Loyola Hoops

Loyola Hoops

For many, the start of the Fall signals the return of some of the nation’s most popular sports. Specifically college and professional football. I am not one of those many. In fact, I think I’m one of the few. Because, for me, the start of Fall means that basketball season is right around the corner.

I follow the professional and college game very closely. I think of most my friends and family members would say my following borders on “obsessive.” On the NBA side, I keep keen track of my beloved, Sacramento Kings. On the college end, I keep keep very, very close track of my alma mater, The Loyola Ramblers!

As I student I made it a point to attend as many basketball games as I could. This was easy since admittance to most games was free for students. For a couple hours each week, I would go to the games to temporarily escape the constant cycle of homework and classes.

Now, as a graduate and an employee of the university, I still make it a point to attend every game I can. This time around I’m attending the games as a season ticket holder (I felt real cool typing that).

Its an exciting time to root for the Ramblers. The university has recently renovated the training facilities for all it’s student athletes with the completion of the gorgeous, The Norville Center. In addition to building The Norville Center, Loyola also overhauled the interior of our basketball arena on campus, The Gentile Arena. The renovations created true stadium seating and reworked the nice, intimate setting already instilled in the bulding. The new Gentile Arena is a fantastic place to catch a game. Both facilities, which are connected, are truly impressive.

The Ramblers are poised to have a great season (full schedule here). The team will be taking on some great opponents. As usual, we’ll play Horizon League rivals, Valparaiso and UIC. We’ll also face, perennial basketball powerhouse, Michigan State in East Lansing. I think there’s one game that stands out from the rest, one with Mississippi State.

Why is this game so important?

Well, 2013 marks 50 year anniversary of when Loyola won the NCAA Basketball Championship. On the way to the championship game, Loyola had to face Mississippi State. A school that, at the time, was not allowed to play racially integrated teams. From Loyola’s Athletic Website:

“Its second-round opponent, Mississippi State, was a late addition because sports programs representing Mississippi schools were not allowed to play integrated teams. Coach Babe McCarthy stole his team to the tournament under the cover of darkness before an injunction could be served prohibiting the Maroons from playing the Ramblers. Loyola won the historic contest, 61-51, with a 20-point effort by All-America forward Jerry Harkness. That contest would prove to be a landmark event in the civil rights movement.”

Pretty cool right?

If you can’t tell, I’m looking forward to the season. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about hoops as the year progresses. Until then, I’m literally counting down the days until tip-off.

All photos from Loyola’s Flickr Page

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