When he was asked about a potential starting lineup at the Chicagoland Tip-Off Luncheon Monday afternoon, Loyola men’s basketball coach Porter Moser answered with a quote from his late mentor Rick Majerus.
“‘Starting’s for high school,’” Moser said. “That’s a great Rick Majerus line … it’s really who ends the game. That’s the harder thing. I’m trying to find out ‘Who are my five in the last minute of the game?’”
The Ramblers return three starters from last year’s squad — redshirt senior guards Clayton Custer and Marques Townes and sophomore center Cameron Krutwig. Donte Ingram and Ben Richardson graduated after last year’s NCAA Tournament run, leaving two spots in this year’s lineup.
Sophomore guard Lucas Williamson — whom Richardson dubbed his metaphorical “son” last season — is one player looking to make a run at a starting spot. Williamson said now that Richardson’s gone, he’s working even harder to fill the role of a defensive presence.
“I just see it as an opportunity for me,” Williamson said. “[It’s] a challenge to go out and fill big shoes Ben left.”
Redshirt sophomore guard Aher Uguak was another player Moser discussed at the luncheon, which marks the unofficial start to college basketball season in Chicago. In September, Moser told The Phoenix Uguak was Loyola’s “best athlete.”
While previewing the season with emcee Jordan Bernfield, a play-by-play announcer for ESPN, Moser said he predicts Uguak will continue the Ramblers’ success with transfers.
“Last year, I sat here and was talking about Marques Townes,” Moser said. “Not a lot of people were, but I was … Aher’s that one, for us, who sat out [last season].”
Other players returning to the rotation include junior guard Bruno Skokna and sophomore forward Christian Negron. Loyola also brought on four first-years — center Franklin Agunanne, guards Cooper Kaifes and Isaiah Bujdoso and walk-on forward Will Alcock. As a walk-on, Alcock isn’t attending Loyola on a scholarship to play basketball.
Moser said the first-years, particularly Agunanne, are adjusting to college basketball well through the first week of practice. Agunanne, a 6-foot-9-inch, 245-pound center, was rated as a four-star recruit according to ESPN, and Moser said he’s making a presence through workouts.
“He’s got phenomenal hands — like, unbelievable hands,” Moser said. “He picks up stuff fast. Now, it’s overwhelming, because we’re a program of very much detail and it’s just overwhelming. But, man, I think he’s doing great picking it all up.”
Loyola is scheduled to open its season with an exhibition game at home against Winona State University Oct. 23 before opening the regular season Nov. 6 against University of Missouri-Kansas City at Gentile Arena.