No. 1 Loyola Maryland is one win away from doing something it has not done before.
If the Greyhounds (10-1 overall and 6-0 in the Patriot League) can defeat Boston University (1-9, 1-5) on Saturday at 12 p.m., they will host the conference tournament semifinals April 25 and the final two days later at Ridley Athletic Complex.
Loyola never hosted the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament, which was awarded to the previous year’s regular-season champion. Denver hosted that league’s tournament in 2011 and 2012, and when the Greyhounds won the title in 2012, the ECAC elected to switch the host site to Hobart.
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Coach Charley Toomey said the players are well aware of what a victory over the Terriers will mean for the program.
“We’ve mentioned it to the guys,” he said on Wednesday morning. “Anytime you have an opportunity to challenge your guys, you’re going to do it as a coach. Certainly, this Saturday, there’s a lot on the line. We want to host. We haven’t hosted a conference championship at Ridley, and I think that’s an exciting possibility for the university and for our program.”
If Loyola can cement its status as the Patriot League tournament host, the team could play its final five games of the regular season without leaving the state of Maryland. After Saturday’s 7-6 double-overtime decision at Navy, the Greyhounds will meet Boston University and Bucknell at home, play at least one and possibly two Patriot League tournament games, and then clash with No. 9 Johns Hopkins in the regular-season finale at Ridley.
It’s a tantalizing stretch of games for Loyola and Toomey.
“I think our guys get excited to come out of their own locker room,” he said. “We play at a pretty high level when we’re at home. That’s certainly a bonus, and as my athletic director just pointed out to me, when we play Bucknell, I think that’s a CBS [Sports Network] game. I think the Patriot League semifinals and final are TV games, and I think Hopkins is a TV game. To have not only the ability to play at home, but the exposure is going to be great for the program. But that’s all stuff that people worry about. My team needs to stay grounded and just worry about being a better team, and that’s what we’re going to continue to harp on.”