NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Loyola University New Orleans men’s basketball team begins their eighth year under head coach Dr. Michael Giorlando this Thursday night against the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
The Wolfpack is coming off of a 16-14 season, their third winning season in the past four years. They will be striving to achieve their first SSAC Division and Conference Championship while under Giorlando.
Last season, the ‘Pack tied for third in the SSAC West, two wins behind leaders William Carey and Mobile, and accomplished a 6-6 conference record. Loyola will look to keep the momentum they had at the end of the season, when they advanced to the semi-finals in the SSAC Tournament.
The ‘Pack will rely on senior shooting guard Corey Gray for his experience, leadership, and three-point shooting ability. Gray returns after ranking 10th in NAIA Division-1 in 3-point field goal percentage and 25th in total 3-pointers made. Gray was also named National Player of the Week for Jan. 17-23, and selected for the All-Division and SSAC All-Tournament team.
This season, Loyola will replace NAIA second team All-American Ryan Brock. Last year, Brock was ranked fourth in points per game and 27th in total scoring in the NAIA. Brock also led the team in rebounds, assists, and steals, and ranks second on the Loyola all-time scoring list with 1,706 points.
Giorlando recruited six new players for this season: juniors Steven Davis and Mohamed Diakite, and freshmen McCall Tomeny, Tyler James, Kyle Simmons, and Luke Livaudais. Tomeny, a 6-6 forward, won the state championship and the state championship M.V.P. award in his senior season for Christian Life Academy, and is projected to make an immediate impact on the team.
The ‘Pack will also welcome back to the fold seniors: Cameron Cates, Chris Joseph, Dylan Kremer, and Damir Durmo; junior Marc Luettecke; and sophomores: Manuel Gandara and Robert Lovaglio.
Lovaglio, a 6-5 forward, was third on the team in points last season averaging 10.5 per game, and is the only player to return to the roster with a double double. Furthermore, Cates and Joseph have a combined 175 collegiate games of experience under their belt to provide veteran leadership to the newcomers.
Giorlando’s squad faces a solid first test in NCAA D-1 opponent Southern Mississippi. The Eagles finished 22-10 last year, flaunting an impressive home record of 13-2. Southern Miss will be seeking a new identity on the court this season, losing their top two scorers to graduation, Gary Flowers and R.L. Horton.
The tipoff for the exhibition bout is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST. Be sure to follow the Wolfpack on facebook and twitter for up to date results, news stories, and interviews.
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