You'll hear no fancy talk here about pressure defenses and matchup zones and passing schemes. At Loyola of Chicago, the shot's the thing. Any shot, the longer the prettier.
People who attended the opening-round NCAA tournament games in Hartford, Conn., last week were shocked to find out that Loyola's Ramblers don't have a pregame layup drill. They shoot jumpers.
When Coach Gene Sullivan walked into practice Sunday night and found a few of his players taking layups, he shouted, "Hey, what are you guys doing shooting layups? We've got Patrick Ewing next. No layups."
Loyola indeed plays Georgetown next, Thursday night in Providence, R.I., in a third-round game of the East Regional. The Ramblers (27-5) have the nation's longest winning streak at 19 games and could be the tournament's most fun to watch.
The Loyola philosophy is that it's better to hit 40 percent of 100 shots than 50 percent of 70. "We think that the pull-up jump shot is the game of basketball," Sullivan said. "A 15-foot shot is easier to get than a layup. A 12-footer is our layup."
That is easier to say, of course, when you have some truly remarkable playground basketball players, like Alfrerick Hughes and Andre Battle, as the Ramblers do.
Loyola, a 15,000-enrollment, locally prestigious Catholic university, is Chicago's other school under the "L" tracks, just a few stops away from De Paul.
Loyola's 1963 NCAA championship banner hangs here in Alumni Gym, but the school hasn't had much basketball success since, and has been engulfed by all the attention devoted to De Paul.
But De Paul, in the process of going big-time, also went national, in reputation and recruiting. Loyola's starters all are from Chicago's public schools. They play like De Paul used to play, which is to say, the Ramblers shoot. From the hip, and sometimes even from the lip.
"We're going to take Georgetown to the rim," 5-foot-9 point guard Carl Golston said after his team eliminated Southern Methodist to get to the regional round.
Golston has been known to look bigger players in the eye while taking jump shots over them. In fact, a lot of people figure Loyola has about as good a chance as anybody to beat Georgetown because the Ramblers are tough city kids.
The most celebrated of those Loyola starters is Hughes, a 6-4 1/2 guard/forward/center who is second in the nation in scoring with 26.8 points per game. He's got the perfect playground body: strong arms and chest, spindly legs.
Hughes will finish his career as his school's leading scorer; he is already No. 6 on the NCAA's all-time scoring list, having passed people named Mount, West, Barry and Alcindor.
When Hughes, as a freshman, replaced a white senior, rednecks here began producing T-shirts that read, "Save Loyola Basketball, Shoot Alfredrick Hughes."
Hughes did have some rather undistinguished moments that year, like the night against Bradley when he missed 20 straight shots before smashing a meaningless dunk at the end. "Did you see me stick that last one?" Hughes was quoted by teammates as saying in the locker room.
But after shooting 40 percent that year, Hughes improved to 45 percent as a sophomore, and 50 percent the last two seasons, phenomenal considering the number launched from 15 feet or better with his body contorted in various positions.
"We don't want him to have to handle the ball," Sullivan said. "We want him to be ready to shoot the ball every time he gets it."
But don't call Hughes selfish, at least not this season. His assists total increased from 17 (which averages out to less than one per game) to 34.
Loyola didn't win the Midwestern City Conference (regular season and league tournament) because Hughes is a one-man team. Andre Battle averages 21 points per game -- also on pull-up jumpers and still manages to make 50.2 percent.
Golston dropped his scoring average five points this season (15 a game) to pick up his assists average to 9.4, second in the nation.
Sullivan's philosophy of basketball is this: "We put our kids in offensive positions, and we feel the offensive player has an advantage over the defensive player. We try to get a player isolated one-on-one.
"Traditionally on offense, you try to work the basketball from the perimeter to the inside. We start with the inside and work out."
Loyola is the kind of team many didn't figure could last this long in the tournament. Half-court teams with strong inside defense usually do well in March. Jump-shooting supposedly doesn't make it in the NCAAs.
Loyola has beaten Iona and SMU although Hughes has shot only 40 percent through two games, Battle 38 percent and Golston 41.
Sullivan, who played and coached at Notre Dame, is as city tough as his kids. His right eye was poked out by a hockey stick at age 10, and he has a hazel glass replacement. Last year, when one player was hesitant to play because of stitches above his eye, Sullivan took out his glass eye right there in the middle of practice and said something to the effect of, "Hey, if I could play with one, you can, too."
Greg Williams, at 6-2 1/2, certainly has to be tough to play small forward, which he does at times. He was one of three Loyola players -- Golston and Hughes are the others -- representing Chicago four years ago in the Boston Shootout. They lost to a Boston high school team led by Ewing.
There was no small amount of talk here today about Georgetown. But the Ramblers didn't seem to be in awe, like so many others.
"We knew we were going to be good," Sullivan said, explaining why he scheduled games at LSU and Oklahoma, both losses, and back-to-back games with Illinois and Louisville, both victories (not to mention a seven-point victory over De Paul).
Sullivan has been trying to tell his players they are in a no-lose situation this week. Hughes says he's looking forward to a possible rematch with Illinois for a spot in the Final Four.
"All of Chicago is behind us now," Hughes said. "The city is really rolling. I know even De Paul is for us."