Have you ever known something unfortunate was about to occur before it happened? Had that cringeworthy feeling of watching it unfold in slow motion and being completely powerless to stop it?
That’s kind of how Loyola coach Porter Moser felt as he watched Dan Patrick prod Ramblers center Cameron Krutwig into an impromptu karaoke session during Krutwig’s appearance on his show Monday.
“I was saying, 'Oh no, you don’t. No, you don’t,' " Moser said Wednesday, laughing.
Krutwig did, of course, joining one of Patrick’s producers in singing part of Hall and Oates’ “Private Eyes.”
“That’s who he is. He’s just a fun-loving guy,” Moser said. “There was no doubt he was going to start busting out doing it. You love him as player, but you love him as a person because he’s just that way.”
Cameron Krutwig led Loyola in points (19), assists (five) and offensive rebounds (four) in the Ramblers' victory over Illinois. (Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski, USA TODAY Sports)
While Krutwig embraces his goofball persona – he’s sporting a sweet ‘stache for this year’s NCAA men’s tournament after having mutton chops during Loyola’s Final Four run in 2018, and brought along a harmonica – do not let that obscure the fact that he is a good basketball player.
A very, very good basketball player.
Krutwig was simply outstanding in Loyola’s upset of top-seeded Illinois on Sunday. He was both the engine and conductor of the Rambler offense, leading the team in points (19), assists (five) and offensive rebounds (four).
He also led Loyola in total rebounds (12), though his defensive contributions went well beyond that. All-American Ayo Dosunmu was limited to nine points, almost eight below his average. It seemed as if anytime Dosunmu got the ball, Krutwig was there to put pressure on him. Kofi Cockburn scored 21, but he earned every one of them with Krutwig crowding him around the basket.
Illinois was held to just 58 points, more than 20 below its season average.
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“That's our defense,” Krutwig said after the game. “I guess people kind of forgot or something, but we were the No. 1 defense in the country this year.”
There’s a lesson in not being fooled by outward appearances, both Krutwig’s and his team’s.
Cameron Krutwig is my favorite college basketball player/Coen Brothers character
Loyola is as mid-major as they come, a small, Catholic school that plays in the Missouri Valley. Yet this is its second Sweet 16 appearance in four years, following that Final Four trip. The Ramblers, as Krutwig said, had the country’s best defense, allowing opponents two fewer points than the next-stingiest team, Houston.
The 6-9, 255-pound Krutwig is listed as a center – he’s the first center in 15 years to win Missouri Valley Conference player of the year honors – but he’s got the hands of a guard. Only Braden Norris has more assists this year for Loyola.
“I hate to toot my own horn here, but I feel like I’m making other guys better on the floor,” Krutwig said on the Dan Patrick Show. “I’m attracting attention, setting dudes up. It’s definitely position-less, in my book.”
While Krutwig has shown in the NCAA Tournament that he can play with anyone, he didn’t get a single scholarship offer from a Power Five school coming out of high school.
“I felt could have played at the highest level,” Krutwig told Patrick. “But I also wanted to go somewhere where I was a fit.”
There are coaches who wouldn’t appreciate Krutwig’s quirky personality, or his love for ‘70s and ‘80s music, but Moser is not one of them. This is a guy who worked with Rick Majerus for four years, remember. He knows a thing or two about personalities.
And Krutwig’s goofiness isn’t an act. This really is who he is.
“That was one of the things that drew me to him,” Moser said. “The first practice I went to (while recruiting) … they’re doing a shooting drill when I walked in. He’s sitting there slapping everybody butts and clapping. He was like a 5-5 walk-on that’s there to bring energy, and he was their star player as a sophomore.
“He loves basketball,” Moser said. “He loves life, he loves people, he loves friends. I just think the world is starting to see that more. His mustache, his singing – he don’t care. It’s who he is, and that’s what you love about him.”
The rest of the country is discovering what his team has always known: Krutwig has a personality as big as his game.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.
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