The Phoenix’s Year in Review: 2020 in Sports

Zack Miller | The PhoenixPorter Moser watches on as his squad loses to Valparaiso University 74-73 in overtime at Arch Madness in March 2020.

‘It’s Serious Business’: The Science of Porter Moser’s Iconic Jacket Toss (Jan. 22)

Abby Schnable

Nick Schultz | The Phoenix Loyola men’s basketball coach Porter Moser takes off his jacket after first-year Marquise Kennedy fouls SIU guard Ronnie Suggs.

It’s not unique to Porter Moser, but the “jacket toss” has become something of a trademark at Loyola basketball games, getting mentioned during TV broadcasts and on Twitter accounts.

Moser’s jacket toss – which often occurs at the more intense points of Rambler games – has gained an almost myth-like status in Rambler fanhood, but there’s science behind that myth.

Loyola professors had multiple theories as to why the jacket came off: one said it could be a bodily response, another said it’s a subconscious response to emotions. One also said the distance the jacket travels could also show Moser’s anger level. 

‘Mamba Forever and Mambacita Forever’: Loyola Athletes, Students and Coaches React to NBA Legend Kobe Bryant’s Sudden Death (Jan. 29)

Nick Schultz and Kyle Brown

Keith Allison | Flickr Kobe Bryant was one of nine victims who died in a plane crash Jan. 26.

The sports world mourned the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others as a result of a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California Jan. 26. Bryant, who won five NBA championships during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers from 1996-2016, left an impact on millions of fans before his death at 41. Bryant was also an 18-time NBA All-Star and won two Olympic gold medals in basketball playing for the United States.

Students reflected on the shock of Bryant’s passing, former Loyola men’s basketball player Clayton Custer talked about meeting the basketball icon and fellow former Rambler Milton Doyle — a father of three — touched on how precious life and family are.

Marquise Kennedy Wins MVC Sixth Man of the Year (March 3)

Nick Schultz

Nick Schultz | The Phoenix Loyola first-year guard Marquise Kennedy calls out a play against Evansville at Gentile Arena Jan. 11.

Loyola first-year guard Marquise Kennedy was named the MVC Sixth Man of the Year and to the MVC All-Freshman team. Primarily coming off the bench, Kennedy averaged 9.3 points for the Ramblers during the regular season last year.

Loyola junior center Cameron Krutwig was named to the first team All-MVC and came in second in the MVC Player of the Year voting. The Ramblers’ redshirt junior guard Tate Hall was named to the third team All-MVC and the MVC All-Newcomer Team.

‘It’s Been Our Achilles Heel All Year’: Free Throws Doom Loyola in Season-Ending, Overtime Loss to Valparaiso at Arch Madness (March 6)

Nick Schultz and Kyle Brown

Zack Miller | The Phoenix Porter Moser watches on as his squad loses to Valparaiso University 74-73 in overtime at Arch Madness in 2020.

The Loyola men’s basketball team earned the No. 2 seed in the MVC Tournament, but suffered a 74-73 loss to No. 7-seeded Valparaiso University after leading by as much as 18 points in the second half. Loyola head coach Porter Moser blamed the loss on free throw shooting, calling it the Ramblers’ “Achilles heel.” 

Loyola shot 14-for-27 from the free throw line in the season-ending loss to the Crusaders. Over the entire season, the Ramblers ranked last in the MVC in free throw shooting, connecting 65 percent of their attempts – the worst mark by an MVC team since 2012-13. Illinois State University was the next lowest, shooting 71.1 percent from the charity stripe last season.

Loyola Cancels Spring Sports Due to Coronavirus Concerns (March 12)

Nick Schultz

Harry Soenksen | The Phoenix Loyola’s fall sports were postponed. The plan is to play those sports during the spring 2021 season.

Loyola Athletics announced the cancellation of spring sports due to COVID-19 concerns March 12. This came the same day Loyola announced it would be transitioning to online classes for the remainder of the semester. 

At this point, the NCAA had already decided to cancel winter and spring sports tournaments — including March Madness. Loyola also cancelled the women’s basketball tournament in Moline, Ill. The MVC would not cancel the season for the entire conference until later on.

COLUMN: ‘As a Female Sports Journalist Entering the Field in a Year, the Post Story is so Scary’ (July 17)

Abby Schnable

Nick Schultz | The Phoenix Phoenix assistant sports editor Abby Schnable covered the 2017-18 Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament March 7-10.

