Johnathan Loyd: The Unsung Hero

Kevin Cline

This is the story of an unsung hero, that man who consistently delivers brilliance, but receives little recognition.  In sports this may be the sixth man, the kicker, or even the designated hitter.  On the Oregon men’s basketball team, this man is the point guard. With star Dominic Artis still on suspension, Johnathan Loyd has led the team to a great start to the season.  The Ducks have not lost a game, and the players are clicking on all cylinders.

The unsung hero

Kevin Cline

The unsung hero

Loyd, a 5’8″ guard out of Las Vegas, Nevada, is Dana Altman’s first recruit and one of his most trusted players.  Despite the rise of Artis and several transfers, Loyd continues to garner playing time and produce with what he is given.

In his senior season, Loyd has managed to quarterback his team to greatness.  How has he done it?  Well, I have three answers:

1)  Loyd is incredibly efficient.  One of the most important statistics for a point guard is the assist-to-turnover ratio (ast/to), measured by dividing a player’s assists by his turnovers.  Effectively, the ast/to measures a player’s ball handling skills and efficiency.  Loyd boasts a ratio of about 3.0.

An ast/to of 2.0 is considered about as good as it gets for a point guard, so Loyd’s 3.0 tells us that he is incredible.  This would rank him around 9th in the NBA for ast/to, and number 1 in our hearts.  Basically, for every turnover he commits, Loyd contributes three assists.   Like the unsung hero that Loyd is, the ast/to goes mostly unnoticed.  Fans focus primarily on points, dunks, threes and such, forgetting that those are only attainable with help of players like Johnathan Loyd.

Johnathan Loyd controlling the game

Craig Strobeck

Johnathan Loyd controlling the game

2)  Loyd excels at managing game tempo.  Like the Oregon football team, the basketball team likes to play hard and fast.  They are averaging around 90 points a game, which ranks 12th in the country.  This shows that in his 26 minutes a game, Loyd runs the team at a high pace while still being incredibly efficient.

3)  Loyd entertains the fans.  The team’s great start to the season is not just about wins and losses, but also about the intangibles.  Oregon basketball is fun to watch!  Loyd is making plays, dropping dimes, and looking good while doing it.  Did anyone see that between-the-legs pass to Moser?  Is anyone watching Loyd maneuver around opponents as if he were De’Anthony Thomas?  I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: go watch an Oregon game!

So why is Johnathan Loyd an unsung hero?  This I have no answer for.  Maybe it takes deeper analysis to appreciate the greatness that is Loyd, but he is an outstanding basketball player.  Sure he doesn’t put up 20 points per game like teammate Joseph Young, or draw NBA scouts like Kansas’s Andrew Wiggins, but he is amazing as a true point guard.  In today’s game, that is harder to accomplish than it sounds.  With scoring point guards such as Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, we forget what a point guard is actually supposed to do.  A point guard’s job is to handle the ball, control the game, and make his teammates better.  Guess what – that is exactly what Johnathan Loyd does.

Hopefully fans begin to understand and acknowledge Loyd’s presence.  He may lose a few minutes here and there when Artis returns, but Altman’s genius will figure out a way to get them both involved.  Johnathan Loyd is quickly moving up on the all-time Oregon wins list, but his popularity and fan recognition of his skills has lagged.  That is why this is the story of an unsung hero; Loyd is backbone of our amazing team but few seem to notice or care – yet.

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