NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Loyola University New Orleans men’s basketball season officially caame to an end today after they were not included as part of the field for the NAIA National Tournament.
Wolfpack head coach Dr. Michael Giorlando enjoyed his best year with the program in his eight year career. The ‘Pack finished the season 20-10 overall and 11-7 in SSAC play. The Wolfpack enjoyed the best regular season winning percentage (.679) and their first 20 win season since Jack Orsley’s 1947-48 squad.
Loyola’s season culminated in their first Southern States Athletic Conference West Division Title in just their second year of conference play.
The Wolfpack started the season hot at 4-0, in which they nearly upset Tulane University 68-70 in an exhibition bout.
Late November/early December witnessed two close contests between Loyola and then ranked #21 Xavier. The ‘Pack swept the 21st best team in the nation in a two game set for the first time in school history. Loyola defeated Xavier 66-59 at The Barn before winning 95-91 in triple overtime in The Den.
Loyola started the 2012 portion of their schedule 7-5 as they battled through injuries and kept up in the divisional race with Belhaven and Mobile.
Then, on February 11, with five games remaining in the regular season, the ‘Pack notched an 86-76 win over Faulkner in The Den, and went on to produce a season high six game win streak that stretched into the SSAC Tournament. The six game span was the best since the 1966-67 season.
The streak saw a clutch 74-70 win over then division leader Belhaven on Feb. 16. Then, in the final game of the regular season, Loyola emerged with a 62-55 win over Mobile in a winner take all game for the divisional crown. The ‘Pack’s SSAC West Title also came on Senior Day in which Corey Gray, Cameron Cates, Chris Joseph, Damir Durmo, Dylan Kremer, and manager Jeffrey Ramon were honored before the game.
Loyola’s hot stretch of play resulted in them receiving a vote in the NAIA Division I Top 25 Poll on February 27. The vote marked the first time the Wolfpack had been acknowledged during the season and put them in a tie for 37th in the nation.
Loyola then started the SSAC tourney with an 84-75 quarterfinal victory over Emmanuel. However, the ‘Pack dropped the semi-final match-up 63-72 against Belhaven, which ended Loyola’s season.
The 2011-12 season also witnessed great individual performances and milestones.
Corey Gray finished his senior campaign with 531 points. The performance ranks as the ninth most points scored in a single season. In addition, Gray finishes his Wolfpack career ranked ninth all the Loyola all-time career scoring list with 1,387 points.
Gray led the team in scoring with 17.7 points per game. The Indiana native finished the year ranked nationally by the NAIA in eight categories, including 15th in three-point field goals made per game (2.6) and 16th in total three-point field goals made (78). Gray earned SSAC, Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities, and Louisiana Sports Writers Association player of the week honors for his efforts during the week of Jan. 9-15. Finally, Gray was named to the All-Conference team.
Cameron Cates also enjoyed a great senior season, averaging 12.67 points per game. Cates recorded two 20+ scoring games on the year, including a career high 28 points against Belhaven on January 21. The center also recorded three double-doubles. Cates achieved a career high five blocks vs. Belhaven on Feb. 16 and ranked 35 in the NAIA in total blocks (39) and blocks per game (1.3). Cates was named to the All-Division team.
The future shines bright for the ‘Pack as they enjoyed great play from freshman McCall Tomeny and sophomore Robert Lovaglio.
Tomeny averaged 11.3 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game. He had career highs against SSAC conference foe Southern Poly on January 7th, scoring 28 points and collecting 14 rebounds in that contest. Tomeny accomplished three double-doubles on the year. Furthermore, Tomeny was announced to the All-Freshmen team.
Lovaglio averaged 16.08 points a game and a team leading 6.88 rebounds and 2.38 assists per game. Lovaglio ranked 38th in the NAIA in field goal percentage with .514. He too achieved three double-doubles on the season. The Florida native was named SSAC Player of the Week for his performance during the last week of play. Finally, Lovaglio earned All-Conference honors.
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