Going to do something a little different tonight. You can get live-coverage of the game here on the blog with photos, commentary, statistics and insight. Please leave any questions in the comments. If this works out well I'll try doing it again later in the season. Thanks!
(Posts are in chronological order with the most recent at the top.)
Final: Loyola 73, Eastern Illinois 62
One more note: Ben Averkamp, because of his ball-handling skills, makes a good guy to have in press-break situations. He's tall so he can jump up and grab the ball and then he can bring it most of the way down court.
Under 4 timeout: Loyola is really trying to slow the game down right now up 68-52 with 2:55 remaining. It's causing the Ramblers to have to force shots near the end of the shot clock instead of staying in the rhythm of the offense.
Also, Jordan Hicks was named the U.S. Cellular MVP of the Game. He's got a team-high 16 points tonight.
Fun entertainment fact: Loyola cheerleaders need better arms when tossing t-shirts. The press row caught two of them and then redistributed them farther up the stands.
Under 8 timeout: Big moment with 9:54 remaining when Tyler Laser picked up his fourth personal foul. Ramblers were up 55-45 at the time and Laser had a game-high 19 points.
Laser came back in at the end of the timeout with the Panthers trailing by 15.
Under 12 timeout: Some great hustle by Courtney Stanley on defense tonight. I wonder if having Denzel Brito be able to spell him, even for a 10 minutes a night, is going to make a big impact in his performance on the court.
You HAVE to guard Geoff McCammon this season. He's confident enough to take the shots now after a summer working out with elite athletes and his shot looks really good out of the hand.
Note: Big advantage for Loyola in this game? 21-4 its way on points off turnovers. That's more than the current 54-41 margin. This is why these are important!
Under 16 timeout: Loyola went right inside to start the second half. An excellent idea. Ben Averkamp and Walt Gibler both got easy baskets to give Loyola a 42-25 lead before the Panthers were forced to call a timeout just 50 seconds into the half.
Bad perimeter defense is starting to cost the Ramblers. In particular Tyler Laser is starting to find some room. Of course, bad defense gets you a pretty quick seat on the bench. Also, Jim Whitesell switched Jordan Hicks onto Laser. Laser couldn't get a perimeter look, but he did beat Hicks to the basket. It looks like Hicks is going to try and deny the ball.
Ben Averkamp has struggled a bit defensively tonight. I think that's because this team doesn't have a traditional "big" in the middle.
Halftime: The photos in the post are from earlier in the game. Hope everyone enjoys them!
Some quick halftime stats notes:
- Loyola has 6 turnovers - that's okay.
- The Ramblers shot 5-10 from three-point range.
- Jordan Hicks has led the team with 11 points.
- Loyola has 6 offensive rebounds.
- Would like to see the big men get more involved against a smaller team in EIU.
Under 8 timeout: Andy Polka does a good job of doing little things that impact plays. He's a "glue-guy" type player on a talented team. He's filling that role nicely and letting players like Geoff McCammon get the "stats."
It's 29-9 by the way. A very nice start.
There won't be any Under 4 timeout update, because there will be photos at halftime!
Under 12 timeout: I know Terrance Hill is shooting better this season, but I still think he takes too many shots. On defense Eastern Illinois is only getting points while running very tight offensive sets. The one rub screen they ran was gorgeous. Loyola got lost on defense once and it looks like Jordan Hicks and Ben Averkamp are coming back into the game quickly because of it.
Loyola is hot from three early. Hicks, Hill and Geoff McCammon have all hit one. The team is 3-of-5. Last season Loyola shot 37.2 percent from three and that was really good. This season the Ramblers came in shooting an unbelievable 49.2 percent. I guess we'll see what happens when they finally leave the friendly confines of the Gentile Center.
Under 16 timeout: Jordan Hicks made a nice play early to come in and grab an offensive rebound. His activity is very valuable. This Panthers team is short. They start 3 guards and a 6'6 forward. Point #2 in the factors is important because of it.
Two baskets by Hicks near the basket cause an early 30 second timeout with the Ramblers up 8-1. All of the baskets have been from the free throw line or in the paint. Good start.
Loyola is up 12-1 at the under 16. Hicks is 3-of-3 from the field.
Starting Lineup Announcements: No surprises in either lineup. The players to watch for Eastern Illinois are guards Tyler Laser (10.0 PPG) and Jeremy Granger (13.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG). My guess is that Terrance Hill will be able to lock down one of them, but I'll watch the match ups closely early.
2 minutes until tip:
Just a reminder. The "Loyola Factors" are tracked here after each game. They were originally introduced in this post
. They're designed to key on things that have haunted the Ramblers over the past few seasons. They are:
- Not turning the ball over (TO% less than 19 percent)
- Getting strong interior play (12+ points from at least one front court player)
- Consistency from half-to-half (the most arbitrary metric)
- Clog the paint on defense (Blk% of 9% or higher, OppFG% of 48% or less)
5 minutes until tip: Loyola is out on the court warming up. Chim Kadima is stretching next to Jonathan Gac and a bunch of guys are shooting to warm-up - including Ben Averkamp who was shooting a bunch of three-pointers.
While waiting for the game I was calculating some statistics about the Ramblers thus far. For instance, here are they are sorted by the percent of the total possessions they use while on the court:
- Geoff McCammon - 30.9%
- Ryan Sterling - 30.5%
- Terrance Hill - 29.6%
- Walt Gibler - 24.2%
- Chim Kadima - 22.8%
- Ben Averkamp - 18.6%
- Jordan Hicks - 16.6%
- Courtney Stanley - 13.7%
- Denzel Brito - 13.2%
- Andy Polka - 8.8%
Most surprising to me? Sterling - albeit with only one game of data, and Polka being at the bottom of the list. He's really become a facilitator in this offense instead of a guy that's try to get his own shots.