11/05/2019

Wolf Pack Basketball Teams Rank in Top 25

For the first time in Loyola's history, the Wolf Pack men’s and women’s basketball teams are both preseason ranked in the Top 25. The men’s team is ranked No. 17, which is the highest ranking in program history. The women are ranked No. 24 and expect to make another run in the national tournament.

The National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) released the 2019-20 Women's Basketball Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll on October 23, with the Loyola Wolf Pack women ranked 24th in the nation. Head coach Kellie Kennedy's team lands in the NAIA's Top 25 for the sixth-straight season, dating back to the 2014-15 preseason poll where the team was picked 11th.

In the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Preseason Poll, the Wolf Pack women were predicted to finish second in the conference behind Bethel. In addition to the SSAC Championship title, the Loyola women turned in a 26-7 season overall and a 17-3 mark in conference play, qualifying for the NAIA National Championship tournament for the sixth-straight season. Coach Kennedy's 2019-20 squad includes five newcomers and 11 returners, led by Kalia Anthony, who won the SSAC Tournament MVP in March to go along with All-American and LSWA awards, and Paige Franckiewicz, who earned Second-Team All-SSAC honors. 

The NAIA 2019-20 Basketball Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll also marks the first time that both Loyola men's and women's basketball teams have been ranked in the preseason, with the men's team entering the Top 25 for the first time at No. 17.

The men’s Wolf Pack team is coming off a SSAC Tournament title season, and they represented Loyola in the NAIA National Tournament for the second time in three years. Loyola finished the season 22-12 overall and 13-9 in SSAC play. The team returns a heap of talent this year led by last season's SSAC Freshman of the Year, Zach Wrightsil, and the conference's Defensive Player of the Year, Myles Burns. Both Wrightsil and Burns earned spots on the All-SSAC team, as well as an honorable mention to the All-American team. 

Burns, Wrightsil, and junior Terry Smith Jr. also put up historic numbers individually last season. All three entered the Top 10 in rebounds for a single season, with Smith ranking ninth in program history and Wrightsil ranking third, while Burns had the most prolific rebound season in Loyola history with 319 boards in 34 games. 

"We are honored to receive some recognition nationally and we feel have a very talented, dynamic group this season,” says men’s Head Coach Stacy Hollowell. “It will be important that we stay humble and grounded, continue to work hard, and prepare with great attention to detail so we can make another run at a championship."

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