Kevin Krutwig of Algonquin said the outpouring of support for his son Cameron and the Loyola Ramblers has been “crazy.”
Cam Krutwig, a 6-foot-9, 260-pound freshman center from Jacobs, helped No. 11 Loyola become the talk of the NCAA Tournament with last week’s upsets of higher seeds Miami and Tennessee. The Ramblers advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1985.
Kevin, an account manager at a Lake In The Hills landscaping company, drove with his wife, Lori, to see the games at Dallas. The couple will be in Atlanta on Thursday to see if Cam and Loyola (30-5) can keep it rolling against No. 7 Nevada (29-7).
Between trips, Kevin sees constant reminders his son’s Cinderella basketball team has captured the imagination of the sporting world.
“People have shirts of my kid at work. Loyola shirts with the name on the back,” Kevin said. “It’s crazy what’s going on. People you haven’t talked to in years are getting in touch. They want to come to a game and talk to Cam and say hi. I think it’s because he’s just a likable guy, you know?”
A Loyola legend found the younger Krutwig so likable he recently made a point of seeking out the true freshman, who averages 10.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists.
The Ramblers had just defeated Illinois State on Feb. 24 to clinch the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title and were cutting down the Gentile Arena nets when LaRue Martin and a couple of former players approached Krutwig.
Martin, a 6-foot-11 center, was drafted first overall by the Portland Trailblazers in 1972.
“He wanted to talk to Cam, just see him and talk and congratulate him because he can relate to being a big man playing the game,” Kevin said. “They just wanted to talk to him and share the moment with him and tell him how much they liked that game.
“These guys have done amazing things on and off the court, and the one guy they want to talk to and relate to is Cam. So that was a really cool moment; I thought that was really special.”
These Ramblers appreciate Cam Krutwig as much as the legends.
Named a Daily Herald all-area team honorary captain after he powered Jacobs to the Class 4A Elite Eight in 2017, Krutwig has started 31 of Loyola’s 35 games. His 840 minutes played rank fourth on the team.
“He brings so many things to the table that show on the stat sheet, but a lot of things he does are intangibles that you don’t really see show up, like the way he’s vocal on the court,” Loyola senior guard Ben Richardson said.
“He’s almost a leader as a freshman. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s very, very decisive and loud. And that’s what we need on defense and running plays, especially when it’s loud and you’re in the chaotic environment like in the tournament.
“Having a guy that’s solid and consistent out there as a freshman is a huge asset. He’s been somebody we can lean on all year, and he’s brought that day in and day out. That’s just something you don’t ever see from a freshman.
“That’s why it’s so impressive what’s he’s doing. But also he rebounds, he defends and he scores. He brings size that we’ve never had, and it gives us the ability to go inside out and play off him as well as play off our guards. I think it gives us a tremendous amount of versatility that makes us really hard to guard.”
Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said watching a player he mentored for four varsity seasons succeed at the highest level of college basketball is a unique experience.
“It’s a little bit surreal, but yet it seems so normal,” Roberts said. “It’s hard to explain. Obviously, you’re really, really proud of him and what he’s doing, but it’s not surprising.
“When he started there, he wasn’t starting but he found his way on the floor when it matters. Depending on matchups, maybe he gets more time in some games and less time in other games, but at the end of the game when it matters, when it’s time to win, he’s always on the floor.
“That’s just the kind of guy he’s been.”
If Loyola knocks off Nevada, the Ramblers would face the Kentucky-Kansas State winner Saturday for what would be the school’s first Final Four berth since the 1963 NCAA championship season.
Kevin Krutwig said he would be thrilled to extend his Atlanta trip two days to watch his son and the Ramblers make thousands of Loyola alumni ecstatic.
“It’s just been exciting to see so many people, the Loyola alumni, everyone, just so excited for the team and for us,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun, a great ride.”