Who picks the harmonica as their go-to musical instrument? Cameron Krutwig does. One of many nation’s most completed large males — the senior centerpiece to Twenty second-ranked Loyola Chicago’s 17-3 season — cannot cease blowing his harp.
“It brings folks collectively,” the 6-foot-9 Krutwig says. “I feel the harmonica is the one biggest instrument of all time. It is so little, so versatile. It is simply humorous.”
Huge man, tiny instrument. So yeah, the visible’s one thing of a gag.
“I am not a very good singer,” Krutwig says. “Under no circumstances. However I am a PERFORMER.”
We’re chatting on a Monday, one in all his two days off through the week. No courses, and on this present day, no observe. Simply hang around, play some tunes, and some video video games with buds from highschool.
“I am type of a go-with-the-flow man,” Krutwig says with that accent proper out of Algonquin, Illinois.
The mustachioed maestro has one other objective: to make it again to the largest stage in faculty basketball … and perhaps develop into the subsequent John Popper. Really that is a lie. Krutwig doesn’t even know who John Popper — a person who popularized the harmonica in pop music as a lot as anybody ever — is.
“You ever hearken to Blues Traveler?” I ask.
He proudly spouts again: “I do know the blues a bit.”
The person accommodates multitudes, and it is simple to see how he is such a lovable teammate.
The 22-year-old is unabashedly a throwback — each in basketball recreation and musical style. Krut, as he is referred to as, has a three-man group textual content with the crew’s sports activities data director and power coach whereby they’ve weekly themed chitchat with hyperlinks and callbacks to artists of yore. The Bee Gees, Corridor & Oates, Tears for Fears, Phil Collins, and so on. Krutwig claims Corridor & Oates’ “Maneater” is, and I do very a lot quote: “Top-of-the-line songs of all time.”
This leisurely musical pursuit began two years in the past when he performed a joke on his teammate, walk-on Will Alcock. Krutwig signed Alcock up for a expertise present. He broke the information over breakfast; the present was that day. So Alcock sang Andre Bocelli’s “Por Ti Volaré,” a music in any other case identified to many because the one Will Ferrell performs on the finish of “Step Brothers.” Alcock received the expertise present.
Recently the 2 have been constructing out some musical tapestries, which is to say they have been taking from Krutwig’s favourite songs from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and are purely seeking to jam, man. Alcock performs alto saxophone. Simply a few fellas hoping to sway some hearts alongside the way in which, you recognize? Krutwig is glowing about his bandmate. You’ll be able to’t faux this sort of admiration: “He has a saxophone he performs and is definitely not dangerous.”
Technically they don’t seem to be a band. It is a traditional faculty section, solely this one incorporates a 255-pound man holding a three-ounce mouth organ and stars on the aspect for what’s statistically among the best mid-major groups of the previous decade.
“I can do it — OK, I ought to say I can do it slightly bit,” Krutwig says. “Typically the notes come out slightly incorrect, however I can blow two notes without delay. It sounds good. If I play the songs and play the harmonica over it, so the music drowns out my errors, you’d suppose I used to be taking part in it. We have been doing slightly observe. Just a little ‘Piano Man,’ slightly ‘Careless Whisper.’ (Will) is aware of whats he is doing. It was a session.”
CBS Sports activities was unable to acquire audio of Krutwig and Alcock’s stylings. We’re taking him at his phrase and the phrase of assistant coach Drew Valentine.
“I’ve heard the harmonica,” Valentine stated. “On the bus, after a crew meal. He’ll simply pull it out and everybody will begin dying laughing. It is humorous as hell, to be trustworthy. He is making an attempt to do probably the most he can. Think about somebody making an attempt to shred a guitar solo. The physique contortion, transferring round like that, think about that. However with a harmonica.”
Subsequent up: The Beatles. “Love Me Do.” That’ll have to attend, as a result of now we should get to the basketball. On Saturday and Sunday 19-1 Drake will host Krutwig and the Ramblers in what is the largest regular-season occasion within the Missouri Valley in years. The groups are a mixed 36-4, each have been ranked this season and each are on the bubble. Krutwig (a four-year starter) and Lucas Williamson are the one gamers remaining from that ’18 fairytale Closing 4 squad. The harmonica fanatic with a penchant for a few of the most badass backdoor passes you’ve got ever seen claims this yr’s crew is unquestionably higher than the 2018 group.
