Porter Moser had no interest in leaving Loyola Chicago after an incredible, seemingly improbable run to the Final Four less than a month ago.
“I had a friend that told me, ‘don’t run from happiness,’’ Moser said on the latest NCAA.com podcast March Madness 365. “We’ve invested so much in this grass roots rebuild here. There’s such a passion and excitement in and around Chicago. I love our locker room. Changing the culture doesn’t happen overnight. I felt like I didn’t want to run from happiness.’’
So, it should have come as no surprise that Moser agreed to a contract extension last week that would take him through the 2025-26 season with the Ramblers. Moser, who played in the Missouri Valley at Creighton and is from the Chicago area, said he didn’t want to nor sought out any opportunities during the run to the Final Four or after the Ramblers’ season ended.
“Opportunities might have been filed but it didn’t matter to me,’’ said Moser.
But Moser is hardly standing still. He said he has challenged the fan base and the administration to continue the support shown during the NCAA tournament.
“We want to be competitive where we’re going,’’ said Moser. “We finished last in attendance this year in the Missouri Valley. We ended the year with a sellout. I challenged our fans. We have a 5,000-seat arena. We’ve got to fill that every night and be a big-time program and sustain it.’’
The Ramblers did pack the gym with 4,963 fans against Illinois State for the season finale. They ended up averaging 4,409 for 13 home games, but in six of them they didn’t couldn't get even 2,000 fans in the door.
Moser said the Ramblers not only have to continue to raise the win column but also the infrastructure.
The Ramblers are getting a new $18.5 million practice facility, but that was already penciled in prior to the run to the Final Four. The much-needed facility will be ready for the summer of 2019.
The Ramblers also must continue to upgrade the schedule, but that has proven tough sledding in the past two weekends while Moser has been out recruiting.
Loyola caught a break in the final year of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley challenge. The Ramblers will host Nevada in late November in a rematch of the Sweet 16 game in Atlanta. Nevada coach Eric Musselman said it should be a great game. The Ramblers are trying to secure another high-profile road or neutral game. Loyola has committed to playing in an Intersport-sponsored tournament in Fort Myers, Fla., with Richmond in one game and then taking on either Boston College or Wyoming in the other. Loyola will open the season at home in a pre-arranged series return against UMKC.
“The answer I get all the time is ‘Porter we don’t have to return the game,’’’ Moser said. “To get a home and home? It’s tough."
The Ramblers should be the pick to win the Missouri Valley again with the return of three studs on the team: MVC player of the year Clayton Custer, freshman of the year Cameron Krutwig and big-shot Marques Townes. Lucas Williamson, who emerged as a rising star, redshirt transfer Aher Uguak, shooter Bruno Skokna, Christian Negron and incoming freshman guard Isaiah Bujdoso could be the top eight for next season.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who tasted that platform and they want it back,’’ said Moser. “I tried to give them a couple of weeks off but they’re in the weight room and in the gym. They want to taste that platform again.’’