It Was A Hell Of A Year For Loyola Chicago. But The Run's Not Over Yet.

Sun-Times - Not this time for Loyola.

No late-game heroics. No cutting down the nets. No Final Four. No living the impossible dream.

So, it’s over. A Ramblers run that reached the Sweet 16 had nowhere else to go. A 65-58 loss Saturday to Oregon State at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis was an upset, sure, was heartbreaking, sure, came too damn soon, sure. But have we really reached a point where the Ramblers making it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament is anything less than a gigantic success?

News flash: No, we haven’t.

All that talk about Loyola becoming the next Gonzaga? It was comically premature.

What Loyola actually is — a midsize program that, for four years now, has squeezed nearly every drop of potential out of itself — will just plain have to do.

Hey Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times- kindly go fuck yourself.

Wanna know why print media is going the way of the dinosaurs after the comet hit, and the sun was blacked out? Because of miserable, lazy takes like this on a daily basis. 

First off, who the fuck said anything about Loyola being the next Gonzaga? You? And your big J buddies? 

Ever heard the phrase "happy to be here"? 

That's Loyola Chicago. 

Before Porter showed up the highlight of our "sports" season was packing the gym for Men's Volleyball. Having a basketball team that was not only relevant, but that could hang with anybody in the country was a luxury I don't think anybody outside of Steve Watson and Porter Moser dreamed possible. 

Sorry for lashing out but not only are you wrong about over expectations, but you're also wrong saying the fun stops here.

Tribune- A hand-slap morphed into a swaying embrace as Loyola senior Cameron Krutwig wrapped Lucas Williamson into a seemingly eternal bear hug, blinking back tears as they shared an appreciation and disappointment only four-year teammates can understand.

Coach Porter Moser was the last of the Ramblers off the court, waving in appreciation to the applause of Loyola fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“These kids are hurting, because you have dreams,” Moser said, “and when they come to an end, it’s tough.”

Loyola fans will be left wondering if those were final goodbyes.

And all three — Moser, Krutwig and Williamson — will have choices to make.

Williamson and Krutwig have an extra season of eligibility, a one-time NCAA rule made because of the circumstances of competing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moser, too, will face the most perplexing fork in this career path.

Stay at Loyola? He has shown he can win there, taking two teams in four seasons to the Sweet 16, something no other team in the state or Missouri Valley Conference can claim. His motto is “Don’t run from happiness” — and there might not be a more joyful coach in America.

Or will he move on? Indiana is likely to come calling, and why shouldn’t he show he can coach in the big leagues without the stress of having to win a conference tournament to earn an NCAA Tournament berth, as he must in the typically one-bid Valley?

If all three return, Loyola is a midmajor dynasty. If they leave, especially Moser, the Ramblers still are in a better position than they were a decade ago, not quite a complete rebuild but a challenging renovation project.

Their decisions will determine Loyola’s immediate future as much as their own.

Thanks to the NCAA's Covid rule, seniors were given an extra year of eligibility. Nobody does this help more than Loyola Chicago. I realize Cameron Krutwig and Lucas Williamson are both probably looking forward to graduating in May and leaving Rogers Park but if they have a chance to run this back next season, under normal circumstances, in packed arenas, with another year under their supporting casts' belts, how do they not? 

Here's my advice, Take some extra religion classes at the Lakeshore Campus. Get your second major in Theology (never know when it could come in useful) and just coast. If you need a job this summer, I got you. Come back guns blazing in the fall, ready to make some noise. There's also no chance Moser goes anywhere if you two stay. Which is kinda a big deal. No pressure. 

Speaking of which, if Porter leaves the pressureless, cush gig he has carved out for himself at Loyola, he is a crazy person. 

Why would you go to Indiana, or another BIG10 school where they will just chew you up, and spit you out. Sure you'll get paid handsomely but why not stay in the MVC, win it 3 out of every 4 years, punching your ticket to the dance, and turn Loyola into a mid major powerhouse? If it's a money thing I have absolutely no problem turning into Happy from Blue Chips to support the program. Just say the word.

In all seriousness though, it really sucked watching this team play their worst half of basketball all season in the first half against Oregon State. 

Oregon State started out flat as well, maybe it was nerves, maybe it was the two teams figuring each other out at the start, like two middleweights testing one another with jabs. But it was ugly, ugly basketball and Oregon State got it going before Loyola seemed to wake up. 

Going 5-23 from three is fucking abysmal and it's a true testament to how good this team was, and how much heart they had that they were even in this game in the final 5 minutes. They literally shot themselves out of this game.

Not to take anything away from Oregon State though. That team is fucking good. They "Loyola'd" Loyola. Beating them at their own game, shutting them down on defense, forcing them into terrible, rushed shots as the shot clock expired. Really fucking impressive stuff. Anytime Moser gets outcoached says a lot, and Wayne Tinkle (HOF name) did just that for the first 30 minutes of that game. 

Tinkle realized Loyola saw a zone defense just once this season, and deployed his beautifully. Shutting down Loyola's pick and roll, and backdoor cuts left them looking confused and scattered.

Moser ran some awful units on the floor, trying to get something, anything going. But going small, and relying on that Kaifes kid to chuck up off-balanced threes when you're already down 8-10 just buried them deeper. A 16 point first-half performance, (worst of the season) is not how you want to come out in the sweet sixteen.

And the free-throws. 17 of 24 but brutal down the stretch more importantly. Doesn't help when Oregon State stuck 18 of 20 of their own. 

Loyola's Achilles heel coming into this season ended up also doing them in in this game. 

Also, Ethan Thompson is a fucking stud. He was rock solid in this game and his two clutch free throws at the end were daggers. Loved watching him play this tournament. 

Krut played his ass off and singlehandedly kept this team from getting blown out in the first half. By the time his teammates worked out the kinks halfway through the second half it was too late. 

Really disappointing end to an incredible season. Hopefully not the end of the run altogether. 

The state of Illinois needs a team it can rely on to show up every year hold it down.