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updated: 4/6/2011 9:09 PM

Naperville's Moser wows Loyola with his energy, vision

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  • Porter Moser

      Porter Moser

 

If Porter Moser didn't set the NCAA record for wowing an athletic director, then the mark must be shatterproof on a DiMaggio-esque level.

Here's how M. Grace Calhoun, Loyola's new AD, described her first talk with Loyola's new coach.

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"About three minutes into the (phone) conversation, I found myself saying, 'I just love this guy,'" Calhoun said Wednesday after introducing Moser to the masses at Loyola's new $26 million Norville Center.

"His energy. His ability to articulate a vision for the program. His values. I just immediately felt a sense of connection and found myself saying, 'I can work with this guy. This is the type of leader we need for the Rambler program.'"

The 42-year-old Moser, who grew up in Naperville's Cress Creek neighborhood and graduated from Benet Academy in 1986, certainly has passion and energy to burn.

While he held a microphone during his news conference Wednesday, he didn't need it. His enthusiasm for a Horizon League job essentially in his hometown -- four years after being fired at Illinois State -- came through loud and clear.

"This is a sleeping giant here," Moser said. "With this new (Norville Center). Walking through here. Walking on the campus.

"When I grew up here, there weren't many kids living on campus. Now there's 4,500 kids living on this campus. I mean, it is a college feel here in one of the greatest cities in the world."

But local players, for whatever reason, have been hesitant to stay and play at Loyola.

Of the 12 scholarship players Moser inherits from Jim Whitesell, the only one from Illinois is Mount Carmel's Jonathan Gac.

It's probably also fair to count incoming freshman Joe Crisman, too, as the Indiana all-state guard lives just across the border in Munster.

Moser, who'll introduce Chicago native Rodell Davis (a former Providence assistant and Iowa player) as his top assistant Thursday, intends to increase Loyola's local quotient quickly.

Schaumburg High School graduate Cully Payne, who just received his release from Iowa, told the Daily Herald on Tuesday he has talked extensively with Moser about a transfer.

"These kids in the Chicago area, the surrounding suburbs, they're going to learn, 'Hey, Loyola's a great option," Moser said. "The Horizon League is a league with its arrow going up. Butler's obviously put them on the map. There's a lot of other good teams. And that's where we want to go."

But there's a catch as Moser launches Loyola's hiking expedition.

He returns to town just as every local program has gone out of its way to try to capture a larger share of this market.

UIC's vibrant and talented Howard Moore grew up blocks from his school. Within three months of Moore's hire, UIC signed three Public League standouts.

DePaul brought in Oliver Purnell almost exactly one year ago. Purnell kept Billy Garrett on his staff and the Demons have gone all-out -- they even sent all four coaches to the same Public League game -- to prove they're serious about Chicago.

NIU just hired Michigan State associate head coach Mark Montgomery as part of its plan to hit the city.

Not only has Montgomery recruited this area for years, he re-hired popular assistant Todd Townsend on Wednesday.

Northwestern, of course, relied heavily the last two years on Michael "Juice" Thompson (Rogers Park), John Shurna (Glen Ellyn) and Drew Crawford (Naperville). And seven of Illinois' last nine recruits came from this area.

Tracy Dildy, who just finished his first year at Chicago State, boasts more local ties than anyone.

Oh, and don't forget Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State and others came to town this year to pluck blue-chippers.

Not all of these coaches can succeed while making Chicago their base.

Or can they?

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