With the college basketball season starting Friday, The Catch and Shoot is taking a look at the best- and worst-case scenarios for Chicago’s team. As you may have guessed, this series of posts tries to evaluate each team’s highest peak as well as their lowest low.
Here is a look at Loyola’s best-case and worst-case scenario:
Milton Doyle successfully rehabs the torn labrum in his shooting shoulder and remains one of the MVC’s top players. Senior forward Christian Thomas averages a double-double and becomes an All-MVC First Team caliber player.
Junior guard Devon Turk continues to light up opponents from beyond the arc and breaks Loyola’s all-time 3-point shooting record as a junior. Junior guard Jeff White improves his ball control and has a top-five finish in the MVC in assists. Senior guard Joe Crisman becomes the spearheads a team identity of toughness that was lacking last season.
The Ramblers have their second straight MVC Freshman of the Year in Simeon product Donte Ingram, and the additions of junior college transfers Earl Peterson and Montel James give the Ramblers the third-best offense in the Valley behind Wichita State and Northern Iowa. Even with an average defense, Loyola avoids Thursday night’s play-in games at Arch Madness and even reach the league’s top five.
Chicago State, UIC and DePaul finish dead last in their respective leads, and Northwestern finishes ahead of only Rutgers in the Big Ten.
By simply being a competitive mid-major, Loyola has become Chicago’s top college basketball team and reels in more local talent to become a true MVC contender in future years.
Doyle needs surgery to repair his torn labrum and misses the entire season. Without the threat of Doyle, opponents are able to lock down Turk on the perimeter and put the majority of their focus on Thomas down low. With all that attention, the undersized Thomas struggles to be efficient.
The freshmen need a year to develop before they are ready to contribute, and Peterson and James struggle adjusting to the Division I game.
The Ramblers once again fail to win away from home, keeping them without a road win since Jan. 23, 2013. They steal a few home wins but finish no better than 3-15 in the conference.
After four years at Loyola, coach Porter Moser’s winning percentage is still below 35% and the athletics department is forced to consider making a change.
Meanwhile, UIC has a miracle run in the Horizon League tournament and Northwestern finally breaks through to the NCAA Tournament. Billy Garrett and Tommy Hamilton IV lead DePaul to the NIT, and Loyola is left as one of Chicago’s bottom-dwellers.