▪ Diminshed three-point shooting is in part responsible for dragging down Loyola’s season. The Ramblers control the pace and play good defense and are willing to take charges to make up for a lack of shot-blockers.
But that work too often goes to waste on the offensive end.
Three-point percentage 2014-15
Three-point percentage 2015-16
42 percent (29-69)
As a team, the Ramblers are shooting 34.5 percent from three-point range, down from 39.2 last season.
Never miss a local story.
With last season’s outside accuracy and Christian Thomas as a bit of a post-up threat, the Ramblers ranked sixth in the MVC in offensive efficiency, a number hurt by turnovers. This season, the Ramblers rank ninth in offensive efficency. They are still turning the ball over too much (almost 20 percent of their possessions end with a turnover) and shooting poorly inside and beyond the arc.
▪ A person can’t discuss Loyola’s three-season tenure in the MVC without discussing attendance.
It’s bad. The Ramblers average 1,726 in 4,963-seat Gentile Arena.
We are spoiled in Kansas and that gives us an unrealistic view of college basketball attendance.
Watch TV on any given night and you will see arenas with plenty of empty seats at schools in higher-profile conferences. MVC attendance, on the whole, is above average. Koch Arena, Allen Fieldhouse and Bramlage Coliseum packed in November and on weeknights is not the norm.
Last season, No. 94 Bradley (5,726), No. 98 Illinois State (5,483) and No. 100 Missouri State (5,300) ranked in the top 100 of NCAA attendance figures (WSU was No. 36). With 351 schools in NCAA Division I, the MVC is comfortably in the upper third in attendance.
We think attendance at most MVC arenas is horrible. In some cases, it is. In many, the arena is too big. Schools (or cities) build arenas for concerts, graduation, conventions and other events. Sometimes that means a bunch of empty seats ruin the look on TV and the atmosphere in the arena. Some places can’t fill a 10,000-seat arena and it’s more a reflection of population than it is a lack of affection for basketball.
Bradley - Carver Arena (11,164). Peoria’s downtown arena is suitable for the Braves, who were a big draw in better days. While losing 2,000 seats wouldn’t hurt, Bradley is near the bottom of the list for schools that should down-size.
The potential is there.
Drake - Knapp Center (7,152). A 5,000-seat arena would suit Drake. However, this place was packed in 2008 when the Bulldogs won the MVC title. With Des Moines to draw from, Drake can fill a lot of seats in (its rare) good seasons.
Evansville - Ford Center (8,930). The Aces used to be the kind of draw that could regularly fill 9,000 seats. Now, it’s about 2,000 more than they need. Like Bradley, however, fans would return quickly for a winner.
Ilinois State - Redbird Arena (10,000). You could knock 1,000 seats out and not lose the atmosphere. Redbirds fans seem to turn out for big games, but won’t fill the upper deck consistently.
Indiana State - Hulman Center (10,200). The MVC’s smallest public school would be better off in a 6,000-seat arena.
Loyola - Gentile Arena (4,963). Loyola should be able to draw reasonable crowds with consistent success.
Missouri State - JQH Arena (11,000). I wouldn’t change a thing about this arena, which is one of the MVC’s best. Sure, it’s probably 1,000 seats ambitious, but it looks great. MSU and Springfield are big enough to support that size.
Northern Iowa - McLeod Center (6,650). Perfect size for the school and community.
Southern Ilinois - SIU Arena (8,339). This size seems appropriate for the school and community. As this year proves, fans will show up when the Salukis win.
Wichita State - Koch Arena (10,506). You could make an argument for 500-1,000 more seats, but it’s not necessary. The size allows WSU to fill it for all games (although some student seats go unused), create a great atmopshere and create a demand for season tickets.
On Air: CBS Sports Network - Cox (2260), DirectTV (221), DISH (158), FiOS (594), U-Verse (1643)
Announcers: Andrew Catalon, Steve Lappas