Can Anderson Keep Loyola '90 Streak Alive?
BALTIMORE -- After losing to Loyola in the 2012 NCAA semifinals, Notre Dame assistant coach Kevin Anderson stood outside the Irish locker room in Foxborough and sincerely wished Charley Toomey, the head coach of the Greyhounds, the best of luck in the national title game.
They weren't just empty words. Anderson and Toomey played together at Loyola and were both members of the 1990 team that lost in the finals to Syracuse in the Hounds' first trip to the ultimate game. (That Syracuse championship was later vacated by the NCAA.)
Loyola went on to win its first championship in 2012, much to the delight of all Greyhound alums, including Anderson.
Last year, Anderson watched another teammate from the '90 Loyola finals squad, Paul Cantabene, lead his current program to its first-ever national championship when Stevenson took down RIT in Philadelphia. Anderson and Cantabene were actually roommates during their time at the northern Baltimore school and remain close friends.
Now that the Fighting Irish have defeated Maryland in the second semifinal of the Division I championship on Saturday in Charm City, Anderson will get a chance to make it three-in-row for former members of that '90 team.
Are Toomey and Cantabene as excited for him as he was for them?
"Charley texted as we were leading into the Albany game," Anderson said. "They got upset by Albany, or we would have met up with them last week at Hofstra. Charley is a fantastic guy and a great coach, and I know he was disappointed by how the season ended, but everybody is except for one program. He was nice enough to send a text that said, 'Good luck to you guys and take it to them.' And I got a text from 'Bener this morning saying, 'Good luck.'"
Anderson believes that playing for the title in '90 with Loyola, which ended with a 21-9 loss to the Orange, has set the foundation for all three of them.
"I think we learned a lot from that experience that has carried over," he said. "What Charley and Paul have been able to do – and what everybody wants to do – is get over that last hump and win it all. If you look at each of us, we've put ourselves in the position to be there. That's the first step, and then once you get to that weekend, how do you finish it out?"
Finishing it out is something that Anderson knows a lot about from his tenure at Notre Dame. He had the opportunity to be the first of the three former teammates to win a championship back in 2010 when Notre Dame met up with Duke, which also will be Monday's foe, in the finals. It was classic contest, with the Blue Devils winning in overtime, but it's a result that he hasn't forgotten.
"We were one goal away from winning it all, so of course it bothers you when you don't get over that hump," Anderson said. "The fact that we played 60 minutes and were right there. And if we play 60 minutes on Monday and we are right there again, that's exactly where we want to be. I wouldn't change anything from that  game except for the first eight seconds of overtime. But everyone in our locker room is different and everyone in their locker room is different now."
Anderson and the Fighting Irish will be underdogs against Duke, just like they were in 2010. But unlike that game, there will now be at least two championship coaches pulling for Notre Dame in order to keep the Loyola '90 streak alive.