Here's another in the "Team Report" series ...
2012-13 RESULTS: 7-11 in MAAC play (8th), 12-19 overall. Lost to Manhattan, 50-49, in the play-in round of the MAAC tournament.
2012-13 RECAP: Some quality wins, including a nice one over second-place Iona at midseason, just not enough of them. The Greyhounds had one of the league's top players in senior guard Katie Sheahin, and not much else. Sheahin averaged 14.4 points per game, and the next closest scorer was senior forward Alyssa Sutherland, at 7.9 ppg., the lowest per-game average by any MAAC team's No. 2 scorer. Loyola had trouble scoring points (eighth of the 10 MAAC teams) and rebounding (8th), statistics that would lend itself to the team's 8th-place finish.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Some nice early non-league results, including mastery of regional mid-major programs with victories over UMBC, Towson and American. But, success was harder to come by in the MAAC. There was a nice late-January/early February stretch that included consecutive victories over Iona, Niagara and Siena, all teams that finished higher in the final standings. But, Loyola went 3-6 after that. Sheahin had to do more than ever for the Greyhounds and finished her career as one of the school's all-time great women's players, and arguably the most-versatile standout the MAAC has ever seen. She led Loyola in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals for the past two years, the only conference player to lead in those four major statistical categories over that time. Tiffany Padgett, a 6-foot-1 forward, had a nice freshman year (4.1 points, 4.5 rebounds), and Sutherland was solid (7.9, 5.0).
WHAT WENT WRONG: Start with Sheahin, who had nowhere near the senior season everyone expected ... and, it's hard to find a lot of fault with a player who leads her team in the four major statistical categories. Still, she was picked in preseason to be the MAAC's Player of the Year, and wound up as a second-team selection. Her play, for a portion of the season, was hindered by a mid-season stretch of severe flu-like symptoms that caused her to miss two games and play several others at less than 100 percent. Even when healthy, though, she faced defenses stacked to stop her, which limited her contributions. Teams were able to load up defenses against her because she didn't have a lot of help on the offensive end. When the team's second-leading scorer only averages 7.9 ppg., well defenses don't have to worry as much about the rest of the offense. Sophomore guard Kara Marshall looked like she might have been a strong second option, after averaging 11.0 ppg. in her first year, but her average dropped to 7.5 this past season. Loyola was also easier to guard because it was so perimeter oriented. Even Sutherland, the team's tallest starter, did her best work on outside the paint.
WHAT'S AHEAD: The program moves to the Patriot League for its future, and goes there with significant personnel losses. Sheahin and Sutherland graduate and are significant losses. Loyola definitely needs some quick development from Padgett, who showed signs of having the capabilities of becoming a very nice inside player. Marshall and another sophomore, Nicole Krusen (who averaged 6.0 ppg. this past season) both need to step up. Nneka Offodile, who will be a senior next season, has also made strides over her career and could be another nice inside piece a year from now.
PREDICTION: The Patriot League traditionally isn't quite as competitive as the MAAC, and Loyola did finish 3-1 against Patriot teams in non-league games this past season. Still, replacing Sheahin is a big task and the team will have to replace her contributions by committee, so to speak. But, there is some good young talent returning and head coach Joe Logan has always found a way to get more from his teams than the talent level would dictate. There isn't much doubt that the Greyhounds will be at least competitive in their first year in their new league.