Rambling to the Sweet 16: The "R" word applies to Loyola, too

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"I think the sport and us actually winning has really brought the school together, because not a lot of students have realized how good they are, and that's kind of a shame", Camila Flores said.

You said it, Sister.#MarchMadness has a new hero.

A former basketball player before becoming a nun, she was once a grade school teacher and ran girls sports programs. Not just because she's the team chaplain.

"I said we wanted to get that big W up there, and we did", she said in a postgame TV interview.

"I'm told them that we were going to win, that we could do it and that God would be on our side", she told TNT after beating the Tennessee Volunteers 63-62 Saturday night.

"I've seen him make a 1-2 dribble pull-up probably a million times", Richardson said.

Sister Jean is a favorite star of the NCAA tournament this year. The Wolfpack trailed by 22 points with 11 minutes remaining, and they finished with a 49% field goal efficiency while holding the Bearcats to a 41% clip from the field. Ramblers players apparently love Smith's determination, loyalty and spirit.

"For her to be doing what she's doing at her age, it's incredible, and it's inspiring", guard Clayton Custer said.


Head coach Porter Moser said Sister Jean is an integral part of the team. But who is she?

Moser, an assistant coach for the late Rick Majerus at Saint Louis before that, recalls only a couple hundred people at games, and his family walking through the student union with more people there than in the basketball arena. "And I think, I mean, I think her prayers definitely mean a little bit extra when she prays for us".

Her official title, however, is team chaplain for Loyola-Chicago.

"She's like another coach", senior Donte Ingram told SB Nation. Several key players will be back, including Custer, fellow junior guard Marques Townes and freshman center Cameron Krutwig. Nevada was just able to defeat second seed Cincinnati and I am confident their outstanding scoring depth can solve the Ramblers defense. "She prayed, but then she starts saying, 'You've got to box out and watch out for 23'".

When Loyola-Chicago takes on No. 3 seed Miami at 3:10 p.m. ET on Thursday, Sister Jean will be hoping her Ramblers can pull out the upset.

College basketball fans, no matter which team they like, apparently can't get enough of Smith, either.

The Ramblers will face the victor of Cincinnati and Nevada in Atlanta next week.

Good luck to Loyola and its biggest fan as the team continues in the Big Dance!

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