Another installment in a series looking at the chances of teams in the upcoming men's MAAC tournament.
Up now, Loyola.
No. 8 LOYOLA (6-12 in MAAC play, 13-16 overall)
SEASON ANALYSIS: The top scorer in the MAAC last season, guard Jamal Barney, missed several games at midseason due to personal issues. The next best player, guard Brett Harvey, missed several midseason games with a shoulder injury and played most of the second half at less than 100 percent. All things considered, maybe 13-16 overall wasn't that bad a final result.
Along the way, Barney returned, Harvey is getting close to 100 percent, 6-10 sophomore center Shane Walker has shown improvement and 6-8 freshman Robert Olson was good enough to make the MAAC's all-rookie team.
Also, the Greyhounds had an 8-5 start including an impressive victory at Indiana before losing Harvey and Barney. After that it was 5-11 in its last 16 games.
HOW LOYOLA CAN WIN THE MAAC TOURNAMENT: Head coach Jimmy Patsos calls the MAAC a "scoring league," and knows it will take a lot of points to win this event. Whether his team can score a lot in the tournament remains to be seen, but it appears a lot more capable of doing that now than it was a month ago.
Both Barney and Harvey are back. Barney has been particularly effective in a 6th-man role late in the season. He had 24 points and nine rebounds and 20 points and eight rebounds in Loyola's two games this past weekend. For Loyola to do any damage here, those two would both have to have terrific games, Olson would need to contribute something offensively and Walker would need to be a defensive presence.
WHY LOYOLA WON'T WIN THE MAAC TOURNAMENT: Two players, even ones as talented as Barney and Harvey, aren't enough to carry a team through four games, the scenario the Greyhounds face trying to come out of the play-in round. The team really doesn't have another capable scorer. Walker remains inexperienced and Oloson is a freshman. Also, a key player, 6-7 sophomore Anthony Winbush who was emerging as the team's third offensive option, suffered a mid-season injury and won't play again until next season.
PREDICTION: Loyola has enough to get past No. 9 Manhattan in the play-in round game, but then faces the unenviable task of meeting Siena in the quarterfinals. Loyola, without both Barney and Harvey, played Siena close (losing 67-61) in its one appearance here, but aren't likely to duplicate that in this setting.
WHAT'S NEXT: The only key departure will be Harvey. The young guys ... Walker and Olson, particularly ... come back with a year's experience. Winbush will be back. And, Patsos always seems to find players. At worst, Loyola will get back to the middle of the pack next season.