The Maroon

Pack sets long-term goals

New players show winning potential

Marketing+freshman+Tyler+James+attempts+a+jump+shot+at+the+team%E2%80%99s+season+opener+against+Carver+Bible+College+on+Thursday%2C+Nov.+3+in+The+Den.+The+Wolfpack+defeated+Carver+85-78.
Marketing freshman Tyler James attempts a jump shot at the team’s season opener against Carver Bible College on Thursday, Nov. 3 in The Den. The Wolfpack defeated Carver 85-78.

Marketing freshman Tyler James attempts a jump shot at the team’s season opener against Carver Bible College on Thursday, Nov. 3 in The Den. The Wolfpack defeated Carver 85-78.

CHIKA JOHN/PHOTO EDITOR

CHIKA JOHN/PHOTO EDITOR

Marketing freshman Tyler James attempts a jump shot at the team’s season opener against Carver Bible College on Thursday, Nov. 3 in The Den. The Wolfpack defeated Carver 85-78.

By CRAIG MALVEAUX The Maroon

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Loyola’s men’s basketball team’s journey to the conference tournament semifinals last season lends itself to a handful of exaggerated adjectives— considering the Wolfpack had never advanced past the first round in the last decade.

 Yet Chris Joseph prefers none of them. His description draws on a 1950s animated Disney fairy tale.

“No one picked us to win at all. People kept telling us we weren’t good enough,” said Joseph, political science senior. “So, when we beat the number-one ranked team to get to the semis — the final four — it was surreal. It was like a Cinderella story.”

The hypotheticals no longer linger in the minds of the returners or the coaching staff coming into this season. Instead, Joseph said the success they achieved in the tournament is a testament to what they are capable of doing. It serves as a motivating factor to not only get back to the semifinals, but to advance further.

“That’s all we think about,” Joseph said. “We understand what we need to do to get there and how much work it takes.”

Overcoming Key Departures

Understanding is one thing. Accomplishing the feat is another, Joseph said. Michael Giorlando, head basketball coach, said the team has all the tools, with a number of last year’s players returning, but acknowledged the holes left by two dynamic players who graduated.

One of them is Ryan Brock, who led the Wolfpack in every major statistical category except blocks, and the other, Darrinton Moncrieffe, who anchored the defense averaging 2.79 blocks per game.

“Offensively, you just never knew how good it was going to be that night. He would have 20 points on a particular night and do it while being double-teamed,” Giorlando said. “Most guys would have been shut down. You don’t replace a guy like that. You have to form your team around your new personnel.”

Although the Wolfpack will miss their former leading scorer, Giorlando said Loyola isn’t in a rebuilding stage­­­­­­­—they’re re-loading. Loyola recruited McCall Tomeny, finance freshman, Stephen Davis, biology junior, Tyler James, marketing freshman, and Kyle Simmons, general studies freshman, who all represent the “wild cards.”

“I think they can be serious contributors, but you don’t really know yet until they get on the floor,” he said.

Balanced Act

The freshmen won’t be alone. Several returners like Joseph, Corey Gray, biology senior, and Robert Lovaglio, general studies sophomore, expect to shoulder most of the offensive production.

Grey, the Southern States Athletic Conference’s All-Division shooting guard, proved he’s capable of it, too, as the second leading scorer last season averaging 16.77 points per game. His 34-point career high performance against Faulkner University followed by 28-point game against Belhaven University earned him the recognition of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ player of the week.

Joseph said the options they now have makes them a much more dangerous team than last year.

“We are a lot more well rounded. We don’t have to put the weight on just one guy’s shoulder offensively or defensively,” he said. “We’re balanced. On any night, two or three guys can put up substantial numbers. That’s the biggest difference from last year.”

Definition of Success

The goals have not changed much throughout the years. Loyola strives for a 20-win season and a conference tournament championship, neither of which they have accomplished.

But success isn’t as black and white for Giorlando. Those represent goals they hope to reach, not a benchmark for success.

“We just want to be able to compete for the west,” he said. “And from there we’ll see what happens in the tournament.”

While Joseph agreed, he said winning a conference championship would be a true fairy-tale ending to his four-year career.

“It’s our time,” he said.

Craig Malveaux can be reached at [email protected]

Political science senior Chris Joseph attempts a layup against Carver Bible College. After the departure of Ryan Brock, A’11, Joseph and other veteran players will play a larger role for the team’s offense. (CHIKA JOHN/PHOTO EDITOR)

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