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Loyola says it’ll take a team effort to limit Michigan’s Wagner in Final Four

Loyola said it'll take a team effort to defend Moritz Wagner Saturday in Final Four. | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO — Loyola hasn’t seen anything like him.

Michigan’s Moritz Wagner, a 6-11, 245-pound stretch five from Germany, certainly is a different animal.

Ramblers forward Aundre Jackson said Wagner is the Wolverines’ biggest weapon. Wagner took that as a compliment to his hard work.

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When asked how he would feel about playing the villain in Loyola’s Cinderella story, Wagner said: “What else is new?”

The duel between Loyola freshman Cameron Krutwig, a 6-9, 260-pound center, and Wagner, a junior, is an interesting mismatch — or in Loyola coach Porter Moser’s words: “a matchup dilemma.”

Wagner has the ability to stretch the floor and shoot from the outside on top of his other big-man duties. He’s shooting 47.4 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range in the NCAA Tournament. Krutwig, on the contrary, is more of a traditional big man and plays a more physical game.

“We’ve never seen a guy that can shoot it at such a high level like him off the pick-and-pop and that can drive it,” Krutwig said. “We’ve played bigs that are more perimeter-oriented, but we’ve never played a big that can shoot like him.

“It’s definitely going to be a chess match.”

In preparation for Loyola’s Final Four matchup Saturday against Michigan, Moser said the Ramblers have been working on a game plan to limit Wagner’s opportunities.

Krutwig will try to stand his ground, but it’ll take a team effort to defend against Wagner, guard Clayton Custer said.

“We play team defense,” Custer said. “It’s five guys trying to stop the ball. And Cameron has been really good. . . . But he’s going to have a lot of help from us, too.

“We’re going to make it hard on him, and we’re going to help Cam as much as possible because we think Cameron can really help us on the offensive end.”

Jackson, whose athleticism will be instrumental in trying to stop Wagner, called on the entire team to step up against him.

He’s confident the Ramblers can stick to the rotation plan they’ve been working on.