Saturday, March 8, 2008

Aloha from Albany: Loyola vs. Fairfield

O.K., so it's not Hawaii, but it is spring break and MAAC tournament basketball. Does it get any better?

As we speak, the TimesUnion Center here in Albany, N.Y. is being cleared out and prepared for the audience to re-enter. On the court, the Greyhounds and Stags are already warming up and stretching. As we all know, these two teams are no strangers: they met last season in Bridgeport in the MAAC tournament in a thriller won by Loyola.

Tonight, the teams will play the rubber match of a three-game set. Although this time, the stakes are even higher.

Tom will have your play-by-play game log. For now, here's some notes:

  • Fairfield is 0-3 all-time against Loyola in the MAAC tournament. Also, the Stags have only one win in the tournament since 2003 - an opening round win over Manhattan in 2005. A win today would go along way towards easing the pain of past failures, not to mention get the gorilla off of the new staff's back.
  • Just a reminder: Loyola defeated Fairfield in last season's MAAC quarterfinals, 76-72. The game was play at Harbor Yard. For argument's sake, the Women's Basketball team avenged a 2007 loss to Siena in the quarters by taking them down this year in the tournament.
  • Fairfield is 11-15 in the program's history in opening round games.
  • The winner of this game will play the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between Siena and Manhattan.
Keys to the game:
  • What will Brown do against you? - Loyola is at its best when its best player is at its best. Brown is an athletic, slasher type - perhaps a more polished version of freshman Warren Edney. Fairfield can go a long way towards assuring themselves of a Sunday game by shutting down the All-MAAC first team star.
  • Bench vs. Bench - Part of what makes the Greyhounds such a fantastic team is team depth. Loyola's deep pool of talent is exemplified by Marquis Sullivan, the MAAC's Sixth Man of the Year. Sullivan, in limited time, is pushing a 12ppg average. On any other team, Sullivan would be a starter and a person who take up well over half of the team's offense. In Patsos' offense, he is more than capable of filling a need off the bench and fitting a role.
  • Perimeter Problems - The Rider game meant one of two things: 1) the Stags lack a go-to shooter, or 2) the entire roster had a terrible afternoon. Even if the latter is true, Jon Han, Mike Evanovich, and Herbie Allen must develop continuity on offense early and often. The Stags must also guard the perimeter better.
Here's Tommy!

- K.C.

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