Justin Drummond’s decision to leave Loyola closes the gap in the MAAC

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After winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s automatic NCAA tournament bid this season, Loyola (MD) had the look of a team that could repeat in 2012-13.

While Justin Drummond’s decision to transfer shouldn’t mean that the Greyhounds are no longer the early favorite to win the conference, it does shrink the gap at the top of the MAAC.

A 6-4 guard from Bowie, Maryland, Drummond played well enough to be named both Third Team All-MAAC and MAAC Sixth Player of the Year.

Drummond averaged 10.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, ranking fourth on the team in scoring and third in rebounding.

The good news for Loyola is that their top three scorers are all due back next season, and that triumvirate of Erik Etherly, Dylon Cormier and Robert Olson will make them a tough out.

But Drummond was the “trump card” that other MAAC contenders would have a tough time matching when it comes to bench scorers.

With his departure Manhattan, who returns four of their top five scorers from last season, inches a little bit closer to the Greyhounds and the same can be said for Fairfield, Iona and Siena.

Loyola may very well win the MAAC in spite of Drummond’s decision, and given the job that head coach Jimmy Patsos and his staff did this season that’s more than possible.

But Drummond leaving opens the door for the rest of the conference a little bit more than originally expected.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.