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Recon: Vs. Loyola Maryland, Saturday 7PM

LoyolaUnivMd_MonogramLogoThe Opponent: Loyola of Maryland comes to the Reilly Center for a Saturday evening tilt with the Bonnies. They play out of the Patriot League (new member) and are currently 2-1. They finished 11-19 last season and have really struggled to find their footing ever since loosing head coach Jimmy Patsos after the 2013 season. Head coach G.G. Smith has gone 11-19 in each of his first two seasons on the bench for the Greyhounds. 

Last Time:  The teams last met back in December of 2012, it was a great year for both programs as both made the NCAA Tournament. SBU prevailed with a 76-66 win. 

The Skinny on Loyola: Predicted to finish seventh in the Patriot League, Loyola is a team struggling to remake themselves since the successful Patsos left the campus. Per the PatriotLeague.com’s preview of the league:

“Loyola (11-19, 7-11 PL) looks to make a move up the standings in its third season in the Patriot League, and could have the pieces in place to do it with the top five scorers returning from last year. Seniors Eric Laster (10.9 ppg), Tyler Hubbard (10.8 ppg) and Franz Rassman (8.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg) provide veteran leadership while Andre Walker (10.2 ppg) and Cam Gregory (6.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg) both come off strong freshman campaigns. Jarred Jones also returns to the lineup as the junior played in only two games last season after finishing with 8.6 ppg and 4.5 rpg in 2013-14.”

So, at the very least it appears Loyola has some experience and seasoning. It’s tough to consider stats from their first three games because it is such a small sample size but thus far they’ve been about average to poor in both scoring and defending. Last year was a different story when Loyola ranked 333rd in offense, 342nd in effective FG% and 347th in scoring via 2PT shots. Essentially, they couldn’t shoot at all. So while it appears they’ve made some strides so far this season in shooting the rock they’ve also played three horrible teams in Tennessee State, LIU Brooklyn and UMBC so take the results with a grain of salt. 

The Roster and the Stats:

The Path to Victory: Against lesser foes, and Loyola is a lesser foe, it’s really important for the favorite focus on the fundamentals. In this case I would include playing with high energy from the tip coming off the game at Syracuse game. The staff will press into the players’ minds that Loyola is a solid team to be taken seriously but it’s up to the players to hear the message and come out playing with fire.

Once we tip I think SBU needs to improve those areas where they fell short last time out at the Carrier Dome. For starters, they need to turn it over far less (17 times) and find ways to get the rock into the paint a bit more (took 32 three pointers vs. SU) and get to the line more (9 times). In short- be more aggressive and attack the rim. Jay Adams, Marcus Posley and Nelson Kaputo need to take the ball to the basket and move the defense to create loooks. If Loyola plays a zone, they need to attack it. Moving the ball outside the arc did not work well vs. SU, so learning from that film will be important. I’ll also look for Posley to get on track and for Denzel Gregg to continue his hot start off the bench. If SBU takes care of the ball, rebounds like they generally do and defend like they’re capable of, they’ll be just fine in this contest. 

The Known (their best player): Tyler Hubbard may not be their best player but the guard is 8-12 from three this season so he posses a real threat to SBU.  His 128 offensive rating on KenPom is head and shoulders above everyone else on the roster. It should be noted he did not play vs. UMBC though (unsure of reason at this point). Shooters like Hubbard are usually the biggest reason for a road upset in the RC so he could be a key factor.

The Gut Feeling: Posley comes out swinging and the Bonnies play terrific defense and improve in taking care of the ball. They win this one going away 74-62. Book Posley for 17+ points and at least four three pointers.

The Prediction: Bonnies 74 Loyola 62

The Poll:

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A member of the class of 2008, Nolan spent four years as a student assistant with the program. He has written professionally for such outlets as espn.com/insider, Athlon Sports Magazines, Cox Sports Online and Blue Ribbon Previews. Ian was named one of the “140 Personalities to Follow in College Basketball” on twitter by The Sporting News.