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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Moser, Ramblers nearing spotlight again

by Wally Hall | February 23, 2021 at 6:13 a.m.

The overnight sensation appears to be at it again.

In his 14th season as a head coach, at the age of 49, Porter Moser was the toast of the NCAA Tournament after leading Loyola-Chicago to the Final Four in 2018.

If you don't remember him, then think Sister Jean, the now 101-year-old nun who attended every game and got almost as much TV coverage as the Ramblers.

As of Monday, the Ramblers had a NET ranking of No. 11 in the country.

The leaders of the Missouri Valley Conference are ranked ahead of Florida State, Texas Tech and Kansas to name a few.

That is why Moser's name is coming up as a candidate for the Boston College job that opened up last week.

Success does that, but only Moser knows whether he can be pried away from what he has developed into his dream job. Despite the enticement of a contract north of $3 million, or three times what he currently makes, he turned down St. John's last year.

The ranking should mean, if all things are fair, the Ramblers won't have to win their conference tournament to get an invite to the Big Dance.

At 19-4 overall and 14-2 in league play, they are primed to bring some of their oxygen-stealing defense to the big stage.

The part about Moser being an overnight success is a joke, of course.

His first head coaching job was at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock after he spent two years there as an assistant for Wimp Sanderson.

Moser became head coach at UALR in 2000 and won 18 games each of the three years he led the program. As expected, a bigger school knocked on his door and the young man couldn't refuse the appeal to return to the Chicago area, where he was raised in Naperville.

One reason Illinois State came calling was that when Moser's players played as hard as he coached, they usually won.

He was so into one game, everything in the front pocket of his shirt flew out. He quickly grabbed the items, but he took a moment to look at the picture of his dad that he kept with him for every game.

Moser had some decent years at Illinois State, but the school got impatient and let him go.

He spent a few years as an assistant to Rick Majerus at St. Louis before Loyola-Chicago called in 2011.

Loyola-Chicago is one of the oldest Catholic schools in America. Although the Ramblers have learned to like winning, the biggest concerns always are academics and character.

Those are two things that are near and dear to Moser's heart, too.

A couple of years before the Final Four march and a boatload of attention for him, his program and Sister Jean, Loyola-Chicago switched from the Horizon to the Missouri Valley Conference.

That opened a whole new world of recruiting for Moser, and he is one win away from his fourth consecutive 20-plus win season.

During the 2018 Final Four, the 11th-seeded Ramblers were up to their necks in competition, news conferences and national attention as they knocked off No. 6 Miami 64-62; No. 3 Tennessee 63-62; No. 7 Nevada 69-68 and No. 9 Kansas State 78-62.

They lost to No. 3 Michigan 69-57 in the Final Four.

It was after the win over K-State that a congratulations text was sent to Moser. Didn't know if he had the same phone or would have time to reply.

He responded in less than 10 minutes with a "Thanks" and "How are things going?"

Porter Moser paid his dues and never forgot where he came from.

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Sunday's column about Igor and Borys Malczycki brought lots of emails recalling great memories. Their last name was misspelled in that column.


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