Loyola doesn't suspend optimism with Reese out Schneider looking to fill many holes

November 25, 1992|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

Replacing Kevin Green, the No. 2 scorer in Loyola history, and savvy swingman Kevin Anderson was going to be enough of a challenge.

The Greyhounds had reason to be optimistic last March, however, even after losing in the first round of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament for the third straight year. A 14-14 record was the first time in five years Loyola had reached the .500 level, and there was enough talent returning to continue the improvement the Greyhounds had made under coach Tom Schneider.

Plans began to unravel three weeks after the end of last season.

On April 2, record-setting point guard Tracy Bergan, behind in his studies, withdrew from school.

On Oct. 31, the day before practice started, Michael Reese, the Greyhounds' second-leading scorer and top rebounder last season, was charged in an assault case.

On Nov. 20, Loyola announced that Reese and sophomore reserve guard/forward Chad Anderson, who withdrew after an unrelated violation of the school's conduct code, were suspended for the season.

Add Reese's absence to the other three veterans and Loyola will be without 73.3 percent of last season's points, 70.8 percent of its assists, and 47.7 percent of its rebounds.

Schneider knew seven months ago he wouldn't have Green, Anderson and Bergan this season. Reese, however, was the first player mentioned at Loyola in the off-season. A second-team preseason MAAC all-star, his scoring average of 16.1 points figured to rise with his move to shooting guard.

"You can't condone the type of behavior some of our players have been accused of," Schneider said. "I'm worried about him [Reese], but when it comes to coaching the team, I've got to look at it as if he [Reese] broke an ankle, and move on.

"We knew we were going to be a different team last April, and we've been planning along those lines. This is a good opportunity for others to prove that they can play."

Despite the unexpected losses, Schneider says that Loyola, which opens at Towson State Dec. 1, will rebound and play defense better, a high order considering that opponents shot 43.5 percent a year ago. The Greyhounds have a big, rugged front line and some untested potential on the perimeter.

The leading returning scorer is 6-6 sophomore forward B.J. Pendleton, who averaged 8.6 points on 48.0 percent shooting and 5.0 rebounds last season, when he made the MAAC all-rookie team.

Sophomore David Credle (6-7), junior Mark Sparzak (6-8) and senior George Sereikas (6-8) add to Loyola's presence in the paint, and the biggest recruit is 6-11 junior Dallas Shannon, a native of Nova Scotia who spent the last two seasons at Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist Junior College. Ricky Wohl, a 6-11 sophomore from Luxembourg, also will get a shot.

"The thing we have going for us is that we have size and depth inside," Schneider said. "When we get into our half-court offense, we'll be looking for better shot opportunities than the first open shot Kevin Green could get.

"Pendleton is so much further advanced than he was a year ago, and everyone else inside is more confident. Credle can score, Shannon can score, Sparzak has had a very good preseason. Sereikas has blocked more shots in school history than anyone."

That inside depth sent Reese to the shooting guard spot, but a freshman will get a chance there.

Matt Walker, 6-3, took Trinity Catholic to the finals of the Pennsylvania state tournament last year.

Mike Malone, the only other senior scholarship player besides Sereikas, averaged 12 minutes a game behind Bergan last year, and will play more at the point. Malone is the son of Detroit Pistons assistant Brendan Malone, and Schneider said "Mike knows the system as well as anyone."

Sophomore Matt Gabriel and freshman Teron Owens have shown skill at both guard positions. Gabriel suffered a stress fracture last season in the seventh game, one too many to receive an injury redshirt, while Owens was guiding Catonsville to the state 2A championship.

The Greyhounds begin with 11 scholarship players and three walk-ons, and 6-9 sophomore Virgil Wallace could gain his academic eligibility at the end of the first semester.

The veterans claim that intangibles could make the Greyhounds better than expected, but they realize it's a tenuous mix.

"I believe we can be really good this season," Sereikas said before Reese's suspension was finalized. "Or, if we don't work hard and fulfill our potential, we could be as bad as we were when I was a freshman [4-24 in 1989-90]."

Tomorrow: Coppin State and Mount St. Mary's

Loyola at a glance

Coach: Tom Schneider (fourth season, 30-54)

Affiliation: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

1991-92 record: 14-14, 10-6 in MAAC

Starters lost: Leading scorer Kevin Green, second-leading scorer and top rebounder Michael Reese and point guard Tracy Bergan. Guard-forward Kevin Anderson started nine games.

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