Aug. 9, 2013
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - After two consecutive seasons of postseason play, Loyola University Maryland enters the Patriot League hoping to make an impact on the men's basketball race in 2014 and beyond.
The Greyhounds will do so with a new head coach as G.G. Smith comes up from his assistant role, and will rely on a roster led by Dylon Cormier along with nine freshmen or sophomores.
Below, take a look at quick facts for Loyola Maryland men's basketball and five questions with Head Coach G.G. Smith. For the Loyola men's basketball home page go here
Loyola University Maryland Men's Basketball Quick Facts
*Overall record: 1202-1217
*First season: 1908-09
*All-time record vs. Patriot League opponents: 58-76 (7-11 vs. schools playing as Patriot League members)
*MAAC Championships: 2 ('94, '12)
*NCAA Tournament appearances: 2 ('94, '12)
*Head Coach: G.G. Smith (1st season)
*Home court: Reitz Arena (2,100)
Five Questions with G.G. Smith
Q: You are working as the head coach for the first time and also transitioning into a new conference. Talk about the challenges presented by those dual factors?
A: I would be lying if I said that the last several months have not been hectic, but for the most part, I feel like our transition has gone relatively smoothly. I was fortunate to hire what I think is a great staff. We brought on Keith Booth, someone who has knowledge of Loyola having been a women's assistant here, and he played at a very high level at the University of Maryland and with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. We also have Josh Loeffler, someone with tremendous Patriot League knowledge after spending several years at Lafayette, and Dan Ficke, a Loyola alum who has worked at Wake Forest and brings a great passion for what it takes to continue a winning program here. Also, Kevin Farrell, our director of ops, is back for his second year, and his knowledge and experience has been outstanding. Those guys have been great because I have been able to delegate responsibilities to them, and they go and run with them. Transitioning to a new conference has been interesting. We are going to be traveling to new places and working with new opponents --this is an area where Kevin Farrell has been a tremendous help in coordinating things -- but at the same time, we are working with a veteran group of returning players, so on the court, many of the things are going to be the same.
Q: You lost a handful of key pieces, but Dylon Cormier returns as one of the top players in the Patriot League. Talk about his role on the team particularly as others adjust to new roles?
A: This is Dylon's team, and it really has been for about two years now. He is a great leader for us on the court, and he has become what we believe is one of the best mid-major guards in basketball. Last year, Dylon did just about everything for us. He averaged almost 16.5 points per game and over four-and-a-half rebounds per game. He also played some point guard, had a good assist-turnover ratio, and his defense was solid; I think he finished second in the MAAC in steals. Dylon is our leader, and he has been that this spring and summer, too. He knows that there are pieces of his game that he needs to improve on, and he has done that. By showing a great deal of dedication in the weight room and on the court, he leads by example, as well as vocally.
Q: You have nine players in their freshman or sophomore seasons. Who do you look to make a step forward and contribute this year?
A: We have a lot of guys that got some good minutes in games last year, particularly our rising sophomore class of Jarred Jones, Tyler Hubbard, Eric Laster and Franz Rassman. Each of them contributed to win games for us, and they have shown in workouts that they are ready to make the next step of being bigger impact players for us in the Patriot League. We also have some redshirt freshmen who are going to see a lot of time for us in Josh Forney and Damion Rashford, as well as S.J. Tuohy. Another player that we are excited to have in the rotation is Denzel Brito. He transferred to us from Loyola Chicago and sat out last year, but he was a great addition in practice situations, so we see him as stepping up to fill a role in our guard rotation.
Q: Talk about what you expect from the Patriot League race and the competition in the League?
A: We know that the Patriot League is going to be a really good league this year, and we feel like we are going to be very competitive in the race for the title. We played Boston University, our fellow Patriot League newcomer, in the CIT First Round last year, and they return all of their contributors from a team that was really good and we barely got by. They have tremendous guard play, and an experienced and talented group of post players, so we know they are going to be really good coming in. We have also played Bucknell in a home-and-home series the last four years, so we know a lot about them and think we have started a bit of a rivalry with them. There are so many good players in this league, we are just looking forward to starting the season.
Q: What are your goals for the first season in the Patriot League?
A: Obviously, we want compete for a title, but we want to do that by demonstrating what Loyola basketball is: passionate, exciting, hard-working and professional. I have been blessed with the opportunity to lead this program, and our guys realize they are fortunate to be playing basketball at a great school in an outstanding conference where they are receiving a top-level education. We are excited for League play to start, and we're looking forward to developing new rivalries with our new conference opponents.