“I feel we have got extra expertise this yr, actually,” Krutwig stated. “These guys weren’t menacing. These guys had been 6-1 level guards, 6-2. Now we have got much more physicality, we type of look the half. My freshman yr we had been nice however groups underestimated us.”
That 2018 crew did not have somebody like Marquise Kennedy, a high-level athlete who offers this Ramblers group an assault mode that is allowed it to win 17 out of 20 video games and attain No. 14 in KenPom. For comparability, the crew that made the Closing 4 completed thirtieth. It is a higher crew, and it begins with Krut within the center. He is as snug in his fashion and character as any participant you may discover in faculty basketball. A diehard Chicago Bears fan, Krutwig’s go-to transfer is to scream “LET’S GO BEARS!” on the high of his lungs each time the crew bus has passes Soldier Discipline whereas heading down Lake Shore Drive.
“He is true to himself and he is assured in who he’s, he would not attempt to be something he isn’t with the selections he makes on the courtroom, off the courtroom,” Valentine stated.
For all of the enjoyable, he is additionally a pure and cozy chief. Valentine stated his calming presence, his confidence, his convictions in every kind of recreation conditions have enabled this crew to achieve success and crest again to the nationwide relevance it shockingly waltzed into virtually three years in the past. Loyola Chicago is holding crew’s to 56.3 factors on common, the bottom quantity in faculty hoops. The Ramblers have received 10 straight; it is their finest begin by 20 video games since 1965-66 (three seasons after profitable the nationwide title).
Krutwig (15.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.9 apg, 60.4% capturing) has already made Valley historical past. The 2-time First Group All-MVC choice is well on his method to incomes that honor once more, and he is one in all 4 gamers in Valley historical past to tally at the least 1,500 factors, 800 rebounds and 300 assists. Two of the opposite three are among the many 15 finest gamers within the historical past of the game (Larry Hen, Oscar Robertson) and the opposite is likely one of the finest mid-major gamers in historical past (Hersey Hawkins). And should you suppose that is nice, wait till you hear him blast a solo in B-flat from the again of the crew bus.
Michigan‘s first recreation in three-plus weeks this weekend
When No. 3 Michigan suggestions off Sunday at No. 21 Wisconsin it will likely be the Wolverines’ first recreation since Jan. 22. And but this complete time Michigan’s crew hasn’t had one constructive check. The Wolverines’ pause got here as a part of an overarching freeze of all athletic division exercise in mild of the UK variant of the coronavirus surfacing on the college and throughout the athletic division.
Michigan ended its shelter-in-place protocol Monday; the crew has been working towards this week prematurely of the Wisconsin recreation, however as a result of the gamers weren’t within the fitness center for greater than two weeks the scheduled midweek matchup vs. Illinois was postponed. This left Illinois followers aggravated (Illini are rolling) however the actuality is crew medical doctors aren’t going to clear gamers to compete in video games with out ample ramp-up time.
Amid the crew’s return from pause, I caught up with Michigan affiliate head coach Phil Martelli, who detailed what’s it has been like for the coaches and gamers to halt within the midst of such a very good season.
“Personally, I do get stir-crazy,” Martelli stated. “You are stir-crazy your self however unnerved about how these guys are going to deal with isolation and I feel the psychological well being factor, I feel we’re seeing it play out. I feel some groups cannot get there mentally after sitting out.”
Martelli lives in a apartment by himself 10 minutes from Michigan’s campus. For 2 weeks the one time he left his residence was to get examined, or for the one-hour every day allowance he had to make use of the health space in his dwelling complicated. Martelli stated head coach Juwan Howard has been diligent and profitable in retaining the gamers related and engaged. Nonetheless, this is likely one of the finest groups within the sport and it has been caught on this interlude. Who is aware of what Michigan will appear to be as soon as it returns? Earlier than shelter-in-place was lifted, gamers had been allowed outdoors one hour every day to train. When the lockdown was introduced the crew was allowed to snag exercise bands, free weights and balancing pads from the power to convey again to their residences.
“They’re at the least doing a little conditioning, some health,” Martelli stated. “I would not say it is excessive anxiousness, however you are actually anxious to get again, and then you definately determine the place we had been at. We had been taking part in very well. There isn’t any sense of despair or hopelessness.”
To assist fight any lag, Martelli reached out to coaches at Richmond, Villanova, Clemson and others about their course of and the way they dealt with issues as soon as they returned to observe. However as he talked by this, we weaved right into a dialog concerning the nature of this season and the place different groups are proper now, on pause in February, and the way it may understandably wind up being an excessive amount of for some to proceed on with for much longer.
