Game 073:(6) Manhattan 76, (9) Loyola (Md.) 67 MAAC First Round Friday, March 4, 2005 HSBC Arena - Buffalo, NY
The Old Loyola Greyhounds - the 2003-04 ones - were the worst team in the entire nation, so getting a nine-seed in the MAAC tournament this year was an entire world of improvement. After going one for 28 during last year's campaign, the school brought in a new coach, new facilities, a new logo and uniforms, and a brand spanking new attitude. It paid immediate, if small, dividends: the 2004-05 version finished 6-22, with a 5-14 conference record.
Manhattan College is somewhat unaccustomed to the first round, a world that Loyola has known so well. They've won the last three conference championships, and are still adjusting to life after All-Everything Luis Flores. The Jaspers ended the regular season with a 14-13 record and a six-seed.
From the outset of this game, the Jaspers wanted to show the rest of the league that they didn't belong on First Round Friday, and that they desired to dole out some punishment and embarrassment. They scored the first 13 points of the game, and went into the break up 45-17. After a particularly ticky-tack foul, Manhattan coach Bobby Gonzalez berated the officials.
"Hey, what happened there?" he yelled. "C'mon, what happened?"
"Let it go, Bobby," the Greyhounds' loud and likeable new coach, big Jimmy Patsos, shot back. "You've got this one."
At halftime, Patsos held his team back in the HSBC Arena's locker room until there were just three minutes until the resumption of play. Whatever he said steeled and focused his team, and they lost their general deer-in-the-headlights pose. They fought the defending champions on every possession, and moved the game out of the "laugher" category and squarely into the "blowout" one. Even with 11 seconds to go, as the Jaspers attempted to dribble out the clock, Loyola swarmed the ballhandlers, trying to steal it away for one last layup.
That's the difference between The Old Greyhounds and The New Greyhounds: pride, pure and simple. When adversity comes calling, they don't pack it in, slump their shoulders, accept the loser's fate. Jimmy's Dogs have fight, and it will be this spirit that will send them hurtling into the MAAC's upper division in the next few years.
So this game, which ended with a 21-point margin, served as microcosm of the Loyola season. They were down, and then they were down big, but they came back a little bit. The difference between The New Greyhounds and The Next Greyhounds is that they'll have enough to pull even.