BRESLIN CENTER — Today’s game begins an historically significant week, commemorating the 1963 Mideast Regional game between Loyola of Chicago and Mississippi.
Next week’s events at Jenison Field House, the site of the game 50 years ago, are an opportunity for reflection, education and, to some degree, celebration.
We’ll have much more on the game, its lasting impact and MSU’s role as a haven for black athletes, in Sunday’s Lansing State Journal.
While Jerry Harkness, the star of the 1963 team, is the name most associated with Loyola Ramblers basketball, my favorite college basketball player of all time, David Bailey, starred there a decade ago.
In fact, in a 30-point loss to MSU in 2000-01 on Loyola’s campus, Bailey lit up Charlie Bell for 25 points (He lit up everyone for a couple years). The diminutive point guard (5-foot-6, maybe) was like Barry Sanders on a basketball court, dancing between defenders with the basketball, and, a year later, nearly led Loyola to the 2002 NCAA tournament.
He was one of those last-cut NBA guys who spent his professional career mostly in the top European Leagues. And another one of many small point guards overlooked by major programs. Michigan, for example, backed off his recruitment. He would have been the Wolverines best player of that era. It’s strange how biased big-time coaches are against little point guards. If Bruce Weber had simply offered Ohio University star and Chicago native D.J. Cooper a scholarship, he’d still have his job with the Illini.
I don’t see this game as being close. Loyola has a few nice players, including Ben Averkamp inside and Iowa transfer Cully Payne at point guard, but isn’t the sort of mid-major team capable of upsetting a healthy MSU team on its home floor. The Ramblers have a nice freshman class, too, but we’re not talking immediate high-major impact kids.
For updates and both witty and dumbfounding commentary on today’s game, follow me and colleague Joe Rexrode on twitter at @graham_couch and @joerexrode.
I’ll have more here later.