Loyola comes out winner, even if not on scoreboard

March 22, 1994|By Bill Tanton

Ninety-six teams -- 48 men's, 48 women's -- already have been eliminated from the NCAA basketball tournament. None was dumped more unceremoniously than Loyola College's representatives.

Loyola's men went to California on a high last week, only to be hammered by Arizona, 81-55. Nobody was surprised to see that Loyola couldn't keep up with Arizona.

"That's a $5 million program at Arizona," Loyola athletic director Joe Boylan said yesterday in his office here. "Arizona's basketball budget is larger than the budget for our entire athletic program."

The Greyhounds women were similarly outclassed by Virginia, 72-47.

Does it pay for a bunch of athletes to be sent to some faraway site only to have their so-called bubble burst?

It pays, literally.

It pays in dollars, though not as many of them as some people believe. The huge paydays await the schools that make the Final Four.

"Your payoff depends on what kind of arrangement you have with your conference," Boylan said. "In our situation with the MAAC [Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference] we'll receive $50,000-plus for playing one tournament game."

At Loyola, that just about pays for three scholarships, since the cost of a year at Loyola is now at $18,000.

"We're going to take some of it and do some things for our coaches, the men's and the women's," Boylan said. "They've earned it. The money's not going to make us rich, but it'll help."

No, Loyola, after its first NCAA Division I tournament experiences, will be enriched in other ways.

"I didn't like the way it ended," said basketball coach Skip Prosser, who in his first year raised Loyola from the ignominy of a 2-25 season to a trip to the tournament, "but on balance it was a great experience for our kids. It helps us with name recognition, with recruiting."

"We only have one scholarship to give this year," said Boylan, who spent a lot of years coaching college basketball before becoming an administrator at Rutgers and now Loyola.

Loyola's men were made to look a little better Sunday when Arizona whipped Atlantic Coast Conference member Virginia, 71-58.

Last Friday, as Loyola's men showed on national TV that they're not in the same league with teams like Arizona, I wondered how the rout would be received at home.

The next day I saw the answer at the college's annual Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony. Six former Greyhounds athletes were inducted, including three basketball players: David Gately, '87; Jim Allenbaugh, '56; and Andy O'Donnell, '50. The other honorees were Ken Freimuth, '63, swimming; Andi Holthaus Whiteford, '87, lacrosse; and Stan Koziol, '87, soccer.

"This ceremony," said Loyola Hall of Fame president Mark Rohde, "is an appropriate end to a week that is unrivaled in Loyola College's history with both our basketball teams going to the NCAA Division I tournament for the first time."

Gately, who scored 1,706 points and led Loyola through four winning basketball seasons, made it clear how the week affected him, in spite of the basketball losses.

"All I heard all week at work at Legg Mason," said Gately, "was, 'Oh, you went to Loyola. That's great about your basketball.' The exposure and the publicity have been great for the school." How will today's Loyola basketball players feel 20 years from now about this year's NCAA experience? Will they feel embarrassed because of the one-sidedness of their losses?

I think I learned the answer from talking with Gene Gwiazdowski, who played for Nap Doherty's Loyola team in the NCAA Division II tournament two decades ago.

"What I remember about that," said Gwiazdowski, "is not so much the games as the overall experience.

"I remember the camaraderie with the guys. I remember traveling to Florida to play at Biscayne College. I remember Frank Cashen and Bill O'Donnell coming to our dressing room to wish us luck. I hope these kids today feel that way 20 years from now."

What about the rest of this tournament, which concludes on the night of April 4 -- the day the Orioles open their American League season here?

The way powerhouse teams such as UNC and Kentucky were eliminated over the weekend, who can figure how it will all wind up?

Is Arizona, with its great guards, Damon Stoudamire and Khalid Reeves, capable of going all the way? Its next opponent is Louisville.

"I don't know about going all the way," said Prosser. "I like Louisville. Louisville has a lot of talent."

What about Indiana? Are the Hoosiers primed to steal another title as they did in 1987?

"You've got to give the guy credit," Prosser said.

I wonder what guy he was talking about.

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