NCAA Latest: Sister Jean mingles with Michigan cheerleaders
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Latest on the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament (all times local):
Sister Jean is the celebrity to be seen with at the Final Four.
As Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt watched her Ramblers practice in the Alamodome on Friday, plenty of people stopped by to interact and snap a picture with Loyola-Chicago’s biggest fan.
When the Loyola-Chicago open session was wrapping up and the 98-year-old nun was being pushed in her wheelchair to leave the arena floor, the Michigan cheerleaders and dance team asked if they could pose for a picture with her.
Sister Jean obliged and was surrounded by the kids in maize and blue.
When Loyola-Chicago guard Clayton Custer was in high school and going against some players being recruited by Kansas, coach Bill Self approached him after a camp game.
Self told Custer that the Jayhawks weren’t going to recruit him. But it wasn’t because the kid from Kansas wasn’t good enough.
“He told me, ‘You’re good enough to play at KU, but we’re too loaded at guard right now, and it wouldn’t make sense for you to come here,’” Custer said Friday. “I respect him 100 percent.”
Self and Custer are both in the Final Four. The 11th-seeded Ramblers play Michigan in a semifinal game, before Big 12 champion Kansas takes on Villanova.
Custer, the Missouri Valley Conference player of the year, is averaging 13.2 points and 4.2 assists per game.
The Jayhawks are led by AP All-America guard Devonte Graham, the Big 12 player of the year. He was the second consecutive Kansas guard to be the AP Big 12 player of the year, following Frank Mason from last season.
With the words “Sister Jean is in the building,’” the Day Before the Games at the Final Four is officially underway.
Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt of Loyola-Chicago kicked off a day full of interviews Friday, holding court for 15 minutes in front of a room jam packed with reporters.
The 98-year-old nun has become the sensation of March Madness, blending her words of wisdom with a superfan’s love of the Ramblers — the 11th-seeded team from Loyola-Chicago that plays Michigan on Saturday in the next step on an improbable run to the cusp of the national title.
Among Sister Jean’s pearls of wisdom: Yes, God cares about basketball, and really about the college version more than the NBA. Why? “These young players are playing for their hearts, and not for any financial assistance,” she says.
Sure, the Final Four teams are practicing in San Antonio the day before their semifinals in the NCAA Tournament.
But the biggest event on Good Friday might be a news conference with Loyola-Chicago’s own Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt.
The nun who serves as chaplain and writes scouting reports for her teams is meeting with a huge contingent of reporters as she’s become the personality of this tournament.
Players for the Ramblers, plus Michigan, Villanova and Kansas are practicing on Friday and getting used to the court where they’ll play on Saturday night for a shot at the NCAA title.
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