Chicago area native Porter Moser has been at the helm for the most significant moments in Loyola University Chicago men’s basketball history in the last 55 years. During his first seven seasons in Rogers Park, the Naperville, Ill., product has changed the program’s culture and reestablished recruiting in the Chicago area, all while also successfully navigating the transition to the Missouri Valley Conference. Loyola’s 50 wins over the last two seasons are its most over a two-year stretch since 1962-63 and 1963-64.
One of only six coaches in school history to win over 100 games on the Loyola bench, Moser has guided the Ramblers to the 2015 College Basketball Invitational (CBI) title in the first postseason berth since 1985, led them to seven wins over Power 5, Big East or Mountain West conference schools, posted the most wins since 1985 (24 in 2014-15) and seen Loyola earn its first Associated Press Top 25 votes since the historic run to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1985.
The 2017-18 season was a historic one for Loyola as Moser piloted the Ramblers to a school-record 32 wins and their first Final Four appearance since winning the NCAA championship in 1963, along with a No. 7 ranking in the final 2017-18 USA Today Coaches Poll.
Moser was named Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year this year and also was selected as the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 16 Coach of the Year after leading Loyola to the Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament championships and a school-record 32 wins. Along the way, the Ramblers knocked off four nationally ranked teams, including the program’s first-ever win on the road against a top-five opponent (No. 5 Florida), and the team ranked second in the nation in fewest personal fouls per game (13.9), third in field goal percentage (.507), and sixth in scoring defense (62.6 ppg).
The trajectory of the program has taken off especially in the last four seasons under Moser, with the team recording an 89-50 (.597) record. Loyola’s 50 wins over the last two seasons are its most over a two-year period since posting 51 total victories during the 1962-63 and 1963-64 campaigns. One of only two coaches in MVC history to win the MVC Tournament as both a player and a head coach, Moser is also one of only five individuals to win or share the league’s regular-season title as a head coach after doing so as a player.
During the 2017-18 season, Clayton Custer became the first player in program history to be named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, while also earning Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America honors. Center Cameron Krutwig took home MVC Freshman of the Year honors and Ben Richardson was tabbed MVC Defensive Player of the Year and a pair of Ramblers – Custer and Donte Ingram – took home NABC First Team All-District recognition. Meanwhile, off the court, Custer was named CoSIDA Academic All-District and both Custer and Richardson were First Team MVC Scholar-Athlete Team selections for the second straight year.
Under Moser’s direction, Loyola also developed and produced its first NBA player in 30 years when former All-MVC guard Milton Doyle saw action with the Brooklyn Nets this season, and the Ramblers continue to achieve at a high level academically, last semester posting a 3.1 team grade-point average.
During the 2016-17 season, Moser piloted the Ramblers to an 18-win season and their best finish in the Missouri Valley Conference standings since joining the league, in addition to posting wins over Washington State and Mountain West Conference favorite San Diego State.
Milton Doyle, the first Chicago Public League recruit to attend Loyola in a decade, thrived under Moser’s tutelage and left as one of the program’s all-time greats. The versatile guard not only became the first player in program history to earn First Team All-MVC accolades, but also is the first Rambler since Blake Schilb in 2007 to earn First Team National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District recognition as well as receive in invitation to the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. Doyle finished his career in the top 10 in school history in both points (1,606) and assists (459) and signed a contract with the Brooklyn Nets in August 2017.
Another one of Moser’s Chicago Public League recruits, Donte Ingram, had a breakthrough season in 2016-17, nearly doubling his scoring average, while establishing himself as a Third Team All-MVC and MVC Most Improved Team selection. Junior college transfer Aundre Jackson adjusted to Division I basketball immediately, earning MVC Sixth Man of the Year, MVC All-Newcomer Team and MVC-All Bench Team honors, while setting a Loyola single-season record for field goal percentage (.669).
Off the court, Custer and Richardson were hailed as MVC Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete Team selections, making Loyola the only program in the league with multiple first team honorees.
In 2015-16, Loyola posted a win over Creighton, its first over the Bluejays since 1981, notched a win at Arch Madness for the third straight season, and took Wichita State down to the wire at the MVC Tournament in St. Louis. Moser developed Montel James into a Second Team All-MVC selection and the senior forward tied a Valley Tournament (since moving to St. Louis) record by snagging 17 boards against Bradley.
Loyola’s 2014-15 season was a magical one, as the Ramblers were the surprise team of the Missouri Valley, exceeding expectations every step of the way in posting their best season in 30 years. The Ramblers’ 24 wins were their most since 1985 and their RPI improvement of over 200 spots was third-best among Division I programs.
