Stoffey set to burst Loyola mark

February 11, 1994|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Sun Staff Writer

By her own admission, Patty Stoffey is insufferable on the team bus after Loyola women's basketball games.

It's not that Stoffey sings too loud or plays her Walkman at an intolerable volume or even that she fails to shower after games.

It's her chewing gum, or more to the point, that Stoffey smacks it at a pretty fast clip and at a high decibel level.

"It gets pretty bad," said Stoffey. "After a game, I just tune things out and start smacking my gum and I don't know anybody else is around. Coach [Pat Coyle] tells me, 'We're going to take that gum away from you if you don't stop.' "

Thankfully for the Greyhounds, smacking her gum too loud is about the only vice Stoffey has. Virtually everything she does on the court is magic.

Stoffey, a junior from Pottsville, Pa., smiles a lot while while she's playing, and for good reason, for she is having a spectacular season.

She is averaging 25.5 points a game, second best in the nation, and has scored 30 points or more five times this season, including a career-high 39 in a game at Fairfield two weeks ago. Stoffey has scored at least 20 points in all but of three of the Greyhounds' 19 games this season.

In addition, she has scored 64 points in the past two games and is shooting 78 percent from the free-throw line on the season.

"I couldn't have dreamed that something like this would happen to me," said Stoffey. "It's been incredible."

Stoffey is making an assault on the Loyola women's record books. She is the Greyhounds' second all-time leading scorer, trailing Lorrie Schenning's 1,565 points by just 67, a mark that should fall next Saturday at Canisius.

From there, at her current pace, Stoffey has a good chance to make more history. Barring injury, she should pass Maryland's All-American and Olympian Vicky Bullett (1,928) as the all-time leading scorer in Division I women's basketball, and with another season like this one, Stoffey could capture the Loyola scoring record of 2,199, held by Jim Lacy, who played for the Greyhounds from 1945 to 1949.

"I've seen a lot of good players in my time and she's right up there with any of them. She's incredible and she's so much fun to watch," said Coyle.

Stoffey's achievements are more impressive when one considers that Loyola was the only Division I school to seriously recruit her, in large part because she is an anomaly -- a 5-foot-10 post-up player in a sport that requires its post players to be 6 feet or taller.

But, as Coyle, who took over the Loyola program last season, tells it, Stoffey has made refinements in her game to compensate for her height.

"She was a back-to-the-basket player when I got here, and she's done a good job taking the ball to the basket," said Coyle. "Now that she's doing that, she's that much harder to stop, and she has a jumper out to 15 feet."

Stoffey, who also leads Loyola in rebounds (10.2 per game), steals and blocks, has understandably become the focus of attention for opposing defenses, drawing the predictable double- and triple-teams.

She asked her teammates at one point this year to feel free to share the scoring load, and the Greyhounds, who started the season with six straight losses, have responded, winning nine of 13 games.

Stoffey's numbers should make her a candidate for the 10-player Kodak All-America team, but the fact that she plays in the lower-profile Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for a .500 team may make it a difficult prospect.

"I don't worry about it [All-America recognition]," said Stoffey. "It might have happened if I had gone to a bigger school, but they didn't recruit me. Besides, I love it here and I'm glad I came to Loyola."

Stoffey, who is an elementary education major, plans to teach, but also wants to coach or play overseas after she graduates.

"She understands the game," said Coyle. "She has a patience, which you need as a coach. Good coaches are good teachers and she certainly is a good teacher."

Wonder if gum chewing will be permitted in Stoffey's class?

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