Here's another in the series previewing MAAC teams.
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2011-12 RECORD TO DATE: 4-6 overall.
2010-11 RECORD: 15-3 in MAAC play, 21-13 overall.
KEY RETURNEES (This season's stats): 5-10 senior forward Miriam McKenzie (14.4 points, 7.0 rebounds), 5-10 junior guard Katie Sheahin (14.2, 6.0, 3.4 assists, 3.6 steals), 6-0 sophomore guard Nicole Krusen (6.9, 1.9), 6-1 sophomore forward Nneka Offodile (6.5, 4.8), 6-1 junior forward Alyssa Sutherland (5.0, 5.3).
KEY LOSSES: Guard Erica DiClemente (11.7, 4.0), forward Meredith Tolley (7.6, 5.6).
COACHES' PRESEASON PREDICTION: 2nd in the MAAC.
NOTES: The Greyhounds didn't have much depth last year, and are woefully thin again this year, going mostly with a seven-member playing group, and that was before McKenzie was injured. She has missed the last three games and her return date is uncertain. The team also lost another key reserve in senior point guard Candice Walker (knee) after the first two games ... Sheahin, in this Hoopscribe's opinion, is the league's best player but she can't do it by herself. McKenzie's return to health will be a key ... Three youngsters have stepped up this year, Marshall, Krusen and Offodile. Krusen leads the conference in 3-point shooting percentage at .512 (21-of-41) and has hit five treys twice already, only the third Loyola player to ever hit five threes in a game twice .... Offfodile is a rugged inside player while Marshall, having some success as a freshman, is a tall guard who often handles the ball ... Coach Joe Logan currently has 100 career wins at Loyola, the most ever by a women's coach at the school ... Sheahin leads the conference in steals and ranks 20th nationally in that statistic. She led the country in steals a year ago. She has averaged 23 points per game in McKenzie's absence ... Tough non-league slate has included losses to Maryland and Pitt ...
HOW LOYOLA CAN SUCCEED: By getting McKenzie back quickly. She has the combination of athleticism and skill most teams at this level don't have in a player. The team definitely needs to stay healthy. It also needs a little more inside play (McKenzie and Sheahin, both 5-10, are the team's top two rebounders). Sheahin is the other key. Keeping her healthy and fresh is an absolute must.
PREDICTION: Looked like a potential contender to Marist's supremacy until McKenzie's injury. Without McKenzie, who is clearly one of the conference's top five players, Loyola drops off considerably both in terms of talent and depth, which was already lacking. If McKenzie returns to full strength soon Loyola will battle Marist and, likely finish no worst than third in the conference.