It's been said that the point guard is the pulse of the team. Well, if that is the case than Loyola had two hearts during the entire 2009-10 season. The Ramblers never decided if Terrance Hill or Courtney Stanley was the team's lead guard, and while it gave the team flexibility on the court, it eventually led to their demise.
Maybe though Hill was the soul and Stanley was the heart. There were games when Hill, a junior college transfer, an infectious winning attitude into the Ramblers. There were also times when Hill's need to shoot, and the streaky results, deeply impacted the efficiency of Loyola's offense. Still, in a way that streaky play was similar to Loyola's season.
The Ramblers 2009-10 started promising. The Ramblers finished the
non-conference season with a 10-2 record. But that was a record bought
with fools gold. The wins were close - over Western Michigan, Bradley
and San Francisco, or not of very much quality - against
SIU-Edwardsville, Albany, St. Francis (IL) and St. Ambrose. And when
Horizon League play began, it showed.
The Ramblers split opening weekend in the Horizon League. But the win
at Milwaukee during that first weekend would be Loyola's second best
win of the conference season. Only a home victory over Wright State
really matched the success.
Oh sure, there were close moments. Looking back to January 21, 2010
Rambler fans will see a moment when a season turned. Loyola trailed
Butler 48-47 in a rocking Gentile Center as Hill attempted a
last-second three-point shot. It didn't go down, neither did the tip
back, and the Ramblers' season would spiral down from there.
The fact that the play was run for Hill instead of forwards Andy Polka
or Walt Gibler seemed to suggest a fundamental problem with this team
all season long. The Ramblers never played to their strengths on
Gibler, the Horizon League's Sixth Man of the Year, is an efficient,
possession eating machine. When he was on the court, he used more than
a quarter of Loyola's possessions, but he used them well. He scored.
Similarly, when Polka was assertive in the paint he delivered. Add in
Ben Averkamp and the Ramblers had a trio of excellent post scorers.
Yet, Loyola let the guards run the show. Every Stanley turnover made
another fan cringe. Every Hill missed shot made someone duck for cover.
And then in a blink of an eye it was over at Cleveland State in the
first round of the Horizon League Tournament. The Ramblers got down
early and never recovered. Only Gibler - 21 points and 10 boards - and
Polka - 21 points and 12 boards - finished in double-figures. Stanley
finished with 5 turnovers to just 3 assists.
So it is over. This team had a lot of depth. They had a lot of
promise. But it all ends with a 14-17 record overall, 5-13 in
conference and another 8th place finish. Loyola fans want more.
Ramblers backers deserve more.
Yes, most of this team will be back next season. Still, wait till next
year is becoming an all too familiar refrain at another place on the
This ends Loyola's season, but much, much more on the Ramblers as the off-season begins.