Losing an exhibition game Saturday to a good Division II Lewis team will be troublesome for Loyola only if the Ramblers don’t learn from the tune-up.
“There’s a reason I wanted to schedule Lewis because they’re a veteran team and we’re not,” coach Porter Moser said after the 82-70 loss at the Gentile Arena. “They execute extremely well and I wanted to play a team like that in exhibition because of our youth.”
Lewis, with returns all but one player from last season’s 19 win year, is making the rounds against DePaul, Loyola and next Northwestern. Each is seeking the same challenge from Lewis that Moser did, but learning from the experience becomes the next challenge for the Ramblers as they prepare for Friday’s season opener against former Horizon League partner Milwaukee.
With no seniors, Moser is relying on juniors Joe Crisman and Christian Thomas to lead the squad in its first season in the Missouri Valley Conference. Each scored in double figures against Lewis, with Crisman recording a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds and Thomas with 14 points and five rebounds.
But the Flyers had 20-point plus games from juniors Julian Lewis of Homewood-Flossmoor and Ryan Jackson from Bolingbrook. The Ramblers committed 14 turnovers leading to 21 points for the Flyers, who took the lead in the second half.
Moser played four of his sophomores and two newcomers in freshman guard Jordan Pickett and sophomore transfer Cody Johnson.
“We need to find out a lot about ourselves,” Moser said. “I thought Joe played hard, but we’re an inexperienced team right now. We have to understand you have to execute on every play. That’s why we needed to play an experienced team.
“Lewis did a great job and they executed and made shots. You don’t like to lose, but for a young team, it’s a teaching moment about staying the course.”
There will be teaching moments for every team this season because of new and tighter rules limiting contact–and leading to more fouls being called. The Flyers had 26 fouls called against them and Loyola had 16. It meant 50 free throw attempts–and the experienced Flyers made the most of it going 17-20 at the line. The Ramblers had ten more attempts but only mad 19.
Moser knows the rules changes mean free throw shooting is going to be a premium.
“We spend a lot of time on it, too, and we’ve been trying to adjust to this,” he said. “Our goal is to get to the foul line. We did, but we only made two more than they did.”
The Ramblers shot 24-51 over all (47 percent) to the Flyers’ 28-47 (59.6 percent). The Flyers also hit nine of 14 three-point attempts to only 3-10 for the Ramblers.
With the new foul rules in play, look for teams to go to zone defenses more often–heightening the value of three-point shooting. For the Ramblers, sophomore Devon Turk is the key player there–but he was only 1-for-4 on three’s Saturday in 15 minutes of play.