Loyola Wolf Pack Vies to Compete in National Championships
Join us this weekend as we open the NAIA National Basketball Tournament
(New Orleans - March 10, 2022) Come one, come all this weekend to see Wolf Pack Basketball in action! It’s been a whirlwind, history-making year at Loyola University New Orleans and the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams are honored to host opening round tournaments, as they vie for the opportunity to compete at nationals.
"We're looking forward to bringing some great college basketball uptown. Our student-athletes and coaches have worked very hard to have this opportunity and we're excited that they get to compete in front of the New Orleans crowd,” said Brett Simpson, Director of Athletics. “We're grateful to Troy Dannen and the staff at Tulane who have been gracious hosts while we recover from Hurricane Ida. They have gone above and beyond to assist us this season."
Loyola’s basketball teams each won the Southern States Athletic Conference regular-season crown and tournament championship, gained national rankings, and broke numerous records this season, earning the right to host the opening rounds of NAIA National Basketball Tournament across the street at Tulane. All are invited to cheer the teams on as the Wolf Pack begins their quest for two national championships on Friday.
The single-elimination tournaments will play at Tulane’s Avron B. Fogelman Arena in Devlin Fieldhouse, with four games on Friday and the men’s and women’s opening round championships on Saturday. Winners will advance to the final rounds of the NAIA National Championship in Kansas City, Mo. and Sioux City, Iowa, the week of March 17-22.
Men’s Basketball started the highly-anticipated season with the hire of former Texas Longhorn, Javan Felix and three returning players who earned NAIA All-America status in 2021. During the season, Zach Wrightsil became the program’s all-time leader in points, rebounds and assists, prior to being named the SSAC Player of the Year, and Myles Burns, who was named the SSAC Defensive Player of the Year for the fourth straight season, and Terry Smith Jr. also eclipsed 1,500 career points during the 2021-22 campaign. The team was also ranked No. 1 in the NAIA for two straight polls before earning the No. 1 overall seed in the NAIA National Championship tournament.
The Women’s Basketball team has had an equally exciting season, claiming the program’s sixth SSAC tournament championship and second regular-season title. The program also dominated the SSAC postseason awards, as Kennedy Hansberry was named the league’s Player of the Year, Taylor Thomas was picked as the SSAC Defensive Player of the Year, and Sydni Tangle earned Sixth Woman of the Year.
What’s all the more magical is that they have earned their tremendous success while all of Loyola’s teams are without a home gym. “The Den” at Loyola got crushed in Hurricane Ida. Good Morning America spotlighted the severe damage with a story on women’s volleyball.
The teams that call The Den home used 16 different facilities this year. They practiced early in the morning and late at night, wherever and whenever they could find available space. Outdoor sports programs hauled debris and helped rebuild their facilities in an effort to get back to normal. All this through another wave of COVID, Simpson said.
“This unbelievable resolve has resulted in historic seasons for the Wolf Pack. Six teams have earned national rankings. Sixteen student athletes qualified for national championships in their respective sports. Loyola teams have seized five conference titles and, to top it all off, our student athletes earned a 3.35 GPA this fall.”
This season has proven that nothing can hold the Wolf Pack down. This weekend, we are hosting the opening rounds of the NAIA championships at the “Devlin Den” across the street - and we'll find out if we go to the finals. Join us!