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Loyola-Chicago alum Milton Doyle talks Rambler Madness

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NCAA Basketball: Loyola-Chicago at Wichita State Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Few have been more joyous over the Rambler Run from Loyola-Chicago than former standout Milton Doyle. Well, okay, Sister Jean, maybe.

Doyle, a current Brooklyn Net and 2017 graduate of Loyola, is still very much connected to the team he spent four years with before leaving as one of two seniors last spring.

Had Doyle not been ahead of his time, he’d probably be the focal point of this Final Four team, but in any event, he’s elated, and spoke to reporters following Monday’s Nets practice about the Rambler revival and Cinderella surge.

“It’s great. It’s like watching my little brothers just enjoy their success,” he said, with an ear-to-ear grin. “I talk to them all the time. I’m still in the group message. I know everything that’s going on. It’s been crazy. They’ve been getting all types of shoutouts from everyone in Chicago from (Barack) Obama to Chance The Rapper.”

Of course, the most widely covered phenomenon surrounding the Ramblers’ rise has been Sister Jean, a 98-year-old nun, and the team’s biggest supporter. As far as the mainstream media goes, there was little known of ‘Sister Jean’ prior to the NCAA Tournament. Doyle assured everyone today that she’s no bandwagon fan.

Doyle, who Sister Jean refers to as her “NBA guy,” recalled her being quite knowledgeable, going over the Rambler scouting reports and sending each individual player constructive feedback, via email, following each game.

“She’s been there forever, so, it’s just people starting to get to know her now,” said Doyle who couldn’t stop smiling. “She’s been doing the NCAA bracket and stuff in Chicago for a long time. Everybody always asks me about her and the emails and how she knows the scouting report. That’s like the biggest story I could have.

“After every game she sends emails out to each player individually and tells them what they’ve done right and wrong. She actually knows what she’s talking about. She knows the scouting report just like us – I enjoy all the feedback. Most times when you get feedback, it’s negative, but with her it’s positive, even when she’s telling you to fix something, so it’s great – she knew everything she was talking about. When you see her talking on TV you can tell she knows what she’s talking about.”

The G-League season is now over, but prior G-League obligations have prevented him from keeping up with Loyola-Chicago games as closely as he would’ve liked.

When the Ramblers went on their Missouri Valley Conference Championship charge from March 2-4, Doyle had G League Net games on the same nights against the Windy City Bulls (but on Long Island, not in Chicago). In their 4-0 March Madness run, Doyle’s had games on two of the same days, March 22 and March 24, missing the Ramblers’ Sweet 16 and Elite Eight victories, but the good people surrounding the team were able to keep him up to seed, even during said games.

“I just keep track of it. Most people tell me. Even during our G League games, we play most of the same days as them. So when I walk in and sub into a game, there’s people telling me the score and everything,” he said, drawing laughter.

Doyle’s Ramblers have sunk Miami, Tennessee, Nevada and Kansas State, and now have a date with the alma mater of teammates Caris LeVert and Nik Stauskas, the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday.

Kenny Atkinson joked after Monday’s practice that LeVert ‘talks more about Michigan than he does about the Nets,’ so surely Doyle and LeVert will exchange some level of healthy trash talk, maybe even a bet.

The Nets are in Miami on Saturday, but will be free to watch the National Championship showdown on April 2, which is guaranteed to gather the eyeballs of more than a Nets, with Doyle, LeVert, Stauskas, Dante Cunningham (Villanova) and Jacque Vaughn (Kansas) all ready for action. (Atkinson’s wife also attended Kansas).

All in all, Doyle believes that his Ramblers’ Cinderella run could extend to a National Championship, which would require wins over Michigan and the winner of Villanova vs. Kansas.

“I think the way they’ve been playing together, and defensively they’ve been solid. You don’t really see it that much, every year in the tournament like that it’s mostly all offense but I think they (Loyola Chicago) focus on defense and on other teams,” he said, before parting with a message to his old squad.

“Just keep doing what you’re doing. It’s been working so far; just keep it up.”