Nick Knacks

Column: Help Us, Loyola Ramblers. You’re Our Only Hope.

Alanna Demetrius | The PhoenixTate Hall and Bruno Skokna scramble for the ball against UC Davis Nov. 5.

Remember when the Bears were supposed to be contenders for the Super Bowl? Or how the Bulls and the Blackhawks were talking about making the playoffs?

Simpler times, man.

As we sit here now, the Bears have lost four straight games, the Bulls look like they’ve never played basketball after losing to two bad teams in the New York Knicks and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Blackhawks don’t know how to play defense or kill a penalty.

Lucky for you, I’ve taken it upon myself to find the silver lining in this travesty that is Chicago sports. Two words: College basketball.

Yes, college basketball’s back. It’s so great. Everyone else sucks in this town. We need a break from yelling at our TVs.

And the Loyola men’s basketball team could be our only hope. 

Alanna Demetrius | The PhoenixLoyola junior center Cameron Krutwig scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished 11 assists in Loyola’s season-opening victory over UC Davis Nov. 5.

Who’d have thought a team that lost to a Division II school last week could become the best team in town this soon? That loss — which came at the hands of University of Indianapolis — put a sour taste in almost everyone’s mouths. No one went home happy after that one. 

But the Ramblers dominated University of California, Davis 82-48 at Gentile Arena Nov. 5 to restore hope in a team that looked so bad against Indianapolis. They looked like the Ramblers of old, even despite carrying a revamped roster with several new faces. The Big Fella, Cameron Krutwig, almost had a triple-double as he scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished 11 assists. Three other players had double-digit points. They looked like the Ramblers we came to know and love in 2017-18.

Finally, a team depressed Chicago sports fans can watch to forget how bad everyone else is.

For the next four months, Chicago will actually have teams to cheer for. Loyola might not make a run at the Missouri Valley Conference title after being picked fourth in the preseason poll, but it’ll be much more entertaining to watch decent basketball than whatever garbage the Bulls are playing at the United Center.

You don’t realize how much you miss college basketball until you get stuck watching really bad professional teams. There’s a charm to it you can’t find in the NBA, NFL or NHL. The players actually try — which is more than we can say for most NBA players.

Neil Beran | The PhoenixLoyola first-year guard Marquise Kennedy throws down a dunk against Indianapolis.

Instead of hearing about how Mitch Trubisky can’t throw a pass, we can finally hear about how great of a passer Krutwig is. Instead of hearing about how Zach LaVine can’t play defense, we can rave about how great of a defender Lucas Williamson is. Instead of talking about how the Blackhawks’ glory days might be behind them, we can talk about how promising Loyola’s future looks — which I wrote in this space a few weeks ago.

I should add a disclaimer here. Loyola’s not the only Chicago college basketball team that’s supposed to be decent. University of Illinois at Chicago was picked to finish third out of 10 teams in the Horizon League preseason poll and even picked up a first place vote. 

Between the Flames and the Ramblers, college basketball could be more exciting than any other major sport in town. Now, if only they played each other this year. But that’s another story.

 It’s hard to watch the Bulls struggle on the court. It’s even harder to watch the Blackhawks constantly turn the puck over. Don’t even start about watching the Bears’ offense. It’s college basketball’s time to shine in this great city.

Oh, college basketball. I’ve missed you so much.

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