Despite Irish success, 2012 a 'tough' season for injured CB Wood

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Despite Irish success, 2012 a 'tough' season for injured CB Wood

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Lo Wood was supposed to anchor Notre Dame's cornerbacks this season as one of the only players at his position with any semblance of experience at it. In late August, Wood tore his Achilles tendon doing nothing more than backpedaling in practice.

When the injury occurred, it wasn't an overstatement to hypothesize Notre Dame's secondary was going to be a massive weak link in 2012. KeiVarae Russell wound up holding his own opposite Bennett Jackson's solid play -- good enough, at least, for Notre Dame to reach the BCS Championship with a bunch of greenhorns at cornerback.

"Once I found out I was out for the season, I was quiet for an hour wondering, like, dang, this could be a great season," Wood said. "And it turned out to be one. It's crazy how it happened."

Crazy would've been the word used to describe someone who thought Notre Dame could go 12-0 without Wood (of course, that could've been said for someone who thought the same thing of the Irish with Wood). Watching the Irish steadily work their way to No. 1 has helped soften the blow a bit for Wood, but the redshirt junior-to-be still described the last few months as "tough."

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Having to stand on the sidelines for practice was the most difficult aspect of missing the entire season, explained Wood.

"That's the hardest part, because all you want to do is be with the team and get better at the same time," he said. "Knowing you can't better yourself while you're own brothers are getting better too, it's really hard."

Wood's been a source of knowledge for Russell, who's still new to the position despite having about five months under his belt working at it. While the two may go against each other in the coming months for a starting spot alongside Jackson, Wood said he's been impressed by Russell's fortitude going into his uncharted waters.

"He came in and stood his ground, he didn't get pushed over or anything," Wood said.

If all goes according to plan, Wood will join his teammates for workouts later in January, and he anticipates being ready for spring practice in a few months. For now, Wood's relishing his first chance to go on the road with Notre Dame all year, having spent plenty of weeks watching from his home in South Bend.

And while he's not healthy enough to play, his injury has healed to the point where he could sprint on to the field to celebrate a National Championship.

"Oh yeah," Wood smiled. "It's pretty much healthy enough to do that."

NCAA final rematch: Loyola-Lewis in men's volleyball MIVA semis Wednesday on CSN+

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NCAA final rematch: Loyola-Lewis in men's volleyball MIVA semis Wednesday on CSN+

A rematch of the 2015 NCAA men's volleyball final between Loyola and Lewis will be aired on CSN+ on Wednesday at 7 p.m..

The two-time defending NCAA Champion Loyola men's volleyball team will take on Lewis, which the Ramblers defeated in five games in last year's final, in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association tournament semifinal.

The two Chicagoland schools are again among the best teams in the country with the Ramblers currently ranked No. 10 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I-II Men’s Coaches Poll and the Flyers coming in at No. 12. Loyola is the No. 2 seed in the tournament while the Flyers hold the No. 4 seed.

This is the fifth straight year the two teams have met in the MIVA tournament, including meeting in the tournament final each of the past three years.

Local products feature heavily on both teams. Jeff Jendryk, a graduate of St. Francis High School in Wheaton, leads the Ramblers with 266 kills, Cary-Grove grad Jake Selsky leads Loyola with 180 digs and Ricky Gevis (Benet Academy) has 174 kills. Key Chicagoland players for Lewis include kills-leader Mitch Perinar (Minooka), blocks-leader Bobby Walsh (Mt. Carmel), digs-leader Jake Walenga (Lincoln-Way North) and setter Scott Fifer (Sandburg).

Loyola coach Sheryl Swoopes elected to Basketball Hall of Fame

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Loyola coach Sheryl Swoopes elected to Basketball Hall of Fame

Loyola women's head coach Sheryl Swoopes is among those elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Class of 2016 was announced Monday and Swoopes joins Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf as well as Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and former NBA stars Allen Iverson, Shaquille O'Neal and Yao Ming.

“Today marks a very special moment in my life as well as my family,” Swoopes said in a statement. “I could not be more excited and honored to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Thank you to everyone who has helped me accomplish all of my goals and dreams along the way. God has blessed me tremendously and I am so grateful to be joining such an amazing group of people that I can call family.”

[RELATED - Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf named to basketball Hall of Fame]

Swoopes has an impressive resume that includes an NCAA National Championship, the 1993 Naismith National Player of the year, an NCAA scoring record, Final Four MVP, 12-year WNBA veteran, four WNBA championships, three WNBA MVPs, six WNBA All-Star appearances and three Olympic Gold medals.

"On behalf of Loyola University Chicago and all our Rambler fans I would like to extend a big congratulations to Sheryl on being a part of the 2016 Naismith Hall of Fame class,” Loyola Director of Athletics Steve Watson said in a statement. “It’s an amazing honor and a well-deserved tribute to one of basketball’s great champions and pioneers."

Swoopes has been the head coach for Loyola's women's team since 2013.