Intro/History Between Teams:
Loyola and University of Albany have played each other once before. They met each other just about 13 years ago at Gentile. Loyola beat Albany 68-56 on Dec 22, 2009. In that game Loyola great Ben Averkamp finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds – one of his first stat-stuffing games of many in his Loyola career. Albany is coming off a year where they finished fifth in the America East last season. They were extremely impressive defensively, but struggled to find an offensive identity. Albany lost their top four scorers from last season, and the reigning defensive player of the year in the America East, Jamel Horton. Horton transferred to Mississippi State.
Main Storyline For This Game:
Both coaches, Drew Valentine and Dwayne Killings, are entering their second season as the head coach at their respective institutions. Killings is only coaching in his 8th game although this will be Albany’s 13th game of the year. Why? Killings was suspended 5 games to start the season for “an incident with a player”. Even though the America East is closer to that low major threshold, they have two legitimately good teams this year. Bryant and UMass Lowell have both gotten out to great starts. Albany will have multiple shots to get some quality wins in conference play. Albany is coming off a win against Long Island University in which they had one of their best offensive outputs of the year. They made it to the line an impressive 25 times, and they won the rebounding battle 43-33.
Our Ramblers are coming off their most impressive game of the year. They traveled to Atlanta and picked up a key neutral site victory over an ACC team who had been hovering around a top 50 KenPom ranking. They did so with an efficient shooting performance and impressive defensive intensity. Loyola can still improve. They turned the ball over 18 times. They might have a bit more wiggle room against a low major opponent like Albany, but Loyola cannot continue to turn the ball over nearly 18 times a game, and be a serious contender in the A10. I’m looking for Loyola to really focus on reducing turnovers. They’ve shown they will shoot at a high percentage. If we can average 8-10 more shots per game, that should increase our scoring output by at least 8 points per game as well. If we can limit our turnovers to 12 on Sunday and shoot the ball well or continue with the defensive intensity, I’ll feel good about a comfortable win at Gentile.
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch:
HOT: Marquise Kennedy has been incredibly efficient since the Texas A&M game. He has shot 20-32 (62.5%) from the field and 9-15 (60%) from three point range. In his last four games, his assist to turnover ratio is 11 to 6. Anything near 2 assists to each turnover is a good number for a player like Kennedy who is not a pass-first guard. I’ve really been enjoying Kennedy’s all around game recently in addition to his scoring outburst against DePaul. Kennedy’s great play can take a lot of pressure off his teammate, Braden Norris. We love to see his passion and fire too.
NOT: This is a bit of a tough topic for me, but Sheldon Edwards has fallen out of the rotation for the time being. Sheldon was my favorite offseason addition. He provides scoring, athleticism, and an x factor to this team that I thought we needed. After his heroics in game 1, Edwards has scored 19 points in 9 games. We’ve seen some progress in other aspects of his game like defense and rebounding, but it hasn’t been enough to keep him on the floor. Although he hasn’t shown it since game 1, I think this might be a get-right game for Sheldon if we get out to a 10+ point lead early. Let him get on the court for a 5 minute stretch and work through some of his early season difficulties.
Game Time, Broadcast Info, Ticket Availability
Probable Starting Lineups:
G: Braden Norris
G: Marquise Kennedy
F: Ben Schwieger
F: Phil Alston
C: Tom Welch
F: Drumgoole Jr.
Recently injured/unavailable: None, that I know
By The Numbers:
- Points Per Game
- Loyola: 68.1 points/game
- Albany: 67.8 points/game
- Points Allowed Per Game
- Loyola: 68 points/game
- Albany: 75.2 points/game
- Box Out!!
- Loyola: only 21.4 Defensive Rebounds Allowed/game (26th in the country)
- Albany: grabbing only 22.9 Defensive Rebounds/game (320th of 363 in the country)