A well-balanced and talented roster jelled very early in the season and Loyola closed its non-conference season with wins over Texas Tech and Boise State – a NCAA Tournament team – to win the Continental Tires Las Vegas Classic. Tournament MVP Milton Doyle was sidelined for 12 conference games but the Ramblers banded together and were playing their best basketball of the season down the stretch.
A key, late-season road win at Drake thrust LU into Friday night’s quarterfinals at Arch Madness and the Ramblers put together a dominant performance, leading by as many as 39 points before settling for an Arch Madness-record 28-point victory before getting tripped up the next night in the semifinals by No. 11 UNI.
The Ramblers’ 19 wins earned them a bid to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI), their first postseason appearance since the team advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1985. Loyola made the most of the opportunity, their brand of efficient and unselfish basketball propelling the Ramblers to a sweep of Louisiana-Monroe in the best-of-three championship series. The championship sweep put them in selective company as they are just the second team in the history of the tournament to sweep the title series, joining Shaka Smart’s VCU team.
Christian Thomas, Moser’s first recruit to Loyola, capped an outstanding season by earning Honorable Mention All-Missouri Valley honors. Thomas graduated as one of just 10 players in school history to rack up over 1,300 career points and over 600 career rebounds and also sits third on the Ramblers’ career field goal percentage list. Despite just finishing his junior season, Devon Turk became Loyola’s all-time leader in three-pointers made while Doyle came back from injury in the regular-season finale and was a catalyst for the Ramblers’ postseason run.
Newcomers Montel James, Earl Peterson, Donte Ingram and Ben Richardson were all key contributors, as Moser put together a deep and versatile group of talented performers. James was a member of the MVC All-Newcomer Team while Peterson was one of the team’s best clutch players and was named CBI MVP. Ingram was one of the team’s biggest weapons off the bench while Richardson’s savvy and tough-nosed play made him an integral part of the team’s success.
Success did not come overnight but Moser and the Ramblers’ success last season was due, in part, to the 2013-14 season, Loyola’s first in the Valley. The leader of that group was Doyle, who became just the seventh player in Missouri Valley history – and first since Doug McDermott – to win both the MVC Newcomer and Freshman of the Year awards. Doyle was just one of three underclassmen who were big contributors that season, with Jeff White establishing himself at the point guard position and Turk continuing to provide shooting and scoring off the bench, with the sixth man earning a spot on the MVC All-Bench Team. In addition, Thomas continued to improve, putting together another terrific campaign while adding new elements to his game. As a result, Thomas was one of just three MVC players to rank in the top 10 in the league in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage, joining Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early and UNI’s Seth Tuttle.
While the transition to the Valley was certainly an adjustment, Moser’s Ramblers showed that they fit in very well to one of America’s best basketball conferences. Loyola announced its presence with a 32-point home win over Missouri State for its first MVC win and endured a stretch in which five of its first seven losses were by single digits, with its most lopsided defeat being a 12-point setback at national power Wichita State.
Loyola then provided one of Championship Week’s top moments in its first-ever game at Arch Madness, with Doyle knocking in a long, contested three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Ramblers a 74-72 win over Bradley.
Off the court, Moser’s troops continued to excel, with Joe Crisman earning MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Week four different times and the Munster, Ind. native also was the only LU student-athlete selected for the school’s prestigious Maroon and Gold Society.
After successfully laying the foundation for the program in 2011-12, his first season in Rogers Park, Moser steered the Ramblers to an eight-game improvement in the win column in 2012-13, the best improvement in Loyola history by a coach from his first year to his second. The eight-game improvement was also the best by a Loyola squad since the 2001-02 team won 10 more contests than the previous outfit.
During the 2012-13 season, Moser piloted Loyola to victories over a pair of BCS conference foes, giving the Ramblers multiple wins over power conference opponents for the first time since 1991-92. Loyola’s 69-61 victory at DePaul was the program’s first over its city rival since 1989, and a 59-51 win against Mississippi State was Loyola’s first over a Southeastern Conference opponent since 2008.
Despite missing a handful of games due to injury, senior Ben Averkamp was named Second Team All-Horizon League for the second straight year and off the court, the forward became the program’s first-ever Capital One Academic All-American when he earned second team recognition. Averkamp wrapped up his career as one of only 19 players in Loyola annals to accumulate over 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in his career.
Moser’s tutelage also helped guard Devon Turk establish a Loyola single-season record for three-point field goals by a freshman (65), while along the way, the sharpshooter led the Horizon League in three-point field goal percentage (.633). One of Moser’s greatest transformations in 2012-13 however, was the meteoric rise of forward Christian Thomas, who averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds over the final 22 contests after putting up 4.6 ppg and 4.0 rpg over the first nine outings of the year.
