The Loyola College men are as healthy as they've been all winter.
Towson is getting there, just in time for the final weekend of the regular season for the Tigers, Greyhounds and three other state teams trying to enhance their seed in their respective conference tournaments.
Loyola, which could be seeded anywhere from first to fourth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament, faces a tense three days in western New York. It plays at Niagara tonight and at Canisius on Sunday. Two wins, coupled with a Marist loss to Siena, would get the Greyhounds the top seed in the MAAC tournament and, if things don't work out there, an automatic berth in the National Invitation Tournament.
Gerald Brown, the MAAC's leading scorer, is back after taking ill Feb. 11 and missing two games, which the Greyhounds won without him. Coach Jimmy Patsos also was missing from Saturday's BracketBusters win at Tennessee State, as he was in Colorado, attending the funeral for the mother of sophomore Dan Ficke.
In his absence, Brian Blaney ran that road trip and Terrell Stokes called the shots in the game. Senior Shane James started in place of Brown and scored the game-winning basket, adding to the contrast to his first end-of-season run with Loyola.
"We went 1-27 when I was a freshman," James said. "On our last road trip, we just wanted to get the season over with. This is so much different. This team seems to get stronger on the road."
Loyola (16-11, 11-5) is 5-2 in MAAC road games. The Greyhounds have never gotten to 17 wins in their Division I history. The MAAC tournament will be played next Friday through March 5 in Bridgeport, Conn.
Loyola lost nonconference games to Towson and Navy, which play in leagues where the bar is higher.
The Tigers' regular-season finale comes tomorrow at noon, at the Towson Center, against Drexel. Towson is 0-7 against the five teams above it in the Colonial Athletic Association and could be seeded anywhere from sixth to eighth in the 12-team CAA, which will hold its tournament next Friday through March 5 in Richmond, Va.
Towson (14-15, 8-9) played its BracketBusters game at Bucknell on Feb. 17 without Tommy Breaux. The 6-foot-9 junior, who has more than half of the Tigers' blocked shots, was bedridden with flu-like symptoms for several days, but played 12 minutes in Wednesday's loss at Old Dominion.
Navy (12-14, 4-9) can determine where on the road it will open the Patriot League tournament. The Midshipmen finish the regular season tomorrow at Colgate. Those two and Army share fifth place, and a win for the Midshipmen would most likely send them to American for a quarterfinal game Wednesday. The eight-team Patriot League plays all its tournament games at the home of the higher-seeded team.
UMBC (11-17, 7-8) beat Maine last night and took sole possession of fourth place in the America East. The conference tournament opens next weekend in Boston, and for the first time in their four seasons in the America East, the Retrievers will not have to appear in a play-in game.
UMBC concludes the regular season Sunday, at New Hampshire.
Mount St. Mary's (10-18, 9-8) won at Wagner last night, ending a three-game losing streak and clinching a spot in the Northeast Conference tournament. It takes eight of the league's 11 teams and is played on campus, at higher seeds. Now in fifth place, the Mountaineers finish the regular season at St. Francis (N.Y.) tomorrow.