Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
5:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
Coaching Change: After last season's 9-20 record, and with the departure of three starters (all of which were double-digit scorers) not leaving room for much optimism, the Ramblers made a coaching change last spring. Six-year head man Larry Farmer was replaced by local favorite Jim Whitesell, who had spent the previous 12 seasons leading nearby D-II Lewis University. "Having been in the Chicago area for the past 17 years, I look forward to the challenge of restoring Loyola back to prominence," Whitesell said at his hiring press conference. Loyola-Chicago hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 1985.
So Close: The Ramblers' record of 2-5 doesn't tell the whole story, as four of those losses were tight games against quality opponents. They held a double-digit lead over a solid Bradley team, only to lose by two points. They held a nine-point halftime lead over Western Michigan, but lost by four points. A couple days later they lost another heartbreaker, again by four points, to Oral Roberts (a strong mid-major team this season). Lastly, they also lost by seven points to a Northern Iowa squad that has stunned Iowa State and nearly upset both Iowa and Cincinnati.
Starpower: DaJuan Gouard (14.7 ppg - right) is the senior floor leader, who while not an ideal assist guy (3.7 apg, 3.6 topg), is more dangerous as a scorer. He put up 27 points against Northern Iowa. Sophomore forward Blake Schilb (12.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg) is sure to be one of the best players in the Horizon League before the end of his career. He's a versatile 6-7 forward, capable of playing four positions, and with the addition of more strength this season he's been more effective in the post.
Sharpshooters: Loyola has some dangerous perimeter shooters. Gouard has been on a tear of late, as since opening the season with a 5-for-14 overall effort, he has hit 34 of his last 73 (46.6%) shots from the field, including 10 of 20 (50.0%) from beyond the arc, and is now at 46.2 percent on the season for three-point attempts. Freshman Dave Telander has also proven to be an effective long-range weapon. Coming off the bench, he's shooting 44 percent on three-pointers.
Defensive Focus: Whitesell came to Loyola with the reputation of being a defensive-minded coach. Thus far this season, it appears the Ramblers are headed in that direction. They have been successful in controlling tempo, holding their opponents to 62.9 ppg and a 42.6 (159 for 373) field goal percentage.
Familiar Locales: Telander hails from Brother Rice HS in Chicago and is a former teammate of UNC signee Bobby Frasor. Telander was the leading scorer on the 2003-4 team that went 26-2 (the best record in the HS's history), while Frasor was second in scoring and led the team in assists. Also, Loyola's Schilb and freshman David Gale both attended Brewster Academy (N.H.), the same prep school as UNC junior Damion Grant.
Background Location: Chicago, Ill. Enrollment: 13,352 Conference: Horizon League Nickname: Ramblers Colors: Maroon & Gold Head Coach: Jim Whitesell Record at LUC: 1st season
Projected Starters: DaJuan Gouard (6-2, G, Sr.) – 14.7 ppg, 3.7 apg, 46% 3pt Majak Kou (6-5, G, So.) – 9.9 ppg, 3.3 reb Blake Schilb (6-7, F, So.) - 12.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg Tom Levin (6-8, F, Jr.) - 5.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg Tyrelle Blair (6-11, C, So.) – 4.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg Key Reserves: Dave Telander (6-1, G, Fr.) – 6.4 ppg, 44% 3pt Anthony Smith (6-9, F, Sr.) – 3.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg Tracey Robinson (6-7, F, Fr.) – 2.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg Pierre Parker (6-3, G, Fr.) – 2.6 ppg
Schilb ... Kou