Anderson's adjustment is complete Confidence helped Loyola junior forward

December 26, 1990|By Jerry Bembry

As a senior at Loyola High School, Kevin Anderson scored 21 points a game on his way to being named first-team All-Metro. But he had a difficult time adjusting to basketball at Loyola College.

"Confidence plays a large part. Last year, I was a sophomore, and, as a freshman, I didn't play much," Anderson said. "I wasn't too sure of myself."

In the 1990-91 season, though, the junior forward seems in touch with his game. After scoring 8.3 a game last season, Anderson, 6 feet 4, is averaging 12.6, and his jump shot is one reason the Greyhounds (5-4) are off to their best start in four seasons.

A starter in every game this season, Anderson is averaging more than 33 minutes and has made a team-high 15 three-pointers in 38 attempts. His improvement has taken some pressure off guards Kevin Green and Tracy Bergan, the primary scorers.

"This year, I knew what I could do and that I could play with the teams that we go up against," Anderson said. "It was just a matter of time before things started to click and I became more comfortable."

Loyola coach Tom Schneider said Anderson might have been uncomfortable playing at Reitz Arena.

"Kevin seemed to play better on the road than at home, and maybe it was because this is his hometown and he put too much pressure on himself," Schneider said after Anderson put together 49 points in back-to-back games at the Longhorn Classic in Texas this month. "So far this year, he's been playing well for us."

Anderson laughs off the suggestion that he faces too much pressure playing at Loyola.

"[Schneider] mentioned that to me, but I don't think so," Anderson said. "He thinks that, since my whole family comes to each game, it puts a lot of pressure on me. I just think the times I've played well on the road were because the feeling was just right. Actually, I feel more comfortable at home."

Anderson's biggest college basketball thrill came at the Longhorn Classic. Playing against Southwest Conference power Texas the opening night, Anderson scored 20 in a losing cause. The next night, he scored 19 in a win over Sam Houston State, earning a spot on the all-tournament team.

"I still want to see us make it to the NCAAs within my remaining two years, but being named all-tournament there was a tremendous honor," Anderson said. "I never expected anything like that. We went down there, and I took the attitude just to play. And only the best can happen when you play your hardest."

If the Greyhounds, 4-24 last season and picked to finish next to last in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference this season,

somehow make it to the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, it would mark the second NCAA tournament trip for Anderson. He did it this spring as a midfielder on the Loyola lacrosse team that lost to Syracuse University in the national championship game.

"It was a great experience," said Anderson, who also was an All-Metro lacrosse selection in high school. "I never played before 20,000 fans, and it was an honor playing a great team."

The ability to play both Division I sports in college is what attracted Anderson to Loyola. Johns Hopkins had offered him a scholarship to play lacrosse and Division III basketball.

"I didn't want to go to a Division III school and always wonder if I could play the other sport at a Division I level," said Anderson, who majors in accounting. "I really didn't get recruited heavily for basketball, and Loyola is the only school to offer me a scholarship. It was the best opportunity for me."

Anderson trades his basketball shoes for a lacrosse stick immediately after the basketball season.

"At times, it gets rough, because with school if you get behind you have to always play catch-up," Anderson said. "And, conditioning-wise, the sports are different. But I enjoy it, and wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it."

Which sport does he enjoy best?

"Whatever sport is in season is usually the one I like the most at the time," he said, laughing. "As soon as basketball is over, I'm ready to play lacrosse. But when I'm playing basketball, lacrosse is not in my life at all."

Loyola is 2-0 at home this season, and Anderson is eager for more games at Reitz so the Greyhounds can give the home fans a look at the rejuvenated team.

"Once you continually lose, it's a snowball effect, and you keep losing," Anderson said. "We didn't know how to win last year. There weren't too many losses where we were completely blown out. But when it came down the stretch, we didn't know what it took to win the game.

"Now, we have confidence, and we feel we can compete with any team in the conference. We're picked second from the bottom of the league, but I don't think we'll be close to ending up there. We're going to surprise a lot of people."

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