The Loyola College basketball team will begin to discover tonight just how strong it is after a season-opening victory against George Washington.
Lionel Simmons, an All-American for La Salle last season, has moved to the National Basketball Association, but the Explorers still are the preseason Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference favorite.
The Greyhounds face a ton of trouble when they play at the Philadelphia Civic Center.
"They're not as good," said Loyola coach Tom Schneider. "But they're still awfully good."
This will be a particularly interesting test for Schneider's guards, Kevin Green and Tracy Bergan, who combined for 63 points against George Washington.
La Salle's strength is its backcourt, headed by senior point guard Doug Overton, the preseason pick as the MAAC Player of the Year, and junior Randy Woods, a defensive terror.
Coach Speedy Morris, whose team will be opening its regular season, has two other starters returning up front, Jack Hurd and Milko Lieverst, and still stands at the head of the class in the league despite the loss of Simmons' 26.5 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.
"We're not going to win 30 games [30-2 last season], but I think we can be OK," said Morris.
It is a fluky date for a conference opener that originally was scheduled for Dec. 29, but was moved because the arena is playing host to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show on that date.
Loyola has not beaten La Salle since the 1943-44 season, its only victory in 27 meetings. With Simmons scoring 36 and 34 points in the two games, the Explorers romped twice last season.