Loyola finds light in August, looks much improved for season

November 10, 1990|By Don Markus

Some college basketball teams come together in their gymnasiums during preseason practice, others in a tough road game in the dead of winter. Then there is Loyola College.

The Greyhounds, who equaled their worst Division I record by finishing 4-24 last season, started to show signs of improvement this year at the strangest time and in the most unusual place.

In August. In Scandinavia.

"It was a great morale-booster for us," junior guard Kevin Green said yesterday.

Loyola's two-week, 10-day trip to Denmark and Sweden last summer provided a scrapbook of memories for coach Tom Schneider and his players. But nearly as important was the kind of basketball that the Greyhounds played.

After winning only one of its last 14 games last season -- a #F stretch that coincided with freshman point guard Tracy Bergan being benched by the school for academic reasons -- Loyola won eight of 10 games this summer, including the last six.

"It was so beneficial for a lot of reasons," said Schneider, who had come over from Pennsylvania before last season. "We had some success,which helped. We're further along than we were at this time last year."

The return of Bergan, who regained his eligibility in the spring, will help. Green, who was a first-team all-conference selection after averaging 19.4 points, is expected to improve.

But the difference this season could be the blossoming of senior Mike Wagner. A 6-foot-11, 225-pound center from Beaver Falls, Pa., he showed signs last summer of living up to the expectations that came with his arrival four years ago.

"Mike's in the best shape he's been in since he came here," Schneider said yesterday, as he watched Wagner during practice.

Bergan, Green and Wagner are among the reasons that Schneider believes his team will make strides when their 1990-91 season begins Nov. 24 against George Washington. Early road games include Xavier and Texas.

But just how far the Greyhounds can go in reversing last year's record depends a great deal on how they fare in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, as well as on the road. Loyola was 2-14 in the MAAC, 0-14 away from Reitz Arena.

"I don't put much stock in numbers," said Schneider.

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