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Dancin’ on Saturday: Hoops & Pucks

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Kudos if you can guess Best Game of Day before reading.

OK then, getting in touch with my inner Paul Harvey, here’s the Rest of the Story.

The it’s-probably-interesting-only-to-me tale of my ‘63 Loyola championship t-shirt, come and gone and coming again, sigh, later rather than sooner.

Yeah, I jump on the touch the hem of Sister Jean’s Rambler letter jacket as much as the next hoopaholic. But my affection for the maroon and gold is legit, and long-lived. The Professor and I were in the Hall when the underdog Ramblers bested reigning two-time national champ Cincy for the crown.

So, sometime years ago, surfing the interweb, looking for some garment to purchase I didn’t really need, I came across the maroon and gold beauty. All the better that I’d be able to lord it over my fellow hoopaholics at our next meeting.

At some point, I gave it away. Much to my chagrin this post season, when the lads from the Second City turned out to be the Darlings of the Dance.

I’d forgotten to whom I’d passed it along. Until last Monday, when I got a text from my pal, a Loyola grad, to whom I’d bestowed it. He included a photo. “You’re killin’ me here,” I responded.

Then I culled the Google for a duplicate, hopefully to arrive in time for Saturday’s Round of 16. Nuttn’ honey.

(Stick with me sports fans, I’ll get to the real stuff in just a sec. Bear with me. I need to vent.)

Friday morning I made one last attempt, finally remembering the cool site Homage.com, where I’d bought it. I immediately pulled out the plastic and purchased. Paying the extra tariff for “overnight delivery” so I’d be adorned in it for Saturday afternoon’s tip.

Fortunately, it’s not hung up in the Suez on the Ever Given. But, on Fridays, Fed Ex “overnight delivery” means Monday by 8:00 pm.

Soooooooo, that long-winded, totally-nobody-other-than-me-really- cares tale, and the delay involved is why I feel a smidge of responsibility for the Ramblers failure to advance.

As if.

* * * * *

The real reason, of course, is that Wayne Tinkle and his staff concocted a masterful rarely used mash up of a zone that totally bamboozled the Ramblers. The Beavers’ crafty coach learned that Loyola had faced but a 100 or so possessions of zone all season.

Flavor of the Month Porter Moser and his charges weren’t able to adjust, never finding a rhythm. They hit only 33% for the game, 17% in the 1st.

So, the where-did-they-come-from, 12 seed Oregon State, at .500 in late February, is on to the Elite Eight.

Another back in the day aside. Oregon State was also in that ‘63 Final Four, led by Heisman-winner Terry Baker at PG. They fell to Cincy in the semis, and Duke in the consolation.

* * * * *

Awaiting the surprises from the Left Coast is Houston.

The Cougars are beneficiaries of the classic you-only-play-whom-you-have-to-play cliché. The bracket has parted biblically like the proverbial Red Sea for Kelvin Sampson’s lots o’ D just enough O squad.

Houston can make it to the Final Four without having to beat a single-digit seed. Cleveland State was a 15; Rutgers a 10; Syracuse an 11.

Which leads us to this phenomenological query?

The sobriquet “Phi Swarma Jama” is gaining some traction as a meme.

Legit? Uh, I suppose. But more than a bit painful for this U of L fan.

* * * * *

Nice to see the Indiana Hoosiers women make the school’s first Elite Eight with a W over 1 seed NC State.

* * * * *

The Worst Officiating Call of the Day.

Actually, the absolutely, positively most heinous and negligent of the entire post season, any gender.

Late in Arizona’s 74-59 thumping of Texas A&M, guard Shaina Pellington drove the lane. Where she took a clothesline/ forearm shiver to the mug from an Aggie big.

The refs didn’t even go to the monitor for a review. Even Debbie Antonelli, who rarely has a discouraging word about anybody, was aghast.

That A & M was sidelined was a delightful to watch comeuppance. They’d made it that far on two jive hummer Ws.

* * * * *

The Most Interesting Stat of the Day. To me, anyway.

There are 1,051 players on the 68 teams that made it to Indy.

Of those, 157 are from countries other than the U S of A. Favorite Gonzaga has five.

And these foreigners hail from 49 different countries.

Plus four unincorporated territories. Which I’d name, if I knew what they were. But I guess, they’re like those local home rule cities, you know, Rolling Hills at Brownsboro Road and Rudy Lane. But, I expect, considerably more exotic.

* * * * *

The Best Game of the Day.

Minnesota Duluth 3, North Dakota 2, in the Fargo Regional of NCAA Hockey.

In — count ‘em along with me, fans — one, two, three, four, five overtimes.

Which is just part of the amazing story. The eventual victors led 2-0 with 1:31 left in regulation. Then, the Fighting Sioux — I think they’ve kept that nickname, with the blessing of the Tribe, maybe not — pulled their goalie, and put a couple biscuits in the basket, sending the game to extras.

In the first OT, Duluth scored. But, after a big on ice celebration, had it taken away on review, because the Bulldogs, it turned out, were like a centimeter offside on the play.

Late into the night, they finally registered the game winner, and continue their quest for a third straight crown.

So, yeah, some hoopaholics don’t live by roundball alone.

But, still the real focus, on this Passover/ Palm Sunday: We got the Cardinal women at 7:00, and four more Round of 16 battles on the men’s side.

— c d kaplan