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Drawing Up a Winning Season


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Doing Better.

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Loyola University Chicago men's basketball coach, Drew Valentine with players

Drawing up a winning season

3 questions for head coach Drew Valentine

What are your greatest challenges this season?

For every program and coach, the number one thing is health. Last year, our preseason set us back a little bit from trying to catch a rhythm because we had such a new team. Trying to figure out how to put guys in the best position and by the time we got to full strength in December, I felt like we hit our stride. Also, understanding what it takes to win and understanding that this program has such a history and tradition of having success.

What lessons do you take from last year?

The first thing is you get familiar with the new places, the new players in the Atlantic 10 Conference and you get familiar with the identities of each program in the league. Based on that, you try to build a roster in the offseason with the transfer portal additions and freshman additions that will help us have a lot of success.

What are you most excited about?

How our offseason has gone. My first two years were two different stories. Last year I felt like there were days where we were moving in the right direction but there were definitely plenty of days where I would be drained as a coach because I felt like we were pouring so much in and it wasn’t being reciprocated from the players. This year, dating back to the spring, I left practice feeling how excited I was to coach this team and be around this team.

Loyola University Chicago mens basketball head coach Drew Valentine
“I’ve been talking a lot this offseason about pride, and just carrying that sense of pride at every single game, every single practice.” Drew Valentine

Key returning players

Loyola mens basketball player #4 guard Braden Norris

#4 Guard Braden Norris

6-foot, 180-pound graduate student

He was the only player to start in all 31 games last season. He ranked second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.9 points per game while leading the team with 4 assists per game. He averaged a team-leading 37.3 minutes per game. He ended his season 26th among active Division I players in career 3-point field goal percentage (41.6%) and 30th in career assists (521).

Loyola mens basketball player #10 forward Tom Welch

#10 Forward Tom Welch

6-foot-8, 220-pound, graduate student

One of three Ramblers to appear in all 31 games last season and made 19 starts. He was one of the most effective players around the rim nationally, ranking fifth in the country in 2-point field goal percentage at 73.3%. He was fifth on the team in scoring average (7.0) and second in rebounding average (4.2).

Loyola mens basketball player #23 forward Philip Alston

#23 Forward Philip Alston

6-foot-6, 235-pound senior

He appeared in all 31 games while making 30 starts in his inaugural season with the Ramblers in 2022–23. He led the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 14.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest, while blocking a team-high 33 shots. He reached 1,000 career points in Loyola’s game at Saint Joseph’s on January 14.

Loyola mens basketball player #33 guard and forward Ben Schwieger

#33 Guard/Forward Ben Schwieger

6-foot-7, 205-pound redshirt sophomore

Last season, he was named to the A-10 All-Rookie Team. He appeared in 30 of 31 games, starting in the final 26. He ranked third on the team in scoring, averaging 9.2 points per game. He shot 45.4% (104-of-229) from the field and 34.9% (38-of-109) from 3-point range.

New players to watch

Forward Dame Adelekun

6-foot-8, 230-pound graduate student

Played for Dartmouth last season. As a senior, had 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.0 blocks per game.

Guard Greg Dolan

6-foot-4, 190-pound graduate student

Played for Cornell last season. He was the Big Red’s leading scorer in 2022–2023, averaging 13.3 points and shooting 48.2% (134 of 278) in 28 games.

Guard Des Watson

6-foot-5, 210-pound junior transfer from Davidson

In 31 games last season, he averaged 9.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.


Doing More.
Doing Better.

Back to Magis