Injury-depleted Loyola is getting record healthy

On Colleges

February 02, 1997|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Since injuries and other assorted misfortunes led to a 2-10 start, Loyola College men's basketball coach Brian Ellerbe has seen some encouraging signs from his team, including five victories in the past six games. One reason, and perhaps the most important: The Greyhounds have been able to practice together on a regular basis.

"We've had seven or eight guys who have constantly been there," Ellerbe said last week. "We haven't been influxing somebody who's been hurt on and off as much over the last 10 days."

As this week began, six Loyola players had missed a combined 198 practices and 35 games, and that didn't include sophomore center Lamar Butler, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during the first drill at Midnight Madness and was lost for the season.

Redshirt freshman forward Blanchard Hurd (Milford Mill) had sat out 54 practices and 19 games because of recurring knee problems and could be done for the season.

Nsilo Abraham, the 250-pound forward who was last season's Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year, was dismissed from school in late August for academic reasons -- he was eligible by NCAA standards, not Loyola's -- and transferred to George Mason. Then 6-foot-10 sophomore center Duane Johnson transferred to Hofstra in late December, leaving the Greyhounds with one legitimate post player, 6-10 sophomore Roderick Platt.

Platt had started all 31 of his collegiate games until Jan. 22 against North Carolina-Greensboro, when Ellerbe brought him off the bench in a 69-64 win. The Greyhounds' tallest starter was 6-6 freshman Erik Cooper, who moved inside and joined 6-3 freshman Darren Kelly and 6-5 senior Anthony Smith in the frontcourt.

"One of the things that hasn't been said or written is, these guys are warriors," Ellerbe said. "These guys are playing so many minutes against matchups they have no business playing against. We basically started five guards and were playing with seven guards and a big guy. But nobody's talking about their heart, their charisma, their energy and their fight. They keep coming back over and over."

Ellerbe, who gave his team the day off last Thursday, smiled when hearing Cooper tell reporters he was tired. "In the recruiting, these guys will tell you in their homes they want to play the whole game," Ellerbe said. "Then, they get the chance to do that and they tell you they're tired."

Hurd's long road back

Hurd, who hasn't played since a Dec. 21 loss at Notre Dame, is rehabilitating his right knee with Joe Artuso, Loyola's trainer. 00 They meet six days a week for about 2 1/2 hours each session.

"Initially, it was a torn meniscus, but the second condition, which isn't related, is a degenerative process of the articular cartilage," Artuso said. "It's pretty common. The cartilage that lines the knee bones and joints starts wearing down. It doesn't go away. Surgery doesn't correct it. We're trying to keep the patella in alignment and keep the quadriceps and hamstring strong. We've set a goal for March 1 to do another re-evaluation."

That's the first day of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament in Buffalo, N.Y.

Hurd, who's averaging 6.7 points and 6.3 rebounds, has appeared in 12 games and made five starts in two seasons. He played in six games this season, starting twice.

Injuries hurt UMBC women

UMBC women's basketball coach Kathy Solano had eight players available last week because of injuries. Freshman guard Erin Davies, freshman forward Allyson Sieka and sophomore guard Nicole Johnson were out with stress fractures. They should return later this month.

At least Solano can count on 6-foot sophomore center Monica Logan, who ranks first in the Big South Conference in rebounding and blocked shots. She has 12 double doubles for the 3-15 Retrievers, and has reached double figures in rebounding in 16 games.

Notre Dame's record-setter

Suzan Cheek, a junior at the College of Notre Dame, has broken six school and four CND pool records, leading the Gators to their best start at 9-1. She set pool records in the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes and 160 medley relay in Wednesday's victory over St. Mary's.

Cheek didn't participate in the Gators' only loss this season, 105-100, to Salisbury State.

CND's pool is 20 yards, instead of the standard 25, which is why the Gators keep two sets of records.

Washington's pool shark

Washington College freshman Cineva Kline has set school records in the 100-meter backstroke (1: 00.95), 200 backstroke (2: 14.36) and 100 butterfly (1: 02.8), and joined Meredith Bathgate, Krista Northup and Danielle Sullivan to break the mark in the 400 medley relay (4: 10.2). Bathgate set a record in the 200 breaststroke (2: 36.20).

On the men's side, All-American Angel Prado swam the 200 butterfly for the first time in his college career and established a school record (1: 59.30).

Hurting 'Hounds

Injuries and a transfer have depleted Loyola's roster this season:

Sept. 20: Junior G Mike Powell evaluated with shin splints. No dry-land training until Oct. 15.

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