Loyola Chicago’s Cinderella Story ended at the hands of Michigan in the Final 4 of the NCAA Tournament. The Ramblers were ahead most of the game, and it looked like they were going to punch their ticket to the National Championship Game. However, turnovers proved to be their Achilles heel as they went on a streak of 6 straight possessions that ended in turnovers and Michigan capitalized. Moritz Wagner shined putting up 24 points and 15 rebounds which puts him in the same breath as Hakeem Olajuwon and Larry Bird as the only players to post 20 points and 15 rebounds in a National Semi-Final Game. That is some impressive company to be in, and he is looking more and more like a potential steal in the upcoming NBA draft. Now, back to Loyola. Once they got a solid lead in the game, they became too passive, and wanted to run clock. This caused them to lose their offensive momentum that they started the game with. Then, once Michigan started to put pressure on them and get back into the game, Loyola was unable to stop the bleeding, and they couldn’t get the easy shots that they got in the first half. Who knows what the outcome would have been if Loyola would have just kept their foot on the gas, but Michigan showed a lot of heart and grit to climb back into the game, and ultimately Jalen Rose’s Grandma gained bragging rights over Sister Jean.
Sister Jean is the story behind the story. Many have formed opinions on her, and recently the opinions have not been in her favor. Many say that Sister Jean is taking away from what these players have accomplished on the court. There were plenty of stories that came out about media members not showing up to the Players press conference but packed the room when Sister Jean took the stage. The press conferences were held at the same time, but why were there no media members present where the players were at? So, in that aspect I can totally see where the argument is being made that Sister Jean is stealing the spotlight from the product on the court. The players are not household names like Sister Jean has become, nor do they have bobbleheads that are on back order.
Another argument against Sister Jean is that she is only in it for the money and publicity. She sold her naming rights to Loyola which means they can make money off her name and likeness, but I’m sure she gets a healthy cut of the profits from that. Although she is a heart warming story, and something that needs to be taken into consideration when filling out brackets, she can easily be portrayed as a money hungry sellout looking for 15 minutes of fame. To me, her role in the Cinderella that was the Loyola Chicago Ramblers is very minimal, and I give all credit where credit is due; to the players and coaches. The run that they went on was as historic as it was unpredictable which made this NCAA Tournament very fun to watch. Except for the sake of my brackets.
All in all, the players and coaches on this team deserve all the credit in the world for what they accomplished in this years NCAA Tournament. The unselfishness of their offense, and the tenacity of their defense caught teams off guard. Not to mention the clutch, timely shots that they hit to survive each round, and advance all the way to San Antonio for the Final 4. Porter Moser had his team ready to play each night with schemes and plays that were specific to each match up. The play of Clayton Custer, Ben Richardson, Donte Ingram, and Cameron Krutwig was unexpected to say the least. These guys were underdogs in every single game they played and proved to the world that the Missouri Valley Conference is nothing to overlook. They represented Chicago as well as we could have possibly hoped, and nobody can take away what they accomplished. This team overcame all the doubt, all the negativity, and all the adversity to get back to where they once were 55 years ago; The Final 4.