Michigan is about to face a tough test. The three-seeded Wolverines will take on the 11-seeded Ramblers on Saturday afternoon for a chance to got to tee National Championship.
While many say the Ramblers “got lucky” and aren’t really Final Four material, there is significant evidence against this. While they may have gotten a bounce that went in their favor against Tennessee, the Ramblers have been dominant all season long. They’ve taken down Florida, Miami, Tennessee, Kansas State, and the Missouri Valley Conference on their way to the Final Four.
Here are 5 things you need to know about the Ramblers ahead of the Michigan game on Saturday:
1. Loyola’s ball movement is unlike any other ball movement in the country
Teams have struggled to guard the Ramblers for a full 40 minutes and that is thanks to their ball movement. When you watch them, you see a player pass up a wide open shot for a better shot seconds later. Their passing is slick and it makes them fun to watch. The Ramblers aren’t afraid to go down to the wire on the shot clock to get the best shot they can.
2. Sister Jean is much more than the nun you see on TV
She’s 98 years old, she won the Spirit of the Valley award last year in the MVC, shes in the Loyola Athletics Hall of Fame, she has a conference room named after her on campus, and her birthday is “Sister Jean Day” at Loyola. But she’s so much more than that. She’s been there for Porter Moser and this team since the first day he arrived on campus. She knows what she is talking about. If she tells a player to watch out for a player on the other team, they do.
Before she fell in November, she walked around campus and was in Gentile with the team all the time. She’s in San Antonio to be with the team for the final four, and of course, deliver her pregame prayer.
3. Porter’s Jacket is famous and has a Twitter account.
In 2015, during the CBI run, Porter’s jacket became famous, and thus, the Twitter account was born. During games, it is easy to tell when Moser is fired up because the jacket comes off. On a few occasions, its ended up on the sidelines, other times, he puts it on a chair. The tweets the come from the account are hilarious and the account is definitely worth a follow.
4. Clayton Custer and Ben Richardson are the best duo on and off the court
Told on every TV broadcast is the story of Loyola’s backcourt. Richardson and Custer have been teammates since third grade. They’re also best friends, roommates, and all-stars on the court.
See this no-look pass from the first game?
Yeah, Draymond Green even tweeted about it.
That Hammer play Loyola just ran for the corner 3 was BEAUTIFUL!!!!— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) March 15, 2018
These two are special parts of this Loyola team and the success they have achieved together since the third grade is unique.
5. Loyola’s 1963 Championship, the “Game of Change”, is one of the most important events in history
In 1963, George Ireland broke one of the unwritten rules in college basketball. He started four African American players on his team. Loyola went on to win the 1963 National Championship with the same starting five. Loyola didn’t just win the 1963 National Championship, they made history in the college basketball world and in our nation.
Shannon Ryan, from the Chicago Tribune, wrote a phenomenal story on it.
The idea of starting four was a new experience,” said Rich Rochelle, a reserve center. “Five black players at one time, that was unheard of.”
Loyola’s integrated team — an emblem of equality — inspired abuse from opposing fans and intimidating letters from the Ku Klux Klan.“It was addressed to my dorm on Sheridan Road,” recalled Harkness, a senior captain. “I started thinking, ‘These guys are talking like this and they know where we live. What else do they know? They could wait out there and ambush me.’ I was afraid.”
Team members focused on basketball and academics, but the swirling unrest was hard to ignore in 1963 — the bloodiest year of the Civil Rights Movement.
Four black girls were killed in a Birmingham church bombing. Martin Luther King led the March on Washington and wrote “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Civil rights activist Medgar Evers was assassinated.
A massive Chicago Public Schools boycott for overcrowding at predominantly African-American schools and a refusal to integrate with white schools made local headlines.
It was the year Alabama Gov. George Wallace exclaimed during his inaugural address, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
And here was Loyola — starting four black players and competing against a white team from the South.
“We were in the middle of all of that,” Harkness said.
They were about to make another dent in a changing nation.
“That’s when it began to turn,” center Les Hunter said. “Nobody had ever heard of us and we’re showing up with black players and winning like that? It taught people that if you’re going to compete, you’re going to have to learn acceptance of black athletes.”
Loyola may not be dancing if they had not won their conference championship, but now that they’re here, they’re not ready to leave.