As we clutch onto the final weeks of warm weather and brace ourselves for the harsh Chicago winter that is quickly approaching, peace of mind can be salvaged by the fact that college basketball is almost here. With the Sept. 8 announcement of the Loyola men’s and women’s basketball schedules, fans and foes alike can look forward to seeing how Loyola’s two Division I programs fare against the rest of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), and perhaps beyond.
At the helm of the men’s squad is fifth-year head coach Porter Moser, who looks to build upon the 2014-15 season, which ended with an impressive 24-13 overall record. He also hopes to improve within the MVC, which held an 8-10 in-conference record last season.
The season begins at home at Gentile Arena against Lewis University in an exhibition matchup, which will kick off a series of non-conference games featuring the University of New Mexico. The team will then open the GCI Great Alaska Shootout against the University of San Diego — the first matchup between the two since a Loyola 69-55 win back in ‘07.
The moment Loyola basketball fans eagerly wait for will arrive on campus Dec. 30. The 18-game conference schedule will open the curtains with a tip-off against conference rival Southern Illinois, who the Ramblers split with last season in two games. Highly anticipated face-offs include a two-game set against Bradley University, who the Ramblers outscored twice last year, and a trip to Wichita, Kansas, to take on ESPN’s No. 9 preseason-ranked Wichita State University.
With Arch Madness already in sight, the Ramblers will rely on top-scoring junior guard Milton Doyle, a Chicago native, as well as talented returning seniors guard Earl Peterson and forward Montel James. Senior Devon Turk, who holds the record for most three points in Loyola’s history, is also returning for his last season with the Ramblers.
For Loyola’s women’s basketball team, former WNBA star-turned-coach Sheryl Swoopes enters her third year as head coach.
Swoopes said the team looks to make changes and put behind the struggles of last season, as the team produced a disappointing 6-25 overall record while faltering in-conference with a 3-15 record.
“Although we did not have the kind of season we all hoped for last year, we are really looking forward to conference play and working hard to have a much better year,” Swoopes said in a press release with the Loyola Athletics Department.
Despite coming off a challenging 2014-15 campaign, Swoopes expressed her optimism for a fresh start and her athletes’ success. The team’s leader also discussed, with hope and uncertainty, the incoming rookies to this roster.
“With seven newcomers, including five freshmen, we will be put to the test early,” she said.
Six returners, including top-scorer and 2015 All-MVC newcomer Taylor Manuel, will guide these new faces.
The Ramblers will begin their fresh start against Georgia Tech University and will continue with 12 more matchups against non-conference opponents — including Red-Line rival DePaul — before embarking on what will surely be an entertaining conference play against the likes of Evansville, Wichita State and Southern Illinois.
With the women’s basketball team regular season-ender at Gentile Arena versus Bradley University, fans can hope for a better season and glory for both Loyola’s men’s and women’s basketball teams. With the warm confines of Gentile Arena to protect fans, winter can’t come soon enough.