EUGENE – Forgive Oregon senior forward Mike Moser is he appears a bit emotional at times during the No. 15 Ducks’ game Saturday against Illinois at the Moda Center.
Don’t judge the former Grant High School star should he appear overly excited, rush a shot or two or play a bit out of sorts during his first game back in Portland.
The transfer from UNLV claims that he won’t allow the emotion of playing in front 100 to 150 expected family and friends to cause him to want to show out. But avoiding some form of physiological response in the moment might not be humanly possible.
“I don’t want to be that guy,” he said of the potential for trying to show off in front of family and friends. “It will be fun, though. The emotions are going to be there.”
Moser has taken the long road from leading Grant to the 2008 6A championship to winding up starting for the Ducks (8-0) against Illinois (9-1) back at the Moda Center, which he said will always be the Rose Garden to him.
He does so as a vital part of the Ducks’ reloading effort after they lost a glut of talent from last season’s tournament team.
The 6-foot-8 Moser is second on the team in scoring with 15 points per game and leads the Ducks with 7.4 rebounds per game.
Maybe most importantly, Moser has brought in much-needed, veteran leadership.
“He’s pretty even-keeled,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “He’s excited about going back and I know his family is excited about going (to the game). A big reason he came to back to Oregon was because of his family in Portland. I’m sure they are excited.”
Moser signed with UCLA in 2009 as a promising four-star recruit. He played little as a freshman before transferring to UNLV. There, in 2011-12, Moser averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
The honorable mention All-American suffered a hip injury his junior season that caused him to average just 7.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
Last season UNLV played at the University of Portland but Moser missed that game because of injury.
“I kind of made a mistake of coming back too soon,” he said. “That hurt it more. I was kind of an average player because it was holding me back so much. Now I’m glad to be back healthy. Funny how you take that for granted.”
Moser considered turning professional following last season but decided he loved playing college basketball far too much and decided to return. Having completed his sociology degree, Moser was free to transfer without having to sit out a season.
It just so happened that Oregon was looking for big-man help after losing half of its rotation from last season. Moser jumped at the chance to fill that role and to return to his home state.
“I was raised here pretty much all my life,” he said. “Knowing that that was an opportunity really intrigued me.”
Family and friends have watched Moser play at Matthew Knight Arena. Watching him play in Portland will take things to another level.
Moser expects plenty of signage.
“I’m sure they’ll come out with something crazy,” he said.
Most of all, he said his followers are looking forward to watching the Ducks.
“They’re excited bout it, especially with this team,” he said. “I’ve got a big role with this team. We’re on a roll, 8-0 and feeling good about ourselves.”
Moser said he knew this game was on the schedule before he committed to Oregon. Although it wasn’t the deciding factor, it certainly proved to be icing on the cake.
“Definitely a good gift coach gave me,” Moser said.