Brett Harvey's motivation is as easy to plot as his assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Loyola College freshman was a young man possessed Jan. 2, when the Greyhounds beat Marist, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference favorite that is located an hour's drive up the Hudson River from his New York home. Then, feeling he had let the Greyhounds down in a loss to Towson, Harvey produced a baseline drive that propelled them to the first of two road wins last weekend.
Tonight (7 o'clock) at Reitz Arena, Harvey will turn his attention to Manhattan, his first college choice.
Harvey committed to play for the Jaspers, but when coach Bobby Gonzalez moved to Seton Hall last April, Barry Rohrssen came in and freed recruits to pursue other options. Harvey read those tea leaves, gave Loyola another look and solved a point guard problem for Jimmy Patsos.
"He tries to prove himself every night," Patsos said. "Brett isn't the flashiest player to look at, but he's deceiving, and tough. In that way, he reminds me of Bobby Hurley."
Hurley ran Duke when the Blue Devils became the last repeat NCAA champion, in 1991 and '92. Harvey gets his cues from Greyhounds assistant coach Terrell Stokes, the point on a pair of Maryland teams that got to the Sweet 16.
"I was the 4 [power forward] for a Division III, and Terrell was a point guard in the ACC, has a little better perspective than I do there," Patsos said. "After we lost to Navy in the season opener, I asked Terrell to get more involved with Brett. He's a quiet kid, but when he speaks, it's worth listening. He'll suggest a defense, or tell us to run a play for Marquis when the defense is shading Gerald."
Marquis Sullivan, a sophomore out of Archbishop Spalding, has become a make-you-pay three-point shooter. Providence transfer Gerald Brown is making a bid for MAAC Player of the Year. Omari Isreal, a transfer from Notre Dame, has shored up the front line, but on the biggest surprise in the Metro Atlantic, Harvey has been the revelation, the only Greyhound to start every game and a major reason they lead the MAAC in field-goal percentage defense.
Loyola began a seven-game winning streak in the MAAC on Dec. 10, when it won at Manhattan by 19. Marist and Siena are higher in the Rating Percentage Index, but the Greyhounds top the league with a 7-1 start. It is heady stuff for a team that lost top recruit Tony Lewis to a preseason injury and has had center Hassan Fofana on the shelf with an ankle injury the last month.
Picked to finish fifth in the MAAC, Loyola is entering unfamiliar territory. In five of the past six seasons, the Greyhounds didn't even get to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. They've gotten to the MAAC semifinals just twice, in 1998 and '94, when Skip Prosser steered a miracle run to Loyola's only NCAA appearance and Harvey was in kindergarten.
Tough times in A-10
Five players were shot at a campus dance a month before practice began, reserve center Almamy Thiero is hospitalized with blood clots in his lungs and coach Ron Everhart was stricken by a gastrointestinal disorder last month. Duquesne soldiers on, however, improving last season's 3-24 record to 5-11.
"Our guys are pretty resilient," Everhart said. "They are playing for a cause. It [the turmoil] has been good for them, from the standpoint that it has bonded them. We're limited in what we can do, but they have come out hard."
The Dukes are trying to end a three-game losing streak that began with a loss to La Salle. That's the only Atlantic 10 Conference win for the Explorers, who are 8-11 overall, thanks to the steady play of Darnell Harris, a junior guard out of St. Frances Academy. He scored a career-high 32 points on eight three-pointers in a one-point loss to Penn, and is averaging a team-high 15.6 points.
"He has the mentality you have to have to be an outstanding offensive player," La Salle coach John Giannini said. "He's playing with confidence. He wants the ball in his hands, and is ready to shoot when he gets it."
A Durant comes home
His younger brother is starring at Texas, but Tony Durant intends to finish his college career in his home state, playing for Towson.
While Kevin Durant is the clear front-runner for national Freshman of the Year, Tony plays for Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan. A 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward who played for Suitland High in Prince George's County, Durant will join Towson next season and presumably get some of the minutes that are going to seniors Dennard Abraham and Winstonn Tubbs.
The Tigers are home tonight (7 o'clock, MASN) against Delaware, where freshman Brian Johnson is carrying a hefty load at the point, playing 37.7 minutes a game, third in the Colonial Athletic Association. Before he spent a year at prep school, Johnson ran the show on some championship teams at Mount St. Joseph.
Towson is also home Saturday, against Hofstra. According to the RPI, the Pride will be the strongest team to play in Baltimore this season, at least until Drexel comes to the Towson Center at the end of February. Towson's Gary Neal and Hofstra's Loren Stokes are the top two scorers in the CAA. firstname.lastname@example.org