Oklahoma hires Loyola Chicago’s Moser as basketball coach

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Loyola Chicago head coach Porter Moser, right, consoles guard Marquise Kennedy after a Sweet 16 game against Oregon State in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Indianapolis. Oregon State won 65-58. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Porter Moser orchestrated one of the great underdog stories in sports in recent years, leading mid-major Loyola Chicago to two deep NCAA Tournament runs with the blessing of Sister Jean.

Moser’s teams won’t surprise anyone now.

Oklahoma hired Moser as its basketball coach Saturday following Lon Kruger’s retirement. Moser embraces the challenge of coaching at a Big 12 program that reached the Final Four in 2016 and has featured NBA talents Buddy Hield and Trae Young.

“I’ve always said there are reasons why you win,” Moser said in a statement. “If you look at the standards that the programs at Oklahoma have set, there are reasons why they’ve won. The coaches, infrastructure and community are all championship caliber. You just want to be a part of that. To play in a premier league like the Big 12 and be a part of this championship culture excites me.”

Kruger led the Sooners to a 195-128 record in 10 years and reached seven of the past eight NCAA Tournaments. In Kruger’s final season at Oklahoma, the Sooners went 16-11 and finished with a loss to top-seeded Gonzaga in the second round.

Moser praised Kruger and believes the foundation is set.

“He’s all about winning the right way,” Moser said of Kruger. “I look forward to continuing that blueprint and continuing the blueprint we had at Loyola: winning the right way. I’m thrilled to join a program that is so focused on culture, people and excellence. I’m looking forward to diving in and building relationships with our players, the other coaches and the OU community.”

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said Moser’s “attributes, acumen and record of success totally aligned with what we were seeking.”

“He’s a purposeful and proven leader who prioritizes positive culture, accountability, academics, player development, innovation, transparent communication and a holistic approach to the student-athlete experience,” Castiglione added.

Moser led Loyola to the Final Four in 2018 and the Sweet 16 this year. He went 188-141 in 10 years at Loyola and has a 293-242 record in 17 seasons as a college head coach, with stops at Arkansas-Little Rock (2000-03) and Illinois State (2003-07).

“It is impossible to properly thank Porter for all he’s done for our basketball program and University,” Loyola athletic director Steve Watson said. “His vision and leadership brought Loyola to new heights and Ramblers everywhere will be eternally grateful.”

The Ramblers went 32-6 in their Final Four season and charmed the nation in an unexpected run buoyed by one last-second shot after another. Along the way, their 98-year-old nun and team chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, became a celebrity, with bobbleheads and athletic apparel and national TV interviews. The Ramblers beat Miami, Tennessee, Nevada and Kansas State to reach the national semifinal, where they lost to Michigan.

Loyola made another run this year, led by the nation’s stingiest scoring defense. The Ramblers went 26-5 in their fourth straight year with 20 or more wins. They earned their first AP Top 25 ranking since 1985 and won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament for the second time in four years.

Sister Jean, now 101 and fully vaccinated, was on hand for the NCAA Tournament this year. She watched in Indianapolis as Loyola beat ACC Tournament champion Georgia Tech and dominated top-seeded Illinois in the second round before falling to Oregon State.

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/College-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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