Eastern’s Allison Day helps Loyola make hoops history
Four years ago, Allison Day saw her senior season at Eastern Brown end before it started after a knee injury forced her to the sidelines for the entire campaign.
Now, she’s looking to make up for lost time.
Day, currently a senior at Loyola University in Chicago, helped her Rambler teammates to a history setting season. She led the team in scoring (11.7 points per game) and rebounding (6.9 rebounds per game), earning a first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference nod. She is just the fifth player in Loyola Chicago history to earn that honor.
“It was a growing experience,” Day said. “I was finally an upperclassmen, getting to that point where I was confident in what I was doing.”
The first two seasons were up-and-down for Day. She broke into the starting lineup as a freshman, earning a spot on the all-freshman team during her first campaign.
As a sophomore, Day started 20 games and finished second on the team in scoring. The team finished that year with a winning record, 15-14, but the Coronavirus pandemic canceled the MVC tournament.
This season, the MVC was no joke. Missouri State finished undefeated in the conference with Drake right behind at 13-5. Illinois State (12-6 in league play) and Northern Iowa (11-7) rounded out the top four. Bradley (10-8) won the MVC tournament title, knocking off Loyola Chicago in the semifinal.
“[The MVC is] tough,” Day said. “Drake and Missouri State are the big dogs, but there were six teams that could really go either way. They would give the big dogs a run for their money.” Reflecting on her first three seasons, Day said she is finally starting to get a feel for her approach.
“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster,” Day said. “Right now, it’s kind of settled down. I know what’s going on, I know how my team is and how the conference works. I can relax and just play.” The winding down of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic may have gone a long way in helping Day relax.
“We got hit with something new every day,” Day said. “False positives, the other teams having positives and not playing…even our tournament got messed up because of a positive test.”
The pandemic forced changes to scheduling, limiting non-conference games and forcing league games to be played in groups of two on Fridays and Sundays. The latter was a positive feature, according to Day, as it allowed families to watch the games easier.
Before the season even started, the teams faced challenges that they haven’t had to deal with this year.
“We didn’t have much of a summer together,” Day said. “For the first part of the preseason we were in small groups, we weren’t allowed to practice as a team. The preparation was all delayed to begin with.”
Once the season actually began, a positive test in the program could throw the entire season into flux.
“It’s full team [only] three days a week,” Day said. “If somebody does test positive and you have to quarantine, then you’re out practice, you’re out weightlifting. It’s just a lot of stressful components in a season.”
On the court, Day and the Ramblers were able to overcome those challenges and make a little history. Ellie Rice scored her 1,000th career point in the team’s finale against Abilene Christian on March 21.
“She was going to med school, we knew she wasn’t going to come back,” Day said. “It was exciting for her to get to have that accomplishment.”
Day hopes to match Rice in her senior campaign. She currently has 831 points at Loyola, 169 away from a milestone she didn’t get to achieve at Eastern Brown.
“I was hurt and didn’t get to play my senior year,” Day said. “[Reaching 1,000 points is] one of my big goals.”
As she prepares to embark on her senior campaign, Day hopes to make a few tweaks to her game.
“I’m trying to expand my game a lot,” Day said. “Instead of just being a post player on the block, I’m really trying to work on my outside game. People in my conference know who I am and what I do, I have to expand my game.”
This past season, the team finished 13-15 overall. The Ramblers’ final win came in the last game of the Women’s Basketball Invitational, the first postseason berth in school history. Day hopes that momentum carries into this upcoming year.
“We’re finally getting to the point where we’re a good team,” Day said. “It’s not like we’re just a better team than last year. We’re setting a tone for how this program is ran, which is really cool to be a part of.”
She and the Ramblers also have their eyes on bringing the program a winning season for just the second time since the 2012-2013 campaign.
“We were pretty close last year,” Day said. “I think we have even more good components this year, we’re going to be better. Winning is on all our minds.”