive early receive a free Jesuit Jam Shirt (first 100) or bring $10 (cash) to purchase a Jesuit Jam Shirt and support their charity effort. There will be another legendary Jesuit Jam After-Party Celebration at the Damen Den, in the Damen Student Center for free pizza and prizes.

The Jesuits will also help honor senior Milton Doyle, who will be playing his final home game as a Rambler, and enters the game with 1572 points (10th in Loyola history), 473 rebounds, 443 assists (6th all time), 135 made three pointers (8th all time), 141 steals (8th all time), and 75 blocks (8th all time). Cheer loud for a Rambler who helped introduce Loyola into the MVC with class and excellence, and has helped to re-establish Loyola as top option for local hoops talent.

So there you have it—a big game for the Ramblers, one that they should be favored to win handily, the Jesuit Jam, Senior Night honoring one of the best players in Loyola history, a 4th, 5th, or 6th place conference finish on the line, and temperatures expected to be around 60 degrees in February. It would be nice to get a good, energized crowd given those circumstances.

LINKS
  • Loyola game notes: Pending
  • Drake game notes: Pending
  • TV/Streaming video: CSN Chicago Plus/ESPN3 (Link Pending)
  • Vegas odds: Pending

Illinois State Preview — 2/19/17

Sunday, February 19, 2017 3:00 p.m.
Redbird Arena, Normal, Ill.

Loyola travels to Illinois State on Sunday, likely just in time for the return to the starting lineup of MiKyle MacIntosh. The Redbirds were 4-1 without him in the lineup, suffering their only conference loss (an 86-45 humiliation at Wichita State, broadcast nationally on ESPN2). In the span without McIntosh there were also a few close calls, like a six-point home win over Northern Iowa, and ISU’s last outing where McIntosh had to return to the lineup from the bench to help ISU come from behind to win 67-66 at Missouri State.

On New Year’s Day, Illinois State embarrassed Loyola with an 81-59 shellacking at Gentile Arena, in which at least half of the 1678 to show up were Redbird fans. The tandem of Deonte Hawkins and MiKyle McIntosh caused huge problems for the Ramblers, combining to score 30 points on 10-for-18 shooting, and 5-for-9 from three-point territory. The two mobile forwards, standing 6’7” and 6’8” cause matchup problems for Loyola, because they can hit shots from anywhere on the court and have the capability to drive to the basket. The Redbirds shot 57.1% as a team in that game, by far the most efficient performance against the Ramblers by any team this season.

Keeping ISU well under their season average of 44.3% and away from the foul line is going to be rule number one if Loyola wants to stay in game at Redbird Arena. The Ramblers will also need some offensive contributions from the bench; last time out Loyola got only three points from the bench players (excluding Aundre Jackson), and that slim total was equal to the two previous games combined. Loyola hasn’t won at ISU since 1991. ISU is 13-0 at home this year, with an average winning margin of 11.2 points.

LINKS

Indiana State Preview – 2/15/17

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 7:00 p.m.
Gentile Arena, Chicago, Ill.The Ramblers have a good chance to break their four-game losing streak and try to hold on to a top-half finish for the first time since joining the MVC. Loyola defeated Indiana State 81-66 on Jan. 28 in Terre Haute, but the game was not that close—Loyola led 73-44 with less than seven minutes remaining, before the Sycamores closed the gap during walk-on time. Since that game, the Sycamores have won three out of four, and the Ramblers have dropped a season-high four in a row.

Even with the recent turnaround, the Sycamores are still a rotten road team. They recently beat Bradley in Peoria, but it was a two-point nail-biter with both teams struggling to get to 50 points, Bradley shooting only 31% for the game, and Indiana State committing 22 turnovers. That gives the Sycamores three road wins on the season in 11 attempts thus far, the best of which came by one point at Utah State.

Loyola has had some problems of their own since the last meeting. During their current four game losing streak, lack of bench scoring has been a chronic problem. In the past four games, Loyola’s bench players Bruno Skokna, Cameron Satterwhite, Tyson Smith, and Vlatko Granic have combined for six points on 1-for-14 shooting from the field. Yes, Aundre Jackson comes of the bench, but that’s a technicality as he plays 2 ½ times as many minutes as starter Maurice Kirby (who has elevated his average scoring with 10 points in the past four games). Minutes have been adding up on the starters, and tired legs have led to missed shots at key points down the stretch.

Last time around against the Sycamores in Terre Haute, Milton Doyle led the Ramblers with 20 points, and Custer (15), Ingram (12), and Jackson (11) each had double figures. And significantly, the four from the bench combined for 11 points as well—the last win, and the last time the Ramblers has as many as three points in a game from the bench. But it’s easy to win when you out-rebound the opposition 30-22, hit 62.5% on threes, and your starters commit only 10 turnovers.

The Ramblers should win this game, but then again, they should have won at least two of the past four games. It would be nice if Loyola could get a lead to get their starters some rest, get their bench players some productive minutes, and get a game closer to evening up their conference record.

LINKS

  • Loyola game notes (PDF)
  • Indiana State game notes (PDF):
  • TV/Streaming video: ESPN3
  • Audio: WLUW 88.7 FM (Available on mobile app or at wluw.org)
  • Vegas Odds: Loyola by 7.5
  • Ramblermania game thread