“The most important factor for me is it is unnerving due to the psychological well being facet,” Martelli stated. “A child sitting in a room by himself and what is going on by his head and what would tempt him to pack his automobile and say, ‘I am going residence.’ … Within the deep recesses of my thoughts I will say, ‘What are we doing right here?’ I do know we’re making an attempt to get to March and I consider we’ll get there in some type or vogue.”
Martelli additionally questioned if we’ll see groups decide to not decide to taking part in of their league tournaments — each actually good and actually dangerous ones.
“I learn one thing concerning the basketball committee or commissioners placing out to groups: this is our structure, you may’t simply ignore the structure by not taking part in,” he stated. “I do not know what meaning, I do not know if there’s penalties … but when there is a last-place crew, what are they getting out of this?”
The one three groups with schedules untouched by COVID-19
We have lower than a month remaining to seek out out if any of the 346 groups which have performed this season can wind up ending their schedule and not using a single postponement or cancellation. Simply three colleges stay which have been fortunate sufficient to not have a COVID-19 case inside their program to this point this season and have additionally not needed to alter one recreation.
“Scared to say it,” Louisiana Tech coach Eric Konkol texted this week. “Do not need to jinx it!”
Is it potential to precisely calculate the percentages of a crew going a whole season — with postponements or cancellations taking place every day in a universe of virtually 350 groups — and never be troubled? Sarcastically it isn’t one of many three groups above that leads the nation in complete video games at this level. It is Oakland at 23. The Grizzlies technically do not qualify as a result of their schedule was modified as soon as, although they’ve performed each scheduled opponent so far.
“One league weekend was modified, because the crew we had been purported to play bought COVID, however so did one other crew within the league, so we performed the crew that was free additionally,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe instructed me. “I performed 5 video games within the first seven days of the season as a result of I knew there can be points.”
Kampe, who had COVID-19 final summer season, managed to usher in practically $400,000 in buy-game cash due to taking part in Xavier, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma State and Purdue on the street. The Grizzlies have 4 extra video games to go earlier than hitting the utmost of 27 common season video games allowed this season.
The other finish of that is dire, as you’d anticipate. Howard canceled the remainder of its season on Tuesday, packing up with a 1-4 document after not having performed a recreation since Dec. 18. It might not shock me to see a number of extra groups resolve to do the identical earlier than the tip of February. And as for the crew with the fewest video games to this point, it is American College (4). There are nonetheless 24 groups but to play greater than 9 video games. The typical crew has performed 15.1 video games at this level.
Put Tom Konchalski within the Corridor of Fame
We should pay tribute right here to the nice Tom Konchalski. The basketball world misplaced one in all its most gracious and kindhearted males. Nicknamed “the Glider,” Konchalski modified the lives of hundreds of individuals in his 40-plus years scouting highschool basketball gamers.
Except you’re a diehard of the game or are somebody who has performed, coached or lined faculty basketball, likelihood is you did not know the title Tom Konchalski till the previous few days. When information was shared final week that Konchalski, 74, was being moved to hospice, folks all through the basketball world took to social media to share their nicely needs and tributes. When information of his dying got here on Monday, the tributes and a waterfall of phrases in his honor poured out tenfold.
Konchalski was identified for his impeccable work ethic, aversion to expertise, unfailingly trustworthy demeanor, long-lasting handshake and — at the least for me — his eye contact. I am undecided I ever met somebody who appeared you instantly within the eye each second he spoke to you or once you had been talking to him. You had undivided consideration if he engaged you in dialog. And also you needed to be in dialog with Konchalski. It meant you had been within the presence of somebody who, strive as he would possibly, tried to present extra respect than he ever requested for. However that was unattainable. Konchalski was way back dubbed “the one trustworthy man within the fitness center” and there are hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of coaches, gamers and media this week who’re mourning his passing. The historical past of males’s basketball scouting within the grassroots world has a number of bona fide dons: Sonny Vaccaro, Howard Garfinkel and Tom Konchalski lead that listing.
As coincidence would have it, Garfinkel and Konchalski’s names are up for first-time consideration to the Naismith Memorial Corridor of Fame this yr. Each deserve haste inclusion. They had been those who noticed the expertise, pretty, and objectively helped domesticate and determine it for many years. Corridor of Fame basketball figures are eternally of their debt — and those self same folks ought to get to name Garfinkel and Konchalski their brethren forevermore as quickly as potential.
