Emotions may have been flying high after the Loyola men’s basketball team’s 4-0 start in November, the program’s best start since the 2005-06 squad won its first six games.
So what is the atmosphere like since the Greyhounds have lost three of their past four games?
“We’re not panicking,” coach G.G. Smith said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re just trying to get better. We’re trying to prepare for Stony Brook [on Dec. 19]. It’s a great time of the year to get in some extra film, some extra shots, some extra lifts, some extra practice time. We’re in finals right now. So we have to make sure that the guys get done what they’re supposed to do in the classroom. … It’s that time of the year to get better and regrouped. As a coaching staff, we want to evaluate everything, evaluate our players, evaluate our play, and find the right rotation going into next week.”
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To be fair, Loyola's recent games have offered a different caliber of opponents from the first four. Binghamton, Cornell, Fairfield and UMBC are a combined 6-32, while Connecticut, West Virginia, Catholic and Mount St. Mary’s are 22-13.
“Obviously, the level of competition picked up with West Virginia and UConn,” Smith said. “We played pretty well in the second half against Catholic and against the Mount, we just lost our minds for about the last 3½ minutes of the first half. We had nine straight turnovers, and that was kind of the game. We went from being up eight to being down by five, and we ended the half on [the wrong end of] a 17-4 run, and their pressure hurt us.
It’s very, very hard to implement in practice the way they played, the way they pressed, and we just didn’t handle those 3½ minutes very well. But other than that, we’re 5-3 and we’re right where we want to be. We have two tough games coming up, two games in three days against St. Joe’s [on Dec. 21] and Stony Brook and then we finish up our non-conference play at Miami [on Dec. 30]. Like I told you before, our whole goal is to get ready for conference play [in the Patriot League] and get ready for the Navy game on Jan. 2.”