Loyola-Chicago is the darling of the ongoing NCAA Tournament — at least in the non-UMBC division. The Ramblers and their national sensation of a chaplain in the 98-year-old Sister Jean took the country by storm over the weekend, first with a 64-62 buzzer-beating win over Miami in the first round and then a 63-62 stunner over SEC co-champion Tennessee in the second round.
Of course, just because most of the country wasn’t aware of Loyola-Chicago’s basketball program until Thursday doesn’t mean that the Ramblers are an overnight sensation. The Ramblers had won 10 in a row and 17 of 18 entering the Tournament and are 30-5 on the year. But the program’s culture goes back even further than that.
As David Haugh details in the Chicago Tribune, Ramblers head coach Porter Moser has installed a Wall of Culture inside the team’s locker room. A disciple of the great Rick Majerus, Moser established the Wall of Culture when he arrived seven years ago.
“When I got the job and was writing down all these things I wanted to do philosophically, all these details from notes when I worked for Rick, I was like, ‘Let’s just put it up there so they see it every day and buy in,'” Moser told the paper. “This was a blank wall when I got here.”
The Wall is exactly as it sounds: packed full of sayings that mean nothing to an outsider but mean everything to those inside the program. Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Clayton Custer explains three of them below.
GET OUT OF THE MUD. “After a defensive rebound, the bigs have to win the battle in the first three steps and beat the other big guys down the floor,’’ Custer said without hesitation.
THROUGH YOU TO THE RIM. “If a guy picks up his dribble in the post, don’t jump for a shot fake — he has to go through you to get to the rim,’’ Custer said.
NEVER BE THREE IN A ROW. “You have to move to create a passing lane between me, you and the defender — don’t be three in a row,’’ Custer said.
“It’s amazing the way he has gotten us all to believe in his vision for us,” Custer said. “The big thing this year is the buy-in to his style of play. We’re selfless.”
It’s a simple idea that anyone in the country can duplicate — all it takes is a blank wall.