Name: Loyola University Maryland
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Hey, wait a minute: Yep, that’s two straight years with a Marquette season opener against a school from head coach Steve Wojciechowski’s old stomping grounds. Mount St. Mary’s, the opener the year before that, is only an hour, maybe 75 minutes away.
So that means: That the Jesuits founded Loyola Maryland before Marquette, yes. They founded eight schools before Loyola, so it’s not like they were that fancy. However, Loyola is the first college in the US to be named after St. Ignatius. Very fancy, and take that Loyola Chicago.
College Designation: Loyola has only been a university since 2009. Up until that point, they were merely Loyola College. The move had to be approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, but they apparently met all the criteria in order to be called a university in the state.
Loyola College Still Exists, Kind Of: That’s now the name for their College of Arts and Sciences.
Enrollment: 5,473, with 3,925 undergraduate students
Why “Greyhounds?” Well, let’s take it right from the Loyola website:
Students wanted a distinctive mascot for their sports teams in addition to a name for the school newspaper. Loyola’s mascot had to embody the school colors, green and grey. Proposals for a mascot included the parrot or parakeet (symbolizing green) and the grey squirrel (leaning more toward grey). Known for its graceful agility and speed, loyalty, and intelligence, someone suggested a Greyhound. The fact that the breed was known to have been bred by the Irish and imported as racing dogs by the ancient Romans meant that the mascot would have a tie to Loyola’s Catholic identity as well as to its early founders and leaders, many of whom were of Irish heritage. In a vote among the student body, the Greyhound narrowly defeated the grey squirrel to become Loyola’s official mascot.
I’d be 100% more interested in Loyola Maryland if they were the Squirrels.
Loyola Sports History: I know two things about Loyola’s sports program. #1 — Jimmy Patsos was the basketball coach between 2004 and 2013, and as I recall correctly, his departure had more to do with his lack of interest in moving with the Greyhounds from the MAAC to the Patriot League. I presume that Patsos was merely lightyears ahead of Fat Tony.
The other thing I know is that lacrosse coach Charlie Toomey cost his team an NCAA tournament game by calling a timeout fractions of a second before Blake Burkhardt broke a tie game with less than a minute to play and just seconds after a faceoff following a goal by Duke’s Case Matheis. I was watching this game live and it was an absolutely absurd scene. By the way: Defending national champion Loyola did not score following the timeout, and then lost in double overtime.
A Bunch Of Superstitious Weirdos: Apparently, rubbing the foot of a statue of St. Ignatius on campus brings you luck. This brand of nuttiness is proffered by the official university website as a thing, claiming that luck is provided when you make contact “before midterm and final exams, before big presentations and interviews, even before exchanging marriage vows in Alumni Memorial Chapel.”
Let me go on the record here and say this: As someone who got married at the courthouse in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, I can not possibly think of anything less romantic than getting hitched in something called “Alumni Memorial Chapel.”
Notable Alumni: Author Mark Bowden, perhaps best known for Black Hawk Down; Jerry Parr, former head of the United States Secret Service; author Tom Clancy; sports television star Jim McKay; Michael D. Griffin, former head of NASA; Bernie Madoff whistleblower Harry Markopolos; Ed Burns, novelist and co-creator of The Wire; and finally, Juul CFO Timothy Danaher.
Last Season: 11-21, with a 7-11 record in Patriot League play. They finished eighth in the league, and then lost their first PL tournament game to Boston University.
Final 2018-19 KenPom Ranking: #270
2019-20 Preseason KenPom Ranking: #186
2019-20 Preseason KenPom Projection: 17-13 overall, 10-8 in the Patriot League, which would be a three-way tie for third.
2019-20 Patriot League Preseason Poll Results: The Greyhounds were picked to finish fourth in the league this season by a poll of the league’s coaches and sports information directors. Senior guard Andrew Kostecka was named to the preseason all-league team.
Returning Stats Leaders
Points: Andrew Kostecka, 21.3 ppg
Rebounds: Brent Holcombe, 6.0 rpg
Assists: Isaiah Hart, 3.0 apg
Note #1: Holcombe only played 12 games last year before missing the remainder of the year due to injury. After him, Kostecka was the next best rebounder at 4.8 per game.
Note #2: All three of those gentlemen led Loyola in those categories last year. In fact, the Greyhounds return all but two members of last year’s squad. That’s probably the biggest explanation for the nearly 100 spot jump in their KenPom ranking from the end of last year to the start of this year.
But it’s not the only explanation, is it? Well, no, probably not. Believe it or not, Loyola enrolled the #65 prospect in the Class of 2019, and as a result, actually has a higher ranked recruiting class (#61) than Marquette (#75) according to 247 Sports. Santi Aldama is a 6’11”, 215 pound freshman from Las Palmas De Gran Canaria in Spain. The Greyhounds have him listed as a forward, and 247 says he is the #12 power forward in the recruiting class.
The ranking might be a surprise, but Aldama has been heading to Loyola for a while now, having signed his national letter of intent during last year’s fall signing period. The attention for him blew up at this past summer’s FIBA U18 European Championship as he led Spain to the title. He scored 19 or more points in four straight elimination games to close out the tournament, including 23 in the title game, and ended up with MVP honors.
Go check out this Baltimore Sun feature on him for more, and here’s a FIBA highlight video of him from the U18 tourney. Five minutes long, go check it out. He’s #7 for Spain.
Shooters? Andrew Kostecka and Kenny Jones are the two notable names. Kostecka nailed 38% of his long range pops last year, and is a career 37% shooter from behind the arc. Jones hit 40% of his attempts last year as a freshman, so we’ll see if that sticks from year to year, but he did have over 100 attempts last season. You can see it in the video that Aldama can knock it down, too, so the Golden Eagles will have to stay on top of him as well.
Bigs? Well, the list starts with the 6’11” Aldama, I suppose. He’s still a bit of a mystery in terms of what happens to him at the Division 1 level, but being that good at the U18 Euro championships is a pretty solid indication. The 6’8” Holcombe put up double digit rebounding rates at both ends of the court while ultimately only playing 20% of the Greyhounds’ minutes due to injury. If he had enough minutes to qualify, he would have been top 150 in the country on the offensive glass and top 90 on the defensive end. That’s really good, and it’s going to be something that Marquette, a decent rebounding team a year ago, is going to have to keep track of carefully.
The Greyhounds weren’t against using Holcombe and 6’8” KaVaughn Scott together last season, as Scott was a starter almost the entire season while Holcombe only earned six starts before his injury. Scott isn’t quite the rebounder that Holcombe is, but then again Scott had to play without Holcombe around for a long stretch. The two of them together could form an impressive pairing on the glass, and potentially give Marquette a chance to test out their own two-bigs lineup for a while.
Head Coach: Tavares Hardy, starting his second season at the helm and second season overall as a head coach. He spent time as an assistant at Northwestern under both Bill Carmody and Chris Collins, Georgetown under John Thompson III, and Georgia Tech under Josh Pastner.
All Time Series: This is the first ever meeting between the two teams.