After Tuesday night’s 76-66 loss to No. 13 Connecticut, the Loyola men’s basketball team has six days until its next game at West Virginia. The break is especially well deserved for Dylon Cormier.
The 6-foot-3 senior guard scored 23 points in 36 minutes against the Huskies – both of which were team highs. This season, the Baltimore native and Cardinal Gibbons graduate leads the Greyhounds (4-1) in scoring (28.4 points per game) and minutes (37.6).
Cormier, who led the team in points and minutes last year and ranked second in both categories as a sophomore, has scored at least 20 points in each game this season. But coach G.G. Smith admitted that he would like to lighten Cormier’s workload.
“The first four games, we were playing in so many tight games, and he’s pretty much our only guy who can really go get a bucket and really score,” Smith said Wednesday morning as he and the team were about to board an airplane to return to Baltimore. “We’ve had a couple games where we went seven or eight minutes without scoring a field goal. So you look to take him out, but he’s worked hard this summer, he’s conditioned himself to be in shape. He’s told me, ‘Coach, I can play the whole game if you want.’ But I’ve got to do a better job of taking him out for a minute here or a minute there and just give him some rest because he’s not going to play like this all season. But the minutes he has played, he’s really shown up and he’s really led us.”
Cormier could use some assistance from his teammates, and one who has developed into a pleasant surprise for Smith is sophomore guard Eric Laster. The 6-6 Laster has gone from averaging 0.8 points last season to 9.8 points thus far, which ranks third on the team.
Laster has been especially successful from behind the 3-point line. He has converted a team-best 64.7 percent (11-of-17) of his long-distance attempts after making just 1 three-pointer in 11 tries (9.1 percent) last year.
“Eric Laster has been a bit of a surprise with the way he’s been shooting the ball from 3-point range,” Smith said. “He’s really worked on his shot this summer, and he’s shown some resolve. … After losing a guy like Robert Olson [32.2 percent last season] and Anthony Winbush [31.4 percent], having Eric Laster in that role for us has been really, really surprising.”
Smith said he initially had another role in mind for Laster.
“I anticipated him being a defensive stopper because he is long and athletic,” Smith said. “I didn’t expect him to be one of our top shooters percentage-wise. So I’m just really shocked at how well he’s shooting the ball.”