The Washington Post published an article on July 16 detailing former Washington Redskins employee Emily Applegate’s allegations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse from people within the organization. Applegate is one of 15 former female Redskins employees who told The Post they were sexually harassed during their time at the club, according to the article. 

Sports Editor Abby Schnable discusses her fears and talks to other women in sports journalism about the implications of sexual harassment within the workplace.

MVC Postpones Fall Sports (Aug. 16)

Kyle Brown

Harry Soenksen | The Phoenix The MVC announced Aug. 14 that all fall sports will be postponed.

The MVC announced Aug. 14 it was postponing fall sports due to COVID-19. This decision came after the coronavirus caused the cancellation of the spring 2020 seasons. 

Currently, the plan is for the postponed fall sports to take place in spring 2021. The Loyola women’s volleyball team is the only fall sport that has released a schedule at the time of publication. The Ramblers are scheduled to start conference play Feb. 7 on the road against Southern Illinois University.

Sister Jean Turns 101: ‘God Must Have More Work for Me to Do’ (Aug. 19)

Mary Chappell

Hanako Maki | The Phoenix Sister Jean, pictured at the NCAA Tournament in March 2018, is set to turn 101 Aug. 21.

Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, BVM, Loyola’s men’s basketball chaplain, celebrated her 101st birthday Aug. 21. Although she rose to international fame during Loyola’s 2018 NCAA run, Sister Jean had already been part of the Loyola community for decades, teaching at the neighboring Mundelein College until it merged with Loyola in 1991.

Loyola men’s basketball coach Porter Moser said her mindset of “positivity” and “purpose” has kept her youthful. Sister Jean said it’s because she loves what she does. 

NCAA Announces Men’s and Women’s Basketball Start Date (Sept. 18)

Kyle Brown

Nick Schultz | The Phoenix Loyola junior guard Lucas Williamson reacts after a big steal against Missouri State at Gentile Arena Jan. 4. Williamson was named to the MVC All-Defensive Team and Cameron Krutwig (left) received first team All-MVC honors March 3.

The NCAA announced college basketball would return Nov. 25 in a press release Sept. 16. The release said this start date would reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread due to “at least three-quarters” of Division I schools finishing semesters or moving online for the remainder of the semester.

With a new start date also came the release of new rules. Teams were allowed to begin a “transition practice period” Sept. 21 with preseason practices beginning Oct. 14. As for the season itself, the maximum number of games for the regular season and multi-team events were reduced for both men’s and women’s teams due to COVID-19 safety concerns. 

‘He’s Special’: Athlete Juggles Track and Med School (Oct. 7)

Kyle Brown

Steve Woltmann | Loyola Athletics Derek Rink (middle) also ran cross country for Loyola but used all four years of his eligbility.

Loyola senior distance runner Derek Rink was set to cap off his collegiate running career in spring 2020 until the outdoor track and field season was canceled due to COVID-19. After thinking his time competing had come to an end, Rink applied to medical school at Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine. Then, the NCAA offered an extra year of eligibility to spring student-athletes who had their seasons cut short. Rink made the decision to balance both running for Loyola and attending medical school. Rink said he prioritizes his school work and views running as a “privilege.”

‘Majority’ of Loyola Men’s Basketball Team Tests Positive for COVID-19, Athletics Department on ‘Pause’ (Nov. 18)

Kyle Brown

Nick Schultz | The Phoenix Loyola athletics director Steve Watson (left) pictured with Loyola men’s basketball head coach Porter Moser.

The Loyola men’s basketball team announced Nov. 16 it had stopped all team activities due to COVID-19. Two days later, The Phoenix learned the “majority” of the team had contracted the virus. Loyola Athletics Director Steve Watson said the entire athletics department had gone on pause, but wouldn’t go into detail about any specific team. The men’s basketball team played its first game Dec. 5 against Lewis University. At the time of publication, the Ramblers have a 6-2 record.

MVC Basketball Switches Schedule to Increase Safety of Teams (Nov. 20)

Abby Schnable

Zack Miller | The Phoenix Members of the Loyola men’s basketball team sit on the bench during Arch Madness.

The MVC Presidents Council announced Nov. 20 there would be changes to the men’s and women’s basketball seasons to prioritize health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Although the season will still be in an 18-game format, the new schedule would significantly reduce travel. Most teams would play each other in a two-game series on back-to-back days at the same site, play four road series and four home series and also have a designated other team as a travel partner.

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