A firm believer in building a program and not a team, Moser, in his first season at Loyola, made huge strides in laying a foundation for future success. In 2011-12, the undermanned Ramblers suffered 11 losses by 10 points or less, including eight by seven points or less. Moser used his recruiting acumen to land a well-thought-of crop that includes Nick Osborne, Jeff White, Matt O’Leary, Devon Turk, Jeremy King, and Tanner Williams, Loyola’s first Chicago Public League player since 2008, Milton Doyle.
Under Moser’s tutelage, Averkamp took the next step in his progression by emerging into one of the elite players in the Horizon League. Averkamp earned Second Team All-Horizon League accolades in 2011-12 to become Loyola’s first all-league selection since Blake Schilb in 2006-07. Last winter, Averkamp was one of only two players to rank among the top five in the Horizon League in both scoring (15.4) and rebounding (7.1) and he enters his senior campaign needing only 11 points and 27 rebounds to become just the 19thplayer in school history to top 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in his career.
However, Averkamp wasn’t the only Rambler to thrive under Moser’s leadership, as Walt Gibler registered personal-best averages of 12.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest. He wrapped up his career as one of the most prolific scorers and rebounders ever to don the Maroon and Gold, and became the 18thplayer in Loyola annals to total 1,000 points and 500 boards, before signing a professional contract in August to play in Germany.
In addition to their accomplishments on the court, Averkamp and Gibler were also lauded for their excellence in the classroom, with each being named to the I-AAA Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete Team, the Horizon League Men’s Basketball All-Academic Team and the National Jesuit Men’s Basketball All-Academic Team. Averkamp also picked up Capital One First Team Academic All-District V recognition and a total of three Ramblers were named to the Horizon League Spring Academic Honor Roll. Gibler was also recognized by the Horizon League by earning the most prestigious award it hands out each year, the Cecil N. Coleman Medal of Honor. Awarded to a male and female student-athlete in the conference who best exemplifies the high purpose and character of the league and its membership, the Coleman Award had previously been won by a Rambler men’s basketball player just one other time, by Jason Telford in 2004, before Gibler garnered the hardware in 2012.
Named one of the top 50 assistant coaches in the country by Basketball Timesin 2009, Moser was named associate head coach after spending one season as an assistant coach at Saint Louis. While working under legendary coach Rick Majerus with the Billikens, he helped SLU to a 69-61 overall record during his four years on the staff and the 2009-10 team posted a 23-13 overall record and reached the finals of the College Basketball Invitational before falling to Virginia Commonwealth University.
Prior to his stint at Saint Louis, Moser was the head coach at Illinois State for four years before leaving behind a championship caliber team. After the 2003-04 squad notched a 10-19 record, Moser engineered a seven-game improvement in the win column in his second season as head coach as the Redbirds went 17-13 in 2004-05 despite being picked to finish last in the league in the preseason poll. Moser’s recruiting acumen helped land a talent-laden class in his final season at Illinois State, and that group was a critical component to three NIT berths in a three-year stretch from 2008-10.
At Illinois State, Moser coached three All-Missouri Valley Conference selections and produced one Academic All-America selection (Neil Plank in 2006).
Moser’s first head coaching opportunity came at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, and in three short seasons there, he steered the Trojans to a 54-34 overall record. The architect of the greatest turnaround in Sun Belt Conference history, Moser turned a 4-24 team into an 18-11 outfit in just one year.
When Moser took over the reins of the UALR program, the Trojans ranked last in several defensive categories in the Sun Belt Conference, but after that first season, finished tops in the league in field goal percentage defense and three-point field goal percentage defense, and second in scoring defense.
He began his coaching career in 1990-91 as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, Creighton University, then spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Texas A&M University before moving to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for one season. While at A&M, Moser helped the Aggies reach the 1994 NIT for their first postseason appearance in seven years. After that brief stay at Milwaukee, Moser returned to Texas A&M for two more seasons on the Aggies’ bench, then served as an assistant coach under both Wimp Sanderson and Sidney Moncrief at UALR for two years.
As a player at Creighton, Moser was a two-year starter and helped the Bluejays to the 1989 Missouri Valley Conference title and a NCAA Tournament berth. He graduated in 1990 with a degree in business management.
During his prep career at Benet Academy, Moser was a three-year varsity starter and was named the conference player of the year as a senior. The all-state selection was also instrumental in Benet’s state record 102-game home winning streak and in 2017 was named to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a player.
Moser and his wife, Megan, and their four children – Jordan, Jake, Max and Ben – reside in Wilmette.