Before last night's game against Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference power La Salle, Loyola's Kevin Green was honored for going over the 1,000-point mark for his career in the season opener two months ago.
Before halftime, he and two other starters had been benched as La Salle rolled up a 27-point lead.
Before the game was over, Green had redeemed himself, eventually finishing with 23 points in the Greyhounds' deceptively close 94-84 loss before 2,219 at Reitz Arena.
But those developments were insignificant to Green last night. His pregame preparation included monitoring the war in the Middle East, where his brother Russell is serving.
"He came home for a visit over the holiday," Green said. "He had been stationed in Germany, but when he left us he was supposed to be going to Saudi Arabia. I haven't heard from him since."
Russell Green, 24, played football and lacrosse at Edmondson High. Now a cook in the U.S. Army, he has been in the military for five years.
"I'm glad school's back in session, because that's given me something else to think about, but it still seems like I've been watching TV all day," said Kevin Green, a junior who didn't blossom into a potent scorer until he left Dunbar High. "I try to put it out of my mind, but it's a distraction."
Against La Salle, Green and the other Loyola starters were caught off guard in the first half. The Explorers trailed 12-9, but then reeled off runs of 16-1 and 17-0. They eventually built three leads of 27 points, the last at 50-23 with 4:27 left in the half.
Green and two other starters were benched midway through the blitz. He averages more than 34 minutes a game, but sat out the last eight minutes of the half.
"Our heads weren't in the game," Loyola coach Tom Schneider said. "We were giving them easy baskets in transition and off the offensive board. Maybe we're intimidated by the La Salle on their jerseys. We're confident against some teams, but against others we're hesitant."
La Salle is seeking its fourth straight MAAC title and NCAA tournament berth, but the Explorers no longer have Lionel Simmons, who keyed a 110-81 rout at Loyola last year. They're 3-1 in the MAAC and 9-3 overall, and coach Speedy Morris said "that 10-minute stretch in the middle of the first half was as well as we've played all year."
Loyola, which dropped to 6-9 overall and 0-5 in its first MAAC home game of the season, made La Salle uncomfortable in the second half on a comeback led by none other than Green. He scored 15 of his team-high 23 points after intermission.
"I was embarrassed, sitting down in the first half," Green said. "I felt the team needed me in there. I was mad at myself, and it was probably my defense that got me there."
His offense isn't a problem. Green has 1,304 career points, and his 22.1 average stands second in the MAAC to Doug Overton's 27.1. The La Salle senior was limited to 21 points and committed seven turnovers last night, but he also had five assists. Backcourt partner Randy Woods had a game-high 24.
For Loyola, sophomore point guard Tracy Bergan had eight of his 18 points in the last 50 seconds, and a game-high eight assists. Anderson, a junior out of Loyola High, had a trio of three-pointers in the second half and finished with 15.