Saluki Sports Update
No press pass needed. I’ll happily pay to hear Porter Moser speak.
In the unlikely event that your TV hasn’t been working for the past couple of weeks, Moser is the head basketball coach of Loyola’s Ramblers, the darlings of the 2018 NCAA basketball tournament.
What a happening. What a story. The City of Chicago is going wild…it and everyone involved in the Missouri Valley Conference. And, that includes SIU and its athletic teams, especially coach Barry Hinson’s basketball team.
Loyola, the Valley’s regular season, as well as postseason tournament champion, has established itself as the darling of the NCAA.
And, it doesn’t matter if it ends this weekend. The Ramblers have already accomplished far more than anyone, even Sister Jean, anticipated.
Moser, who just a few years ago served as head coach at Illinois State before going to Saint Louis University as assistant to the legendary Rick Majerus, has put together one of the most fascinating teams ever at Loyola. No, make that in the Missouri Valley. Better yet…in the nation.
It’s easy to get carried away after watching the Ramblers survive one narrow win after another in this year’s NCAA tournament.
They very well may get blown away in their next outing against mighty Michigan in the Final Four. Doesn’t matter, Loyola has regained life for the little man. Not to mention team basketball.
Loyola, the MVC and its nine other members are already envisioning one of the largest paydays ever as a payoff for the Ramblers’ success.
And, you might have to stand in line for the first time in a long time to get a ticket to a basketball game at SIU when Loyola plays at SIU Arena next January, or whenever the Valley schedule-makers send them to Carbondale.
Moser’s team wiped out the Salukis 75-56 this season before a reported 6,000-plus crowd. That attendance figure may have been padded somewhat, but you can bet that next season’s report will not be falsely reported. Fans will want to see the club which will be returning many from this year’s entertaining team.
Although modern attendance records may be threatened, the all-time SIU Arena record will stand. It’s 10,014, considerably more than the present-day facility which holds just 8,339.
The all-time record is 10,301, almost 300 more than the facility held, which saw Larry Bird and his Indiana State teammates slip past SIU by a single point, 69-68. The figure was accurate.
Fans were seated in the aisles. We personally opened the doors to eight fans at halftime. Their car had been blocked in. Couldn’t move it. It was cold. We just told them to find a spot to stand…they and the almost 300 other fans without seats.
And, we had our hands slapped the next day by fire marshals for allowing a SRO crowd inside the doors. Big deal. It was a game to remember as Eldorado’s Barry Smith played Bird tough all night before the great guy made a last-second shot for the win.
Attendance records? Who cares. We just hope the game next year is as exciting and Moser speaks to a gathering of fans the night before the game.