basketball

Loyola-Chicago’s NCAA Performance Is A Welcomed Reminder of the Past

By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com

I have always hated the three-pointer. Probably always will.

I’m an old-school basketball guy. Move the ball, set screens, hit the open man. A backdoor cut and subsequent basket is the ultimate 

reward.

Was taught that way and stayed true to it. I do realize the game has changed, but it is refreshing to see old school basketball in the current game of spread the floor and shoot the three.

Loyola-Chicago offered it once again Sunday afternoon in their 71-58 upset of No. 1 seed Illinois.

By the way, they sporadically did shoot 10 threes and made four of them. That’s an acceptable amount for me, and a high percentage.

They made it look easy. A disciplined, methodical team wins over a talented, fast pedal one.

With a man-trapping defense, the Rambles effectively and efficiently took Illinois out of its natural rhythm and sputtered an usual fluid offense. They forced 17 Illinois turnovers and caused a 4-for-14 three-point shooting performance as well as a season-low 58 points.

The Ramblers’ upset should rekindle memories when they took the college basketball universe and the country by storm with their relatively obscure run to the Final Four in 2018. 

They were the true underdog then as an 11th seed behind their spiritual leader, a 98-year-old nun named Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, who they greeted before and after each game in her wheelchair at the end of their bench.

Their saga soared as a nationally compelling drama, and there was a general sadness felt when it ended in a loss to Michigan in the Final Four.

It was the kind of Cinderella-based stuff you likely see once in your lifetime, and you won’t forget. You just couldn’t make it up.

Well, now the Ramblers are back again with a 101-year-old masked Sister Jean in the stands, and ready to embark into the Sweet Sixteen next week against the winner of the Oklahoma State-Oregon game.

Like they did then, they have a group of blue-collar, lunch-pale players who get the job done. Head coach Porter Moser is a low-profile mentor who truly fits the bill.

 Ben Richardson, who was their star then, currently is playing in the Swiss League. 

Senior 6-9 center Cameron Krutwig is the team’s current leader. Krutwig is the type of player who works for his success, as it is easy to see that he isn’t blessed with a natural flow. 

He had a stellar 19-point, 12-rebound, five assist effort in limiting Illinois’ All-American big man  Kofi Cockburn to a quiet 21 points.

Krutwig’s most glaring stat was his four steals, two pivotal ones in the final minutes. 

Ironically, he was their top recruit four years ago, and has relived the magic four years later.

Senior Lucas Williamson and sophomore Marquise Kennedy are a steady, solid backcourt to lend support.

The Ramblers (26-4) have a legitimate shot to get to the Elite Eight and possibly the Final Four again. 

Whether they do or not, their performance against Illinois on how the game can still be effective being played in the likes of a John Wooden, old school style.

Don’t rely heavily on the three, move the ball, keep your hands up on defense.

Sometimes, it isn’t bad being the tortoise instead of the hare.

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