The Loyola men’s basketball team was picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) preseason poll, the MVC announced Oct. 15. Last year’s regular season champions University of Northern Iowa were tabbed for first. Three Ramblers — senior center Cameron Krutwig, redshirt senior forward Tate Hall and sophomore guard Marquise Kennedy — were also tabbed for preseason honors.
After finishing second in the MVC regular season last year and getting upset in the quarterfinal round at Arch Madness, Loyola received 13 of 44 votes for first place. Northern Iowa received 30 votes and third place Bradley earned one lone vote.
Krutwig was named MVC Preseason First Team All-Conference for the second consecutive season. He averaged 15.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game during his junior season. Alongside Krutwig on the MVC Preseason First Team is Bradley University’s Elijah Childs, Indiana State University’s Tyreke Key, Northern Iowa’s Austin Phyfe and 2020 MVC Player of the Year AJ Green, who was voted to repeat the title.
Hall and Kennedy were selected to the MVC Preseason Third Team, along with Northern Iowa’s Trae Berhow, Illinois State University’s Keith Fisher III and Drake University’s Tremell Murphy.
Last season, Hall collected Third Team All-MVC and MVC All-Newcomer Team honors after transferring from Division II University of Indianapolis two seasons ago. He put up 12.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game during the 2019-20 season.
Kennedy was the lone Rambler to collect a “Player of the Year” award after earning MVC Sixth Man of the Year alongside MVC All-Freshman Team and MVC All-Bench team accolades. He averaged 9.2 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game in his first season at Loyola.
Loyola and Northern Iowa were the only two teams with three players named to MVC Preseason All-Conference teams.
Despite not being picked to win the conference, Loyola head coach Porter Moser said he had “zero reaction” to the Ramblers placement in the preseason poll.
“What motivates the team is that we don’t have a conference championship plaque from last year,” Moser said. “We don’t have a conference championship trophy from the tournament from last year.”
Loyola returns all five starters from last season. In addition, the team gained first-year guard Baylor Hebb and redshirt sophomore guard Braden Norris, who will play for the first time in maroon and gold this season. Redshirt sophomore Cooper Kaifes will also return after spending last season on the bench due to a torn labrum.
“If we got everybody back and we’re not better it [doesn’t] mean anything, cause everybody in this league is going to get better,” Moser said. “My hope is that we look stronger, faster, bigger, [and] that we look better. That’s the challenge that we had all year.”
While the non-conference schedule has yet to be announced, Loyola is set to open conference play against Drake in Gentile Arena Dec. 30.