Basketball Scouting Report: Loyola (Maryland)
There's never a good time to lose a leading scorer and an above-average distributor, but the Navy Midshipmen enter their Patriot League opener with only three players that average more than 6.5 points per game. This is due to the loss of Tilman Dunbar, who has been suspended and has not been given any timetable for a return to the lineup. Head coach Ed DeChellis, who is used to employing a defense-first style of basketball dating back to his days at Penn State in the Big Ten (when his teams typically didn't have more firepower than their opponents), will have to emphasize defense, rebounding, and turnover differential against Loyola. Navy has to make this game ugly if it wants to produce a beautiful result, one it can tuck into the win column.
LOYOLA (MARYLAND) AT-A-GLANCE
There are two things you need to know about the Greyhounds before looking at their starting lineup. First, they have a new head coach. Jimmy Patsos led the program to the NCAA tournament in 2012 but then took the job at Siena after the end of last season. He has been replaced by G.G. Smith, who is trying to sustain what Patsos developed.
The second detail to mention about Loyola is that it is playing its first season in the Patriot League after spending the previous 24 seasons in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). This is not a typical conference game – there is and will be a fresh feel to the matchup.
Forward – Jordan Latham – Senior, 6-9, 243; 2013-14: 5 points per game, 3.4 rebounds per game
Latham started in Loyola's most recent game on Dec. 30 against Miami (Fla.), but he is essentially one of eight players in the Greyhounds' rotation under Smith. Loyola doesn't have a player taller than 6-9, so Latham is asked to be this team's most powerful and physical interior defender. He is needed for his defense, not his offense. The better he is on defense, the more minutes he'll accumulate on the court.
Guard – Dylon Cormier – Senior, 6-3, 184; 2013-14: 22.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.8 steals per game
Here's Loyola's best and most imposing player. Cormier is the player every Loyola opponent game plans against… and yet he still gets his buckets. What's particularly impressive about Cormier is that even though he scores a ton of points and carries this team on his back – no other player on the roster averages as many as 10 points per game – he also hits the glass and puts in a lot of work there.
Guard – Jarred Jones – Sophomore, 6-7, 192; 2013-14: 9.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg
Jones needs to become a better and more productive second scoring option over the course of the season, so that Cormier can find at least some relief from pressure and double-teams.
Guard – Eric Laster – Sophomore, 6-6, 195; 2013-14: 9.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.5 assists per game
Laster, alongside Cormier and fellow teammate R.J. Williams (who will be mentioned shortly), is one of three Greyhounds that averages at least 27 minutes of playing time per game. These are the three core starters on the roster, with the other two starters (Jones and Latham) blending into the eight-man rotation. It's striking how similar Laster and Jones are as big tweener guards who average roughly nine points and four rebounds per game. Getting more offense from either Laster or Jones will help Loyola a great deal in the long run.
Guard – R.J. Williams – Junior, 5-9, 155; 2013-14: 7.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.8 apg, 2.2 steals per game
Williams is small and thin. He's not going to win any contest of strength. How can a player of his physical stature survive on the floor? By being quicker than his opponents and having very good hands. Williams uses his quickness to find gaps in an opposing defense and set up his teammates for good shots. On defense, he swipes the ball and can create fast-break opportunities for the Greyhounds.
Rounding out the eight-man rotation for the Greyhounds are forward Franz Rassman and guards Tyler Hubbard and Denzel Brito. All three players average at least 15 minutes per game. Rassman averages roughly four rebounds per game, Brito two assists per contest. No one in this trio of players averages anything more than 5.7 points per game (Hubbard).
Keys to the Game
1) Corral Cormier. It's obvious, of course – Navy can't let Loyola's best player run wild, period.
2) Pound the defensive glass. Navy has to make Loyola a "one-and-done" team when the Greyhounds have the ball. Second chances will rob the Midshipmen of any leverage they might still have. Playing without Dunbar, they cannot give away any extra possessions.
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