By the look of their 3-7 record and some of their scores – an 80-39 loss at Butler, and 70-37 loss at Syracuse just three days later – the first two months of the season have been hard on the Loyola Greyhounds.
“We’re 3-6, but we’re 3-2 against teams our level,” said Loyola Maryland head coach G.G. Smith leading up to the team’s game against Stony Brook, a 67-52 loss, earlier this week. “I like where we are.”
For Smith and his team, it is not so much about their record, but about trying to accomplish the goals they’ve set for themselves.
“Our three goals going into this year were: Lead the league in rebounding, defensive 3-point field goal percentage, and have a better assist-to-turnover ratio,” said Smith. “Right now we’re doing pretty good.”
The Greyhounds currently rank second in the league for defensive 3-point field goal percentage, holding opponents to just 29.5 percent from downtown. They currently rank third in the Patriot League in rebounds, averaging 35 per game, and rank first in offensive rebounding at 12.6 per game.
As for the assist/turnover ratio, Smith and his team have their work cut out for them as they are in dead last, averaging nearly two turnovers for every assist (0.5 assists-to-turnover ratio. Lafayette leads the league with a 1.3/1 ratio).
One of the brighter spots on this year’s Loyola Maryland team has been freshman Cam Gregory, a 6-foot-8 forward from nearby Waldorf, Maryland. Gregory was named Patriot League Rookie of the Week earlier this month and has been a consistent source of production for the Greyhounds, averaging 6.7 rebounds and 6.3 points per game while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor.
“As a freshman he just brings just so much skill, he’s able to go inside; he’s not the best shooter, not a great free throw shooter just yet,” said Smith of Gregory. “He’s blocking shots and getting rebounds. That’s kind of what we missed last year. We didn’t have a high motor guy that would go out and get four or five rebounds for us.”
Freshman guard Andre Walker has also showed promise for the Greyhounds, averaging 9.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
But while Gregory is a great piece in the paint, and Walker has shown flashes in the backcourt, on offense the Greyhounds remain a work in progress. Last season, Loyola could hang its hat on the production of then-senior Dylon Cormier, as the dynamic guard averaged 21.2 points per game. This year, the team’s leading scorer, Eric Laster averages just 11 points per game. Smith knows that his team is going to need contributions from everyone in order to be competitive.
“Our biggest concern is going to be how to score,” said Smith. “We don’t have the alpha dog that we had last year like Dylan Cormier to get you 25, 30 points.”
The Greyhounds, a young team with some talent, still feel the loss of Cormier.
According to Smith, once the Greyhounds are able to develop and mature, they could become the force in the Patriot League they hoped to be when they switched into the conference last season.