The 4-0 start that the Loyola men’s basketball team enjoyed seems like a distant memory now.
Since that opening, the Greyhounds have lost eight of their last 10 contests, compiling a 6-8 overall record and a 1-2 mark in the Patriot League. A seven-game stretch in which the team has dropped six contests was broken up only by a 63-57 overtime win over Navy on Jan. 2.
Despite Loyola’s recent troubles, coach G.G. Smith insisted that there’s no reason to get hysterical yet.
"[W]e’re not in panic mode,” he said Thursday afternoon. "We know it’s still early in the season, still early in conference play. I don’t think we can play much worse, and that’s a good thing. ... We’re just not a very good team right now, and we have to figure out a way to defend a little bit better and make shots.
"Teams are really starting to figure us out, so we have to make some adjustments as a coaching staff and make some adjustments to get out guys better looks."
Slow starts have become a problem for the Greyhounds. In their last 10 games, they have trailed at halftime eight times and been tied once. The one time the team led at intermission occurred Wednesday night when Loyola had a 26-22 lead against Patriot League rival American, but the Eagles shot 81 percent (17-of-21) in the second half to coast to a 65-51 victory.
“Our guys understand that the game is 40 minutes, and that you’ve got to do the same thing in the first half that you’ve done in the second half,” Smith said. “You’ve got to be disciplined enough, you’ve got to be smart enough to withstand those runs. We’ve given up way too many runs. … We’ve got to take better pride defensively.
"We’re not handling adversity very well at all and when things get tough, you’ve got to be mentally strong to make fewer mistakes. … We’ve got to get better at that. That’s probably one of the biggest reasons why we’ve lost eight of our last 10 games. We’ve got to snap out of it somehow, some way. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and play harder and try to get better.”
The Greyhounds have an opportunity to emerge out of their funk with conference games at home against Lehigh (8-8, 1-2) on Saturday and Lafayette (4-10, 0-1) on Monday. Positive results in those contests could be significant for Loyola, which trails league leaders American, Army and Boston University, which share identical, 3-0 conference records.
“You look at the standings every Wednesday and Saturday because that’s when you usually play, but you can’t look too far ahead,” Smith said. “We have to go one game at a time. The most important game on our schedule is Lehigh on Saturday afternoon. ... Obviously, you can’t help but notice that you’re already two games out, but you’ve got to chip away, chip away, and hopefully, you can improve every game.”