As first impressions go, hats off and hands together for how Porter Moser represented himself, as well as OU, in his introductory press conference.
The newly appointed head coach of Oklahoma men’s basketball described himself as a high-energy guy who, like Lon Kruger before him, couldn’t resist the persuasive powers and opportunity presented to him by athletic director Joe Castiglione.
Moser said that one thing he was looking for when he first started speaking with Castiglione about the OU job was alignment with the vision, beliefs and way of working within the university and the camaraderie and relationships among its leaders. That was something he had at Loyola Chicago, Moser said, and he wanted to ensure that it would be the same, if not better, at Oklahoma.
“To listen to Joe’s vision of what Oklahoma is about was everything I was looking for,” Moser said.
“To coach at the highest level, in the Big 12, and at a family atmosphere-driven university is what any coach, especially me, covets,” he said in his opening comments.
Moser’s energy, excitement and genuine passion about building not just a winning program but one that is sustainable, and do it the right way, was something that came through loud and clear. You could see it in his body language and his animation as he spoke with enthusiasm and confidence, but also a willing acceptance and understanding of the challenge ahead.
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As he spoke to a small gathering of school officials, student representatives and reporters at Lloyd Noble Center, Moser remarked that he could tell by the echo how loud the place can get and that he is going to love creating the kind of contagious excitement and pride in your school and the team, both among the students and the fan base, that will fill up the LNC, night in and night out.
He had a similar challenge at Loyola, he said, pointing out how his Loyola teams were 38-2 at home over the last several seasons before sellout crowds and how valuable a home-court advantage can be. I know we’re going to be playing in front of a capacity crowd when we go to Allen Fieldhouse. We want to create that same kind of welcome when we play here (at Lloyd Noble Center).
Asked about his style of play, Moser said he is a strong believer that good offense starts with good defense. You can run off of misses, run off of turnovers and set up scoring opportunities. “Run and space, be efficient and play together,” that’s the framework of the style Moser likes his teams to play . Not to dissimilar to Lon Kruger’s approach to the game.
Moser said he is not coming here to rebuild the basketball program. That’s not the word I would use, he said.
“I want to enhance the brand. I want to enhance the Oklahoma basketball brand. I want to enhance the traditions that have gone on here and add add my energy and personal touch to what has been years and decades of excellence here.”
At one point in the press conference, a reporter asked Moser about leaving behind Sister Jean Delores Schmidt, the 101-year old team chaplain and a key influencer and supporter during his time at Loyola Chicago. She is entering the transfer portal, he said in jest.
“As long as we (Oklahoma) aren’t playing the Ramblers, the Sooners will have a 101-year-old nun praying for them,,” Moser said.
The new OU head coach acknowledged that there are a lot of roster spots to fill.
We need to develop the roster and then develop the talent on the roster and that will take some time, he said.. That starts with building relationships and trust with the players that are here, he added, as well as those you are recruiting. He’s already hit the ground running in that process, Moser said.
The same day Moser was being introduced to the media and the public, Oklahoma picked up its first commitment under its new head coach. Alston Mason, a three-star guard, who averaged 22.4 points a game for Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park, Kansas, announced his commitment to Moser and the Sooners a week ahead of the spring signing period.
“The Big 12, in my opinion, is the best conference in the best conference in the country,” Moser said. “It’s a standard of excellence. We have to be ready to punch (at) that weight. We have to develop the roster…(and )we will do that.”
The Porter Moser era of Oklahoma Sooner basketball has begun.