If you’re looking for a postmortem on what ultimately did the Loyola Ramblers in against Michigan in the Final Four, this isn’t the place for you. At least not tonight.
There will be plenty of time for the fans, the media and the coaching staff (Porter Moser and company or whoever else) to break down everything that went wrong. To use the loss as mortar and continue building this program into something this city is proud of.
However, tonight there’s no need for any of that.
What Loyola has built is very serious and it deserves our admiration and respect, but if you look closely at their will they just want you to skip the funeral business, scatter their ashes at Joe Gentile Arena and use the life insurance money to throw a kickass party to celebrate all the good times.
Like when Donte Ingram buried a three from the top of the key against Miami to launch one of the most incredible runs in tournament history. Or when Clayton Custer’s leaner clanged off the rim so many times you’d have sworn it had corners before dropping to best Tennessee.
There was Marques Townes halting one last gasp from Nevada with a huge three-pointer in the final minute to kick off the second weekend. Then there was the absolute drubbing of Kansas State, signaling to the rest of America that this wasn’t the product of blind luck and earning a bid to the Final Four.
Their tournament life died as it lived on Saturday night. The Ramblers matched up with one of top programs in the country on the sport’s grandest stage and controlled the tempo for almost three-quarters of the evening.
Cameron Krutwig — who we’re convinced wandered into the stadium in Dallas on the tournament’s first weekend thinking it was an open gym — scored 17 points on Saturday seemingly without ever once having both feet off the floor at the same time. We’ll have to check the photo reels, but that might apply to the entirety of the tournament, too.
Krutwig dominated from below the rim throughout the tournament in a way that captured the essence of the entire team perfectly. Because no team had a better sense of what their identity was than Loyola. Sure, at 6-foot-9 Krutwig probably can dunk, but who needs to waste all that energy?
The Ramblers used their strengths to conceal their weaknesses. Logistical superiority (defensive organization, offensive spacing, etc.) hid the fact that they aren’t particularly long or particularly athletic.
Nuance can be lost in this era of college basketball because who has time for details when you’re just trying to power through nine months of living in squalor on your way to the NBA. For Loyola, it was a calling card.
For roughly 192 minutes of game action, Loyola beat their opponents over the head with nuance. That’s only about the length of a Stanley Kubrick film, but, as Kubrick proved, you can accomplish a lot in a little over three hours.
Take Sister Jean for instance. She’s absolutely adorable and her story only added to the overall excellence of Loyola’s Final Four run.
However, without this incredible team doing almost every little thing right for parts of three weekends, nobody would have known who she was outside of Rogers Park. There’d have been no bobblehead and merchandising, no international superstardom.
She probably would have been just fine with that after a life of selfless service, but it’s a helluva lot cooler now that she is a household name. You could seriously make the argument that she’s now the second most famous nun of all-time behind Mother Theresa. You might not win the argument, but you could absolutely make it.
That’s how powerful sports and an incredible story can be.
It’s also why you’ll have to excuse us if we waste no time dissecting the loss on Saturday.
The Ramblers know what this run could mean to the university and the basketball program. They know that they need a lot of other things to go right in order to capitalize and will likely be taking more serious efforts to set the wheels in motion in the coming days and weeks.
But right now they should be celebrating. We should be celebrating.
Skip the funeral. Throw a party.