NCAA Basketball Tournament -  Loyola v Ohio State

Loyola (MD) point guard R.J. Williams makes season debut tonight

Leave a comment

With a record of 4-2 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, the defending tournament champion Loyola (MD) Greyhounds find themselves two games behind first-place Niagara (5-0) in the loss column entering their game tonight against Marist (7:30 p.m.).

One thing that’s been missing for Jimmy Patsos’ team thus far has been a “true” point guard, with combo Dylon Cormier handling many of the duties and forward Anthony Winbush leading the team in assists with an average of 2.5 per game.

But that will change this week as sophomore point guard R.J. Williams, who was suspended for the first 18 games of the season due to a violation of team rules, makes his debut against the Red Foxes. Williams did practice with the team while being suspended.

“R.J. Williams has never left our program, he’s been great. He will come off the bench because we have our starting lineup,” said Patsos during the MAAC’s midseason conference call last week.

Williams started 29 of the Greyhounds’ 33 games last season, and while the averages of 4.0 points and 2.6 assists per game won’t turn heads his impact should not be ignored. With Williams on the floor Cormier will be able to operate off the ball more than he has to this point in the season, which in turn makes Loyola a tougher team for opponents to defend.

In their last two games, an overtime win over Fairfield and a loss at Rider, Loyola averaged just 8.5 assists while racking up an average of 14.0 turnovers. On the season the Greyhounds are averaging 10.7 assists and 12.7 turnovers per game, and their assist-to-turnover ratio (0.8) ranks sixth in the MAAC.

Niagara and Iona (4-1), the two teams ahead of Loyola in the MAAC standings, currently sit at the top of the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio while 4-2 Rider ranks dead last. If the Greyhounds are to have a shot at returning to the NCAA tournament they need to take better care of the basketball.

With the return of Williams to the rotation Loyola fans hope that he’ll be the catalyst in those efforts.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
1 Comment

Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Leave a comment

Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: