The Maroon

Wolf Pack basketball starts out strong, looks to improve at mid-season

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Wolf Pack basketball starts out strong, looks to improve at mid-season

Wolf Pack Men's Basketball Team and coaches Stacy Hallowel and Ryan Brock hold practice at the First NBC Court on Loyola University New Orleans, Louisiana, Jan. 24, 2017. Stacy Hollowel, head coach, said team members have been exerting extraordinary effort during practice. Photo credit: Osama Ayyad

Wolf Pack Men's Basketball Team and coaches Stacy Hallowel and Ryan Brock hold practice at the First NBC Court on Loyola University New Orleans, Louisiana, Jan. 24, 2017. Stacy Hollowel, head coach, said team members have been exerting extraordinary effort during practice. Photo credit: Osama Ayyad

Wolf Pack Men's Basketball Team and coaches Stacy Hallowel and Ryan Brock hold practice at the First NBC Court on Loyola University New Orleans, Louisiana, Jan. 24, 2017. Stacy Hollowel, head coach, said team members have been exerting extraordinary effort during practice. Photo credit: Osama Ayyad

Wolf Pack Men's Basketball Team and coaches Stacy Hallowel and Ryan Brock hold practice at the First NBC Court on Loyola University New Orleans, Louisiana, Jan. 24, 2017. Stacy Hollowel, head coach, said team members have been exerting extraordinary effort during practice. Photo credit: Osama Ayyad

John Casey

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Roughly halfway through the season, the men’s basketball team is feeling confident with four wins up from this time last spring.

From Nov. 15 until Dec. 3, the team went undefeated, tallying six straight victories after starting off 2-2 this season. Since that point, the team has seen more wins than losses and intends to keep it that way.

The string of victories can largely be attributed to head coach Stacy Hollowell and combo guard and forward Johnny Griffin Jr., business management senior. This is Hollowell’s third season as the team’s head coach.

Hollowell pointed to a strong defensive performance through the first half of the season as one reason for his team’s early success. In addition to solid defense, Hollowell believes the team’s diverse offense has a lot to do with their success this season.

“We’re able to use some athleticism to get the ball close to the basket, and we have guys that can shoot it well from the perimeter, so we’re able to play inside and outside. I’d say the strength of the team at this point is to do both, to be able to have some versatility,” Hollowell said.

Hollowell pointed to two players that have set the momentum for the team this season: Griffin Jr. and center Nate Pierre, finanace senior. Pierre’s smart shot selection led to a stretch of shooting, roughly 75 percent over four games. Griffin’s athleticism and leadership have helped to guide the program’s upward trend since his arrival last season.

Griffin joined the Wolf Pack in 2015 after transferring from Chicago State University and has made a massive impact on the program. In his first season at Loyola, Griffin led the team in eight categories, including points per game, field goal percentage, minutes played and total rebounds per game.

Griffin Jr. has improved in his second season. His points and rebounds per game are up as well as his field goal percentage. Sitting at 15.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, he is a threat to opposing teams across the NAIA.

Both Hollowell and Griffin are confident in the team’s chemistry. The roster is comprised almost entirely of returning players who have had previous seasons to learn one another’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing the team to gel from the start of the season.

“Everybody knows their role and what they bring to the team. They know what they can do to benefit us more on both the offensive and defensive ends,” Griffin said.

The team has come out to a slower start than expected since returning from the holidays but looks to improve in their game versus Middle Georgia State on Feb. 4 in Macon, Georgia.

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Wolf Pack basketball starts out strong, looks to improve at mid-season