Loyola University Maryland
Spring 2007

Power Players

Transfers from elite basketball programs join the Greyhounds

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By David Driver  |  Photo by Vince Lupo
Loyola College basketball players

All roads lead to North Charles Street. At least that’s the case for a trio of basketball players who transferred from power conferences to play for the Greyhounds.

Gerald Brown (Providence) and Omari Isreal (Notre Dame) came from the Big East, while Hassan Fofana (Maryland) arrived from the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference.

“It doesn’t matter what level you’re in,” says Brown, a guard who grew up just a few miles from the Loyola campus and attended Douglass High, a public school in Baltimore. “The competition is the most important thing.” Brown averaged 7.1 points per game for Providence during the 2004-05 season, and averaged 22.2 points per game, eighth in the NCAA, in his first season with the Greyhounds.

With these players, head coach and former Maryland assistant Jimmy Patsos and assistants Terrell Stokes and Matt Kovarik, who both played for the Terps, the Greyhound pedigree looks nothing like a mid-major program.

“We are in the business of second chances,” says Patsos. “I figured these guys deserved another look. They love the school. They like Baltimore. Gerald Brown is a great example. His professors love him in class. He is very engaging.”

One of the first things that Brown saw when he came to campus was the 2002 NCAA Championship ring Patsos won with Maryland. “That is what you can get through hard work,” Brown recalls Patsos saying.

The team’s recent reversal of fortune has played a major role in attracting new talent. The Greyhounds were 15-13 in 2005-06, just two seasons after going 1-27. This past season, the team went 18-13, its best record since 1970-71, falling to Niagara in the semifinal round of the MAAC tournament.

“I was open to anywhere I could contribute,” said Isreal, a forward who also considered George Washington and Arizona State and ended up averaging 9.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game at Loyola. “Loyola was by far the best fit. I am grateful.”


And, he added, “Loyola is destined to have a great program with Coach Patsos here. Everyone here is real enthusiastic about basketball. Basketball is becoming a big part of the school.”

For Fofana, who played in just 16 games this season due to injuries, the Loyola culture, on and off the court, helped shape his decision. “I was looking for a place I could play and contribute, and I also wanted to get a good education,” he says. “It is a small school, a society I could enjoy. It’s a beautiful campus. There is nothing not to like about it. At Loyola, everyone knows each other.”

Brown and Isreal grew up in Maryland and began their college careers out of state. Fofana, born in West Africa, moved to Massachusetts and first played college ball at Maryland under Head Coach Gary Williams.

Brown, Fofana and Isreal all have one more year of eligibility after the 2006-07 season.

A few long-time connections between the players helped pave the way for their transfers to Loyola. Brown and Isreal played against each other for years in Amateur Athletic Union battles between teams from Baltimore and the Washington area, respectively. Isreal’s best friend from high school, Kevin Fisher, is a member of Loyola’s Class of 2007, and the two were roommates this year.

Brown decided it was time to leave Providence after the 2004-05 season. “I knew I wanted to come home,” says Brown, whose mother passed away in 2005. One of his sisters is still in Baltimore, at Dunbar High School. He also has a brother at Frostburg State and a sister at Virginia Union.

Brown and Fofana both played for Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, VA, before both players headed to Providence and Maryland, where Fofana played four games, before transferring to Loyola College.

Rockville native Isreal and Fofana knew each other from summer basketball camps. “Gerald and Hassan made me feel right at home when I came to Loyola,” says Isreal, who was also recruited to play for the Terps before choosing Notre Dame, where he played in 19 games in the 2004-05 season before transferring to Loyola.

Patsos compares his team’s appeal to the theater business; the top players may want to go to Broadway, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a place for great actors off-Broadway as well. “We are happy to provide a place for them to work on their game,” he says.

While Patsos says he would welcome an additional transfer each year, he doesn’t want to rely on building his teams that way. Still, he says this group of standout transfers has already helped in his recruiting of top high school players. “Plus, students and alumni have backed the team, making Reitz Arena one of the toughest places to play in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference,” he says.

For all three, a chance to play for Patsos made the decision to move to Loyola easier. “He is smart,” says Fofana, “and not just book smart. He also a very nice guy,and very well-liked. You want to learn from the best.”

Brown agrees. “[Coach Patsos] is a motivator, a teacher and like a father,” he says. “He lets you make your own decisions. And he loves the game.”

Greyhounds 2006-2007 Season Review

Men’s Women’s

Basketball 18-13

Eliminated by Niagara in MAAC Semifinals

Crew

Placed 2nd in MAAC Crew Championship
Varsity 8 Placed 1st in Mid-Atlantic Crew Championship

Cross Country

Placed 4th in MAAC Championship
Placed 19th in NCAA Regionals

Golf

Placed 2nd in MAAC Championship
Senior Will Shriver won individual competition

Lacrosse 7-5

Won first NCAA tournament bid since 2001
Eliminated in first round by Albany

Soccer 7-11-1

Eliminated by Fairfield in MAAC Semifinals

Swimming & Diving

Placed 3rd in MAAC Championship
Placed 9th in ECAC Championship
Senior Ryan Reeser won 500 Free at MAAC Championship

Tennis 9-8 (regular season)

Placed 7th in MAAC Championship

Basketball 18-12

Eliminated by Iona in MAAC Semifinals

Crew

Placed 2nd in MAAC Championship

Cross Country

Placed 4th in MAAC Championship

Placed 20th in NCAA Regionals

Lacrosse 2-14

Soccer 10-7-2

Eliminated by Siena in MAAC Semifinals

Swimming & Diving

Placed 3rd in MAAC Championship
Placed 7th in ECAC Championship
400 Free Relay team placed 1st at ECAC Championship

Tennis 11-6 (regular season)

Tied for 3rd in MAAC Championship

Track & Field

Placed 4th at MAAC Championship

Volleyball 10-26

Placed 6th in MAAC Championship

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