The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers officially announced their 2009-10 schedule on Wednesday. And honestly, it's probably the worst non-conference schedule any team in the Chicagoland area will play this season.
The important numbers?
- 1 - The number of opponents from a BCS conference (the Big 12's Kansas State).
- 2 - The number of non-exhibition games against non-NCAA Division I schools (St. Francis (Ill.) and St. Ambrose).
Those are signs of a poorly made schedule, or a schedule designed for a team and a coach completely unsure of where the season will lead.
But there are more problems.
For instance, the Gentile Center is actually a pretty nice venue. It's on Loyola's campus. It's got a bunch of seats with great views - heck anywhere in the arena is a good seat. What it doesn't have - most of the time - is a lot of fans. Loyola needs fans to come out to the game. It needs to generate an atmosphere that will get people to come out to the games and get recruits excited about playing basketball for the Ramblers. Do any of the 15 home games on the schedule do that?
Simply put, no. I think we can excuse people if they don't get excited for Western Michigan, Canisius, Albany or San Francisco. That's the extent of Loyola's non-conference, NCAA DI home schedule. Not exactly a murderers' row. I guess the good news is the Ramblers could potentially win all of the match-ups.
If nationally ranked, and darling of the Horizon League, Butler wasn't coming to the Gentile Center on January 21 would there be any reason for the casual fan to come to Rogers Park this season? Probably not.
Then there's the most perplexing game on the schedule "December 20 - at SIU-Edwardsville." Huh? That just gave me a big perplexed shock when I read it. How many people even know the Cougars are a Division I team, let alone one that the Ramblers should travel to to play. Last season, as a provisional school, SIU-E went 3-12 against NCAA Division I opponents - including a loss versus Loyola at the Gentile Center. Somehow that justified a trip to the Vadalabene Center for a reputation damaging game no matter the outcome?
Now I understand why the Ramblers waited until the last minute to release their entire schedule. It's one that throughout begs the question, "Why?"