It was like deja vue in the Joseph Gentile Center on Wednesday night. Butler and Loyola traded punches like two heavyweight boxers. And while it seemed like the Bulldogs had delivered the knock out on a few occasions, the underdogs took the blows until the end, only to lose by decision.
Well for one, it's earlier. The Ramblers have a while to recover from this, though they do have to buck up and take on Valparaiso on Saturday. Also, this game doesn't seem like a fluke. Both teams brought a lot of effort and if Loyola had won no one would've said they got lucky. Then there's health. Right now the Ramblers have it. Well, with the possible exception of forward Walt Gibler. That's very important.
- Courtney Stanley still doesn't have a reliable backup. - For a guy that played 37 minutes Stanley made some incredible plays to help Loyola stay in the game. He had two turnovers and five assists in 37 minutes. One of those turnovers happened in a big moment, but otherwise he played very well. Still, those minutes are going to pile up if he has to play 35 plus every night. He came into the game averaging 31 minutes per game, but as Whitesell's bench shrinks he'll play more minutes. You can't burn him out now. Gabe Kindred played three minutes against Butler and the team struggled. Apparently he was a difference maker in two road games though. We'll see how this plays out moving forward.
- The team forgot to go inside for a half. - In the first half Butler was bottling up Loyola's offense and forcing tough shots, but the Ramblers didn't force the ball inside. In the second Loyola went straight to the paint and Andrew Smith and Matt Howard both had to deal with some foul situations. Not only that, but Loyola started getting some easy basket and foul shots. With bigs like Andy Polka, Ben Averkamp and Gibler the Ramblers can't get outside shot happy.
- The Ramblers have to defend the perimeter. - Butler shot 9-of-18 from three-point range and some of them were backbreakers. The Ramblers will have to get out on shooters more. Howard went 2-2, but more troubling was Zach Hahn's 4-5 performance. Howard's new three-point shot might have been surprising to defenders, but Hahn is a known quantity that Loyola had to account for and didn't.