Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Starring Nun

Quick quiz - What's the name of the nun from Loyola? That would be the one in Chicago that is going to the men's basketball Final Four, by the way.

The nun? Oh everyone knows that by now. It's Sister Jean.

She has become so popular that Loyola has contracted out to have Sister Jean apparel manufactured. In fact, there are now at least 25 different official Sister Jean t-shirts, not to mention socks and bobbleheads.

Another quick quiz - Name any player or coach on Loyola's team.

You can't, can you?

The 98 year old nun is cute and it's a nice subplot, and if you think you've seen a lot of her so far, wait until the Final Four starts. Still, can at least some of this be about the Loyola players?

Loyola's run to the Final Four is an incredible story. It's been an amazing four-game stretch for the 11-seeded Ramblers, who took out Miami, Tennessee and Nevada by a combined four points before a 78-62 win over Kansas State in the regional final Saturday. This is a team that hadn't won an NCAA game since 1985 prior to this year.

TigerBlog fell asleep before the end of Kansas State-Kentucky Thursday night and checked his phone in the middle of the night to see the final. He was stunned that the Wildcats lost. Well, they're both Wildcats. He's stunned that the ones from Kentucky lost. He would have thought they were a sure thing to be in San Antonio this weekend.

Instead, it'll be Loyola who joins Michigan, Villanova and Kansas. Loyola is in the NCAA Final Four. How close did the Ramblers come to not even being in the Missouri Valley Conference Final Four?


Loyola trailed Northern Iowa by four late in the second half before a 14-2 run turned that around. Even so, the final of the MVC quarterfinal was 54-50. Had Loyola lost, it would have been in the NIT.

And for all of that, for all of the time you've now watched this team play, really the only person you can identify is Sister Jean. This fascinates TigerBlog.

In fact, this NCAA tournament has really been about two people - Sister Jean and the guy who does UMBC's Twitter.

He was great, as you may remember, though UMBC has already lost 10,000 followers since they lost to K-State after beating Virginia.

Of course, could Princeton ever get away with tweeting the way he did? Should it want to?

TigerBlog would use the word "cautious" to describe what he thinks Princeton's social media efforts should be. He would use the words "not the least bit cautious" to describe what UMBC did. On the other hand, it couldn't have worked better for UMBC.

With Loyola in the Final Four, TigerBlog wonders if an Ivy League team could make it one day, preferably of course Princeton.

TigerBlog started with trivia. He'll give you another one now.

Princeton and Loyola have played once all-time. Who was the Princeton head coach in the game?

For that matter, here's another one - TigerBlog has seen Princeton play at one of the four Final Four teams. Name that team.

The last Ivy League team to get to the Final Four was Penn in 1979. Princeton has been there once, in 1965. TigerBlog is quite confident that Bradley's record for most points in a Final Four game - the 58 he had against Wichita State in the third-place game - will endure for another year.

As for the questions, you want answers?

Joe Scott was the coach when Princeton played Loyola. The Tigers lost to the Ramblers 68-57 in the opening round of the BCA Classic at Ohio Statein 2006. Sub-question: Who led Princeton in scoring in that game?

If you said Michael Strittmatter, you are correct. Strittmatter, then a sophomore, had 17 in the loss.

And where has TB seen Princeton play one of the Final Four teams? Kansas.

That was back in 1999, when Princeton lost 82-67 to the Jayhawks. Among TigerBlog's biggest memories of that trip are:
1) you know you got up early when you can wake up here, fly to Kansas City, rent a car, drive to Lawrence and get to the hotel while they're still serving the breakfast buffet
2) the Allen Field House is like the Palestra, only twice as big
3) then-Kansas coach Roy Williams put his arm around then-Princeton radio play-by-play man Tom McCarthy when he went to interview him pregame but the batteries in his recorder were dead. As Tom changed them, Coach Williams drawled "Tom ... No problem. We've all been there."
4) there were great brownies in the media room

Princeton is 0-2 all-time against the Jayhawks, that game, and game two years later at Jadwin Gym. TB remembers Ed Persia's half-court shot at the first-half buzzer that made it a six-point game before the Jayhawks pulled away in the second half.

Princeton is 2-5 all-time against Michigan, and the teams haven't played since 1972. They did play twice in the 1964-65 season, with epic games in which future Knicks teammates Bradley and Cazzie Russell went against each other first in the ECAC Holiday Festival in the Garden and then in the NCAA semifinal in Oregon.

As for Villanova, Princeton is 15-22, with 36 of those 37 games played between 1940 and 1980. TB saw the 37th, the 50-48 loss in the 1991 NCAA tournament at Syracuse. It's one of TB's most hated moments in his time here.

Anyway, those are just some NCAA thoughts.

TigerBlog is bummed that Purdue lost in the regional semifinal to Texas Tech. He wonders if the Boilermakers would still be playing if Isaac Haas hadn't gotten hurt and missed the tournament.

And he wonders, as he said before, if an Ivy League team will make it back to the Final Four. He'd love to see it, especially the one that wears orange and black.

No comments: