Rambling to the Final Four: A test for Clayton and the Ramblers – literally and figuratively

Loyola guard Clayton Custer puts up a shot during the Ramblers' practice at Gentile Arena on March 27th.

CHICAGO – Certainly the reigning Most Valuable Player of the Missouri Valley Conference is proving Porter Moser right in one respect: He does have a true group of student-athletes.

Clayton Custer showed that on Tuesday during Loyola’s pre-Final Four news conference for the Chicago media at Gentile Arena. He was asked about Michigan, the Ramblers’ upcoming opponent in the National Semifinal in San Antonio on Saturday, along with playing in a dome for the first time in his career.

But the most interesting answer dealt with a class – and a major “test” for him on Tuesday morning.

“I took a test today, which was tough,” said Custer, who took it for his strategic management course.

So how does he think he performed on that stage?

“I think I probably did OK,” said Custer. “I studied last night, I was at the library last night.”

This exam came just three days after he passed the biggest one of his basketball career in helping the Ramblers to an Elite Eight win over Kansas State for their first Final Four berth in 55 years. It’s made this group of unknowns stars around the nation, but most importantly in Rogers Park.

“It’s really cool to go to class and just see how excited everybody is,” said Custer. “I remember what it was like at Loyola when no one was excited at all about basketball. So it’s been really cool.”

It’s also something very new, too.

This is a program, as Custer said, that didn’t generate a lot of attention during the Porter Moser era until the 2017-2018 season. The team didn’t have their first sellout at Gentile Arena until the last game of the season and many on Loyola’s campus have just gotten to know the team since they clinched a spot in the tournament with an MVC Tournament win on March 4th.

Rallies, greetings from students, interviews with national outlets are certainly out of the ordinary and somewhat have to be handled with care.

Yet one of the younger standouts for the Ramblers, freshman forward Cameron Krutwig, doesn’t seem worried about it. For him, the initial excitement has come and gone, with the business ahead dominating the thoughts of the team.

“The night of, when we won, that was pretty unbelievable, pretty incredible Once yesterday hit we were kinda focused on what we need to do to beat Michigan, what we need to do to get better and keep this thing going.”

Safe to say that everyone he and Custer pass on the way to class this week will pay close attention, including his strategic marketing professor

“I hope he takes it easy on me on the grades,” said Custer jokingly of the test he took on Tuesday. “But I don’t know if he’s going to do that.”

Nor would he expect him to. The student-athlete term indeed fits this latest NCAA Tournament upstart.