Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Men’s Basketball Preview

The Loyola men’s basketball team has high expectations and a newfound sense of optimism going into this season.

After finishing last season with a record of 19-14 and showing marked improvement each of the past two seasons, the Wolf Pack is expected to break out this upcoming season. In his third year as the head of the program, Stacy Hollowell, head coach, believes the team is poised to take a leap.

“We will have good chemistry, which will be to our benefit,” Hollowell said, pointing out that all of last year’s major players are returning to the team this year.

Though Hollowell believes he has a strong team, he does believe there are areas the team needs to be better at–specifically, decision making in the open court.

“We can run when the opportunity is there, but we aren’t trying to be UNLV and score 130 points a game. We will have to make better decisions in transition,” Hollowell said.

Jalen Gray, finance senior and guard on the basketball team, echoes Hollowell’s sentiments and believes that the Wolf Pack will be a balanced and versatile team; one that can adapt and play any style of basketball.

“I think we will play a mix of up-tempo and half court basketball. We will push it when we can, but our half court offense will be stronger this year. We should execute better,” Gray said.

Because all of the team’s major contributors are back this year, the Wolf Pack will have the chemistry needed for an increased level of play.

“I think everybody is going to be a step up from last year. There wont be any slow starts. We know what to expect this year. The familiarity is going to help us immensely,” Gray said.

Even with the bright outlook on the season, there is still adversity that has already hit the team. Senior guard Derek Graves, a finance student, and junior forward Ben Fields, an accounting major, will both be sidelined for the second year in a row due to injuries. Though they were expected to contribute on the court, it’s their leadership that impresses Hollowell the most.

“Ben Fields will miss the season, but he will be a strong contributor and leader for the team; he’s a good and special kid. The same goes for Derek Graves,” Hollowell said.

Even though Graves will miss the season, he remains positive and upbeat, and he is excited about the growth of the program under Hollowell’s guidance.

“It has been amazing seeing the growth of the program. It was rough my freshman year, but since Coach Stacy has taken over, everything has become a lot more competitive. The team now goes into every game believing we can get a win,” Graves said.

This type of competitive attitude has the team believing they can accomplish certain goals that the program hasn’t been able to achieve in years.

“We believe we can win the conference this year and make it to the national tournament, which would be big because it hasn’t happened in a long time for the men’s program. We have been practicing and going hard. It’s time to show people,” Gray said.

The Wolf Pack will open the season at home on Oct. 24 against Carver Bible College.

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