The 2017-18 Loyola men’s basketball team left fans with many memorable moments from its Final Four run. To encapsulate all of this, a glass case filled with memorabilia highlighting significant moments from last March was recently put up in the Gentile Arena atrium.
Assistant athletics director for communications Bill Behrns said several people worked together to decide what went into it and a company called The Mod Group designed the case. Behrns said one of the key points of the new case was to show how important the support from the city was to the team’s success.
“That was why the Cubs jersey ended up in there,” Behrns said. “You’ll see the photos of the Chicago skyline lit up with ‘Go Loyola!’ and some of the lights from the Hancock [Building] and the Willis Tower with the maroon and gold lights.”
Along with the Cubs jersey, there’s a Loyola basketball jersey with the notorious maroon and gold scarf draped over it. The scarf is frequently worn in the student section during games. The jersey belongs to Tykei Greene, who was supposed to be a first-year this season but left the program to attend Manhattan College.
The number on the jersey is zero, Donte Ingram’s number last season, and Behrns said he doesn’t know why his jersey isn’t in the case.
“I don’t know what the deal was with it,” Behrns said. “I don’t know if we didn’t have his jersey or what the deal was, but I know it’s a number zero jersey.”
The bottom of the case is highlighted with three trophies — one for finishing at the top of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) at the end of the regular season, another for winning the MVC Tournament and one for winning the South Region of the NCAA Tournament.
In between the Cubs and Loyola jerseys is a plaque listing the team’s remarkable regular season and tournament achievements, with everything from the overall record of 32-6 to finishing third in NCAA field goal percentage of 50.7 percent.
Moving along the line, the plate labeled “Chicago’s Team” talks about the support from the city and its professional sports teams, along with the energy from students on campus. Behrns said showing how the city rallied around the team was one of the things they wanted to capture.
“Another thing that was big was the amount of support that we got from all the teams in the city,” Behrns said. “We got tweets and all kinds of stuff from the Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls and Bears. One of the things that happened on Opening Day for the Cubs, which was the weekend of the Final Four, [the Cubs players] came out to batting practice and all the guys were wearing Loyola shirts, so it was cool to see that.”
The “Created By Culture” plaque conveys how the Final Four run was no fluke and head coach Porter Moser’s seven-year rebuild paid off. Directly underneath there’s a basketball signed by the members of the team next to a picture of the players who graduated at the end of last year.
The front page of the Sports Section from the Chicago Tribune, with the headline “Four Sure” and a picture of Ben Richardson holding up the piece of netting cut off after the team advanced to the Final Four, can be found near the top of the case.
Sister Jean became a household name during March Madness and the template dedicated to her recaps her involvement and support of the team before and throughout the tournament. It talks about how, even with her rise to international fame, Sister Jean always kept a smile on her face and excelled at her role as team chaplain.
Underneath the picture and roster of the 2017-18 team, four of the biggest moments from the tournament are highlighted — four big performances, from four different players, that kept Loyola advancing all the way to the Final Four: Donte Ingram’s game-winning 3-pointer against University of Miami in the first round; Clayton Custer’s jumper to put Loyola ahead with three seconds left against University of Tennessee in the second round; Marques Townes’ dagger 3-pointer against University of Nevada in the Sweet Sixteen; and Richardson’s 23-point effort against Kansas State University in the Elite Eight are all described in detail.
The last template, titled “The Biggest Stage,” talks about the team’s final stop in the Final Four and its professional and impressive route to that point. Last year’s tournament run put Loyola on the map, and the new case puts all the memories into one spot.