Jean Dolores Schmidt

In this March 15, 2018, photo, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, left, greets the Loyola Chicago basketball team as the Ramblers walk off the court after a win over Miami in a first-round game at the NCAA tournament in Dallas. Loyola Chicago is back in the tournament. And Sister Jean will be there, too. Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

CHICAGO — The NCAA tournament begins this week and Loyola Chicago once again has its sights set on a deep run.

Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt plans to be along for the ride, of course. But this time, maybe, the Ramblers can leave the glass slippers at home.

“I like to say that we’re no longer Cinderella,” star guard Lucas Williamson said. “I’d like to say that we’re one of the other people that were invited to the dance. And we’re here to stay.”

Loyola is headed to the tournament for the second year in a row and the third time in five years.

The program that captured the country’s imagination with a stunning Final Four run in 2018 and made another big push last year, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen, is back again. The Ramblers are 25-7, seeded 10th in the South region and have a date with seventh-seeded Ohio State in Pittsburgh on Friday.

“I’ve talked a lot to our team this year about how we’re in control of what we can accomplish,” said Coach Drew Valentine, in his first season. “I think that group, they really feel like they’re in control of their own destiny.”


Sister Jean plans to be there, just as she was for the Final Four march that turned the team chaplain into a celebrity.

The beloved nun was there last year in Indianapolis when her Ramblers made another big run. Loyola beat Georgia Tech at Hinkle Fieldhouse and knocked out Illinois, dominating the No. 1 seed from downstate, before losing to Oregon State.

Now 102, Sister Jean was in St. Louis this month when Loyola won the Missouri Valley tournament for the third and final time before leaving for the Atlantic 10, erasing any questions about an at-large bid to the NCAA. And she was there Sunday in Gentile Arena, in a wheelchair next to a stage where the team watched the selection show, taking notes as the field was announced.

Players and coaches jumped out of their seats and cheered when Loyola was called. Sister Jean grinned ear to ear.

“I’m just so excited,” she said. “Ohio State? We’ll take `em. We’ll work on ’em. … I believe our young men will do it.”

The only other time Loyola made back-to-back NCAA tournaments was in 1963 and 1964. The Ramblers kicked down racial doors in their first appearance, with four Black starters leading them to the only championship for an Illinois school, and they lost in the regional semifinals the following year.


Loyola also made the tournament in 1966 and 1968 before a long dry spell, with just one appearance in 1985 prior to the Final Four run.

Now, the Ramblers have five straight seasons with 20 wins or more. Former coach Porter Moser led them to national prominence before leaving for Oklahoma, and the program continues to roll along under Valentine, in his first head coaching job after four years as an assistant at Loyola.

ARIZONA: Tommy Lloyd has an unpretentious manner forged during formational years in rural southern Washington, professional years in Spokane.

Thoughts, words and decisions are measured, the emotional tides of more mercurial coaches a waste of energy to him. Credit is deflected, attention for someone else.

This outwardly easygoing nature masks an undercurrent of confidence, determination and an attention to detail that has fueled No. 2 Arizona’s accelerated ascension under its first-year coach.

“He knew what he wanted to do and came in with a plan,” Arizona associate head coach Jack Murphy said. “Every step of the way, when any of us – myself or anyone on the staff – wanted to kind of speed things up or jump steps, he was always the voice of reason and was sticking to his plan.”


The scoffing could be heard from Tucson outward when Lloyd was hired last year.

Arizona needed the right person to steer the program back into prominence after Sean Miller was fired amid FBI and NCAA investigations into questionable recruiting practices.

Lloyd had proven himself as a recruiter and top assistant, helping Mark Few create a national powerhouse in 22 years at Gonzaga. He had just never been a head coach.

Those who know basketball and Lloyd saw him as the perfect fit – and they were right.

Lloyd brought with him many of the same principles and systems that had been so successful at Gonzaga, added a few tweaks of his own and stormed through one of the best first-year seasons in college basketball history.

Unranked in the preseason and picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12, the Wildcats went 31-3 to sweep the conference regular-season and tournament titles.


Lloyd joined Indiana State’s Bill Hodges in 1979 and North Carolina’s Bill Guthridge in 1998 as the only first-year coaches to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Arizona opens the West Region on Friday in San Diego against the Wright State-Bryant winner in its bid to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2001.

BAYLOR: Kendall Brown was a five-star recruit whose dad is a former Harlem Globetrotters player. Jeremy Sochan was born in Oklahoma, grew up in England and has played basketball in Poland and Germany.

The true freshmen are now roommates at Baylor and have played significant roles in the defending national champion Bears being a No. 1 seed again and winning another Big 12 title, even with only one returning starter.

“They want to win and they’re high-level athletes, and high-level people as well,” said second-team All-Big 12 guard Adam Flagler, who is a starter this season after coming off the bench in 28 games last season. “We kind of expected that over time they would get to this point, and they have so much more to show.”

Brown and Sochan will be on the biggest stage, the NCAA tournament, with the fourth-ranked Bears trying to become the first team to win back-to-back national championships since Florida in 2006 and 2007.


“Just getting here with all the new guys, a lot of great pieces and starting off really hot, and we just kept going, and now our expectations are set for a back-to-back,” said Brown, whose dad, Courtney “The Iceman” Brown, was a member of the Globetrotters from 1990-94.

The Bears (26-6) have to travel fewer than 100 miles for their first-round NCAA East Region game Thursday against Norfolk State in Fort Worth, Texas.

Sochan watched the end of Baylor’s national championship victory over Gonzaga in April – it was about 4 a.m. in Germany. He had already signed with the Bears, and knew there would be significant roster turnover.

“I came in with a growth mindset and the mindset to work hard and see what happens,” Sochan said. “I’ve always felt I could come into a team and impact from the start. So I did really expect that, and that’s what the outcome has been fortunately.”

Senior post Flo Thamba and Brown are the only players who have played (and started) every game this season, with the 6-foot-8 Brown averaging 10 points and 4.9 rebounds a game, shooting 59.5% from the field. Thamba was the only returning starter from the title team that featured the talented trio of selfless guards All-American Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague.

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