I’ll be the first to admit I’m probably the least well-versed on Loyola basketball of any of the sports editors. I know my stuff when it comes to the women’s team, but I’ve always been a little less sure of my knowledge of men’s basketball.
For the last two years, I’ve been a piccolo player in the Band of Wolves. This, however, has come to a screeching halt with the pandemic shutting down most group events and Loyola Athletics putting us on hold for the time being.
During my time in pep band, I spent all my men’s basketball games cheering and screaming from the stands, focused much more on my sheet music than the plays. I also went abroad to Rome this past spring, missing out completely on both teams’ shortened seasons.
So, despite the strange and definitely undesirable circumstances we’re living in now, I will say I’m looking forward to the possibility of a basketball season where I can be totally involved from the Phoenix perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely miss the band and playing my instrument already. But this new horizon excites me, as well.
That is, if we get there.
With COVID-19 cases spiking to new — and terrifying — heights across the country and the Ivy League’s recent cancelation of its basketball season, I do wonder what the fate of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) season will be. Non-conference play is scheduled to begin Nov. 25 for both men’s and women’s teams, with conference play kicking off for both at the end of December.
When it comes to conference play, there’s still enough time for things to change for better, or for worse. Considering Loyola is also in Chicago, the third-largest city in the U.S. and a city now under a stay-at-home advisory for 30 days, I will say I’m starting to lose some of the feelings of certainty I had in this season. Especially with the latest reports of COVID-19 cases on the Loyola men’s basketball team.
But, as of right now, the MVC and Loyola haven’t released anything saying the season will be canceled for good. I’ll hang onto that hope as long as I have it.
With that in mind, if my coveted season does go as planned, I’m excited to get a better handle on the in’s and out’s of MVC and Loyola men’s basketball. Even if I continue to cover women’s basketball — as I have greatly enjoyed doing for the last two years — it will be fun to get to watch the men’s team from an analytical perspective for once. Even if it does end up being from my laptop in my apartment.
I know my players and positions pretty well, but there are admittedly times when I can’t follow the conversation as well for Loyola or the Valley. I’m looking forward to changing that. I’d like to not have to wait until my senior year to have a complete grip on Loyola’s most popular team.
Regardless of the continued uncertainty, I’m still letting myself be excited about what’s to come with the upcoming season. Will I miss playing the fan and screaming over my music stand every few minutes? Yes. But will I finally have the chance to up my men’s basketball knowledge and redeem myself after the number of dumb questions I’ve asked in the past? Also, yes.