Three years ago, Loyola Chicago head coach Porter Moser stood on the court in awe after his 11th-seeded Ramblers knocked off Kansas State to book a trip to the Final Four. They matched the lowest-seeded team ever to reach the national semifinals.
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When asked by TBS what he saw as he looked out at that court, Moser said, “I see God is good, that’s what I see. God has blessed me on my journey, He’s blessed this university. And this group of guys are resilient. So first, the glory goes to Him. And second of all, the journey with these guys, it’s an unbelievable group. It’s amazing when you believe. They have believed and believed and believed, and it’s awesome to see. I just want to stare at them celebrating.”
This past Sunday, Loyola collected another huge NCAA Tournament victory when it took down No. 1-seed Illinois in dominating fashion, 71-58. The eighth-seeded Ramblers never trailed a team that had just won the Big Ten Tournament and was thought capable of contending for the national championship.
Moser hopes there are more wins on the way for this year’s squad — starting with 12th-seeded Oregon State on Saturday in the Sweet 16 — but his sentiments this past weekend were very similar to those he shared three years ago.
“I first want to thank God for giving our program this moment,” he said in his postgame press conference. “For allowing me to coach these young men and putting us in this moment right now. Secondly, the guys believed. I’ve said this before as the coach of Loyola: It’s amazing what happens when you get a group of young men who believe, and these guys believed.”
𝑺𝒘𝒆𝒆𝒕 16 #StillChasing https://t.co/FoWwuzLGl7
— Loyola Men's Basketball (@RamblersMBB) March 21, 2021
Moser’s faith in God has long been important to him, and he detailed as much in a book he published in 2020, “All In: Driven by Passion, Energy and Purpose.” In the acknowledgements, he begins by writing, “First and foremost, I’d like to thank God for the many blessings He has given to me in life, starting with my faith. The strength He has provided me has allowed me to persevere and thrive in my journey. All glory goes to Him.”
Moser’s basketball journey took him to Creighton as a player in 1986, where he sought God’s guidance when he wasn’t receiving significant playing time early on.
“I kept saying to myself, ‘God has a plan,'” Moser wrote in the book. “I had faith that at some point, there would be a breakthrough. I didn’t know what that breakthrough would be or when it would come, but I trusted that God had a plan and that I would eventually figure it out.”
That plan was to get into coaching, which he did at Creighton in 1990 after graduating. He later took assistant jobs at Texas A&M, Milwaukee and Arkansas-Little Rock before becoming the head coach at Little Rock in 2000. He moved onto the head job at Illinois State in 2003, but was fired in ’07. Moser called that “the worst day of my life.”
“‘God has a plan,’ I kept repeating to myself,” he wrote. “I realized that whatever God’s plan was, it did not include feelings of bitterness, resentment and anger.”
Moser eventually took another assistant job later in 2007 with Saint Louis, where he stayed until 2011, when he got the opportunity to take over at Loyola. Chicago is just 30 miles east of Moser’s hometown of Naperville.
Now, after taking the mid-major Ramblers to at least the Sweet 16 twice in the past three tournaments (there was no postseason in 2020), Moser is being linked to coaching openings at bigger schools. Regardless of what happens, he’s grateful for where he’s at and will continue to live the way he has for so long — trusting God’s plan.
“Gratitude is a faithful way of thinking,” Moser wrote in his book. “I know it’s difficult to be grateful when things get messed up. It takes faith that despite the problems you might be facing, God has a plan.”
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