Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Loyola Ramblers' Basketball

It's been a long time since I updated this blog, but what the heck? Far as I can tell no one is reading it anyway.

There's plenty of Chicago sports news to write about, but the thing that I was thinking about today was how bad Loyola basketball has been for a number of years. Oh, there were a few years here and there where they were respectable in their division, but I don't think they've been to the NCAA tourney since the 1980's. They are in the Horizon League, which you would think would be a winnable league once in a while. Sure, there's Butler, which has been to the final four twice (I think) but the other teams range from up and down to usually consistent and respectable to more bad than good.

The last category (more bad than good) fits the Ramblers. I haven't really followed their recruiting or anything in a long time, but the last time I recall them being in the tourney they had guys like Alfredrick Hughes, Carl Golston, Andre Battle, Andre Moore, and Greg Williams among others. Tim Nolan and Gerry Mundt were on that team, as was Dan Burich (if I recall correctly).

Hughes was an anomoly - a star whose rise was unpredictable. Golston and Moore were transfers from bigger programs, and the others were solid role players. You can't go out recruiting looking for the next Hughes. You have to do it bit by bit.

If I were running Loyola's recruiting, I'd be looking for fundamentally sound players from smaller programs. I'd also be looking at the lesser lights on the big time high school programs. I'd build with strong shooters. Guys who seem to have a knack for rebounding and positioning. Guys who can shoot free throws. Ball handlers who aren't flashy but don't turn it over.

You get five or six guys like that and you're going to start winning games. Because now, from what I've seen when I have paid attention, they tend to beat themselves a lot with bad choices. Basketball skills aside, they need to find high basketball-IQ guys first.

The Alfredrick Hughes will come eventually, and will probably be as much of a surprise as Hughes himself was back in the 1980's.


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