Loyola hopes chemistry continues in second-round WNIT game

Greyhounds have blurred line between seniors and freshmen to bond together

March 19, 2011|By Ken Murray, The Baltimore Sun

There are no lines of distinction on the Loyola women's basketball team — not between senior and freshman, nor between starter and substitute.

On coach Joe Logan's sixth Loyola team, the lines of seniority and privilege blur in sweet harmony.

That's a telling reason why the Greyhounds have won 21 games — matching the school record — and notched the first postseason victory in Loyola history. It's also the reason Loyola (21-12) gets a second-round game in the Women's National Invitation Tournament in Reitz Arena at 4 p.m. Sunday against Virginia (17-15).

"I think we have really good leadership in our seniors and our captains, Meredith Tolley and Erica Di Clemente," Logan said. "They've got a really good pulse of the team. The days of 'I'm the senior, you're the freshman, you get the water, you carry the bags,' I think those days are over. And the seniors really do a good job of bringing the freshmen along.

"That's a big reason for our success, our chemistry."

When sophomore Katie Sheahin hit the three-point shot that beat Old Dominion in a first-round WNIT game, DiClemente, a graduate student, couldn't have been happier.

"Being a fifth-year senior, I can't thank her enough," DiClemente said. "I was ecstatic."

"I joke around with the freshmen all the time. I say, 'Back in my day, we had freshman duties' and I tell them how easy they have it these days. I don't really think we have a [division]. We're all one team and we've gotten where we are because of our bonding."

Sheahin, a 5-foot-10 guard, was defensive player of the year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with 3.59 steals per game. She is averaging 12.8 points — second on the team behind Miriam McKenzie's 14 points — and has distributed 133 assists with 37 blocks.

McKenzie sat out the second half at Old Dominion with an injury. Her availability against Virginia is uncertain.

That's not the only concern for Logan. Loyola's depth and Virginia's team speed are issues as well. When the Cavaliers beat Morgan State on Thursday, their leading scorers both came off the bench.

"The fact we're at home and we're able to play at Reitz Arena in front of a great Baltimore crowd and bring a game like that to Baltimore is a tremendous accomplishment for these kids," Logan said. "It's going to be a challenge. [The Cavaliers] are fast, they're bigger inside and they can shoot the three. They're very athletic, like ODU, and their speed is a concern as far as dictating tempo."

What helped prepare Loyola for these games was a nonconference schedule that included Maryland, Pitt and West Virginia.

"Virginia will have a strong team," DiClemente said. "But I'm ready for them and I think the team will be, too."

ken.murray@baltsun.com

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