Just three years before The Glory Road and Texas Western’s NCAA basketball title in 1966, there were the paths paved by the Loyola Ramblers. Lew Freedman explains through dogged reporting and beautiful writing just how the Ramblers’ road was built.
John Akers, publisher, Basketball Times
The story of Loyola's 1963 NCAA championship is an essential piece of college basketball history that is too often buried under more convenient or recent episodes. Lew Freedman has been one of the nation's best basketball writers for more than three decades; I can't imagine anyone doing a better job reminding us all that occurred here and why it matters.
Mike DeCourcy, college basketball columnist, Sporting News
The 1963 Ramblers won the NCAA basketball championship with four black starters at a time when major college teams typically had one or two. They played road games in New Orleans and Houston where racial slurs were hurled from the bleachers. To reach the finals they defeated an all-white team from Mississippi State that was forbidden to play against blacks. All of this within the crescendo of the civil rights movement just a few months before Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. There is plenty of meat on this grist, a story to be told.
Steve Marantz, author of The Rhythm Boys of Omaha Central: High School Basketball at the '68 Racial Divide
Finally. Lew Freedman rights a wrong and tells the story of George Ireland and his 1962-63 Loyola Ramblers, a team starting four African-Americans en route to an NCAA title at a time when even having one person of color on a major college roster was a conversation starter. Lew Freedman can tell a story, and he gets it all, giving us a picture of a vastly different college basketball world and showing us the tactics of a coach who believed the words “starter” and “finisher” to be synonyms.
Bob Ryan, retired Boston Globe sports columnist