Every week I spotlight reader questions, so discover me on Twitter and @ me with no matter!
Nobody crew’s outcomes exist in a vacuum so that is an unattainable query to reply as of at the moment. That stated, I do suppose there’s an opportunity an Indiana or Maryland may end simply two video games above .500 and poke by and make the First 4. The reason is the Quad 1 wins may clinch it. IU dodging a loss at Northwestern on Wednesday evening was pivotal.
Stanford. Lastly taking part in at residence, resulting from get again three of its six finest gamers within the coming days after not having them for the previous three weeks. Ziaire Williams is a kind of gamers. He may very well be a top-20 choose.
Oregon. Will Richardson not too long ago made his debut for the Geese, they usually hope to be totally wholesome as a crew by the tip of the month. Gifted sufficient to be a double-digit seed that makes the second weekend.
Arkansas. A quiet 15-5 crew that is comfortably transferring in the fitting path. Eric Musselman’s bought a hodgepodge roster of latest guys that may very well be a enjoyable sleeper choose in a month. The protection has picked up.
I will take this to imply gamers at the moment within the NBA and never all-time, simply to place some restraints on it. Clearly you place peak UConn Kemba Walker on this yr’s Huskies crew and its title odds spike. As for a crew that would go from good to true title contender by including an alum as the perfect faculty model of himself, Oklahoma with Buddy Hield (sure, much more than Trae Younger) can be a wonderful improve.
Most likely the American Athletic Convention. Houston is streets forward, but it surely’s the one crew comfortably within the subject at this level, and given the wild playing cards in play with league tournaments total, that one appears probably the most weak to a bid thief. (The Valley is a detailed second if Drake will get swept by Loyola Chicago this weekend.)
Guster is in my high three bands, whereas Phish would not crack my high 30. However as enjoyable as it could have been to see Guster — then going by “Gus” — in its early ’90s infancy in Boston, contemplate the cred you’d carry round eternally should you may actually declare to have been at the primary Phish present in historical past? That is heady, brah. Gimme Trey and the blokes. Shouts to Church Road.
• The NCAA Match choice committee is assembly this week, in particular person, to knock the rust off and seed the highest 16 groups by Thursday evening’s outcomes for Saturday’s high 16 reveal at 12:30 on CBS. It is the primary time the committee has met within the flesh since March 12, 2020, when the NCAA Match was canceled.
• Iona is ready to return Friday vs. Manhattan after not having performed a recreation since Dec. 23. That is 51 days! Nevertheless it’s not the longest in-season drought. That may belong to UC Davis, which went 55 days between video games earlier this season.
• The Huge Ten lastly introduced its resolution to have each its males’s and ladies’s tournaments this yr in Indianapolis. The boys will play at Lucas Oil Stadium, with the schedule going from March 10-14. Because of this if a Huge Ten crew competes within the Huge Ten match and if it had been to make the nationwide title recreation, it could be dwelling out of a resort for nearly a month.
• Elsewhere in league match information, conferences are finalizing their instances between finish of video games and tip-offs, more likely to be at the least 60 minutes. Days with 4 video games in a single venue will show difficult. A couple of sources have instructed tip instances starting at midday after which persevering with on with tip instances taking place round 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. if no followers are in attendance. A supply related to the Huge 12 shared that its quarterfinals will tip at 10:30, 1:30, 5:30 and eight:30 Central.
• Colgate‘s scenario has obtained some consideration for its aberrational standing within the NET. It is thirteenth regardless of taking part in simply eight video games and holding a 7-1 document vs. nothing however Patriot League groups. However do not anticipate the Raiders to crack the code. Their ranks in all different metrics make rather more logistical sense. This crew has zero likelihood at an at-large.
• The Atlantic 10 race is a lavatory. Six groups are tied within the loss column with two defeats apiece. Please give us a four-way tie atop the ledger season’s finish.
• UConn is 5-1 with James Bouknight and 3-4 with out him. The Huskies misplaced at Windfall on Wednesday and wish him again as quickly as potential to have a hope of constructing the NCAAs.
• Colorado has made 83% of its foul pictures on 347 makes an attempt to this point this season. The one-season mark is 82.2% by 1983-84 Harvard on 651 makes an attempt. Gonna be powerful!
• The very best-ranked crew within the NET with at the least one loss in each quadrant: No. 53 Richmond.
• Lowest-ranked crew within the NET with zero Quad 2, Quad 3 and Quad 4 losses: No. 43 Maryland.