Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Green's five takeaways from Loyola-Chicago's 75-62 win over Niagara

Photo Credit: Geno Green

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

After an eight-game home winning streak was snapped in a 60-58 loss to Furman on Nov. 9, Loyola-Chicago bounced back in style with a 75-62 win over Niagara on Wednesday night. Here are my five takeaways from Gentile Arena.

1) Slow motion:

It is not normal when a game begins with an administrative technical foul, but Niagara would be called for one before the opening tip. The result would be a missed free throw attempt from Clayton Custer.

Ramblers coach Porter Moser settled Custer down and encouraged him to shrug it off as a full game was still in play.

“I wanted him to feel loose as I said to him that it was just a bonus free throw,” Moser said. “It was 40 minutes of play still and it was a missed point, so I joked with him and did not want to dwell on it.”

The miss served as a harbinger for early shooting woes as Loyola-Chicago went 6:00 until without a basket. Kruwtig’s layup in the post snapped the drought, but Niagara remained ahead at 15-12 with 11:49 left in the opening half.

2) Disciplinary action:

The bread and butter of the Ramblers’ run to the Final Four last season was their ability to keep turnovers to a minimum, but the first two games of this campaign have been the opposite.

After 14 turnovers each against UMKC and Furman, Loyola-Chicago clamped down with 10 turnovers and shared the wealth with 16 assists against Niagara. Ramblers forward Aher Uguak wants the reduction of mistakes to be consistent once more and not a one-game deal.

“I feel like we can still clean the turnovers up and has been a point of emphasis in practice to drive the ball in the paint,” Uguak said.

3) The Krutwig factor:

In need of a consistent presence on both ends, Cameron Krutwig filled the void with a double-double (18 points and 11 rebounds). The sophomore started the 19-5 run in the latter stages of the first half with back-to-back layups in the post.

Krutwig’s improved athleticism was on full display with an incredible spin move and a flawless turn to the rim for a layup which gave Loyola its biggest lead at 44-29 at the 18:02 mark in the second half.

“It felt good to get back out there after last Friday and play the way we played tonight. We focused on offense given it wasn’t up to par last week and today it showed,” Krutwig said.

4) New Mexico transfer making the little plays:

Despite a 15-point game, sophomore Aher Uguak executed a play that did not appear in the scoring column. Ahead by single digits in the early portion of the second half, Krutwig missed the free throw for the conventional three-point play, but the 6-foot-7 sophomore made a timely play. Uguak slapped of the ball back to Krutwig for the layup, which completed a four-point possession for Loyola-Chicago.

“I was screaming from the bench and loved that play. After that, Krutwig drove it to the rim for the basket. Those are the little things,” Moser said.

Uguak sat out the previous two seasons and is still looking find his identity in his third game.

“I met with [Aher] after the Furman game and told him to have some fun,” Moser said. “He just sat out two years and looked so tight and almost unhappy. I told him that you got to smile and let your defense and all of the little things dictate everything.”

Uguak’s hustle play gave the Ramblers their first double-digit lead of the night at 39-29, but would make an impact on the next offensive possession with a conventional three-point play to further the lead to 13.

5) Paint dominance:

The Ramblers pounded the paint and wore the Purple Eagles down as the game progressed with 50 compared to the latter’s 18.

After finishing with 28 points in the paint against Niagara, Moser wanted to see Loyola get back to getting precise touches inside.

“I like how it was an emphasis for us to get it in the paint,” Moser said. “We had 50 points in the paint tonight and drove to the rim, instead of settling.”