(New Orleans, La.) The Loyola University New Orleans men’s basketball team was tabbed for a fourth place finish in the western division of the SSAC men’s basketball preseason rankings released by the Southern States Athletic Conference on Sunday.
The Wolf Pack came in fourth in the competitive western division while tying with Southern Polytechnic for sixth place overall in the SSAC with 116 points. Loyola placed behind William Carey, Faulkner, Emmanuel, Martin Methodist, and Mobile in the inaugural rankings of the 15 conference teams for the 2013-14 season.
“We are working every day to improve as a team and hope we can see that progress throughout the season. I am not sure what the rankings mean for our team at this point; there are 14 other teams competing hard to win a conference championship so we need to keep focused on our strengths as a team and take the season one day at a time,” said head coach Dr. Michael Giorlando.
Last season, the Pack finished in fourth place in the western division which invited a matchup with Coastal Georgia in the first round of the SSAC tournament. The Pack won that game handily, 99-72 as McCall Tomeny scored 40 points and had 14 rebounds while Robert Lovaglio added 23 points on five three pointers. Unfortunately, their season ended in the next game as they fell to Lee University 81-63 despite having four starters in double figures.
In 2012-13, Loyola had three double digit victories over top 15 squads. The Wolf Pack defeated #6 Southern Poly 80-67 on December 1st and then took down 13th ranked Xavier four days later, 77-67. Loyola closed the regular season with an exciting senior night where they overwhelmed the ninth ranked team in the NAIA, Faulkner, to the tune of a 61-43 victory.
This season, the Pack returns All-Division player McCall Tomeny, as well as starters Kyle Simmons, Daniel Kuhl, and Cameron Hill. Mason Ibert, an SSAC All-Freshman team player, returns as do Roco Gandara, Ben Amoss, Jared Townsend, Rex Warner, Aleksander Matoski, and Austin Roark. In total, the team returns 12 of 13 players from last year’s team and adds exciting freshman Jalen Gray, Nate Pierre, and Derek Graves. However, All-Conference performer Robert Lovaglio will miss the season due to injury.
The Pack will open up their season on October 31st as they take on Carver College in The Den at 7:30 p.m. The team will then head across Freret Street to take on Tulane University in an exhibition on November 3rd at 7 p.m.