‘Hounds laud KU

Coach compares team to '02 squad

Six years ago, Loyola (Md.) basketball coach Jimmy Patsos was an assistant at Maryland, helping coach his Terrapins against Kansas University in the 2002 Final Four.

That’s the last time he saw the Jayhawks play in person. Truthfully, he doesn’t think a whole lot has changed.

“They look as good as that team,” Patsos said after KU’s 90-60 victory over Loyola on Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.

That’s quite a compliment, considering the Jayhawks’ 2002 team finished 33-4 and was one of the finest KU had assembled in recent years.

So it was worth asking a basketball guy like Patsos, who has a historical and objective perspective: What’s to like about this KU team’s chances at making a national-title run?

“Everything,” Patsos replied. “If their big men can shoot it, they’re unstoppable.”

Particularly against a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference team like the Greyhounds missing their biggest big guy, 6-foot-10 Hassan Fofana, who was out because of an injury.

The Greyhounds (6-9) played against bigger guys all night, and the combined 37 points by KU’s Sasha Kaun, Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson provided proof of Loyola’s troubles inside.

Regardless, the Greyhounds kept it close in the first half. With the help of poor shooting early by Kansas, Loyola cut the deficit to 26-22 with 5:08 to go before halftime when Gerald Brown drilled his fourth three-pointer in a five-minute stretch.

Brown then went cold, and Kansas put the hurtin’ on. The Jayhawks closed the half on a 15-2 run.

“We got a little overexcited,” said Brown, who finished with a team-high 13 points. “Staying with the No. 3 team in the country, anyone would get excited. We came out and made a few mistakes, and they just converted on it.”

Patsos stayed animated by the Loyola bench, calling Tuesday’s game “an experience” and considering it much more valuable than any practice back home in Baltimore.

Besides, making a serious run in the MAAC could benefit from playing one of the best in the country, and Patsos is convinced his team did Tuesday.

He even went as far as comparing 2008 Jayhawks with the ’02 Final Four team, saying that Jeff Boschee “might have shot it better, but I think (Russell) Robinson defends it better, so you trade that off.

“They’ve got that look,” Patsos added.

Loyola, meanwhile, returns to MAAC play, where it already is 2-2. The schedule here on out is conference matchups, save a Feb. 23 made-for-television Bracket Busters game.

It’s doubtful that they’ll run into an atmosphere like Allen Fieldhouse, even on an average night like Tuesday’s. That’s what will stick with the Greyhounds more than anything from a 30-point loss.

“It’s a real honor,” Patsos said. “Twenty years from now they’re never going to forget being here. I would like to thank Bill Self for having us.”