OU men's basketball: 5 questions facing coach Porter Moser this offseason

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Joe Buettner, The Norman Transcript, Okla.
·4 min read
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Apr. 12—Oklahoma's future was undoubtedly in question when coach Lon Kruger announced his retirement days following the team's 2020-21 season.

Since then, OU's roster has been hit hard by transfers and NBA draft declarations.

The Sooners ultimately landed Porter Moser, who turned Loyola Chicago into a mid-major power over the last decade and ought to ease some nerves around the program.

His energy and values are in line with what Kruger brought to the job. It also helps he's won on basketball's biggest stage.

While Moser will have to scramble to replenish his talent pool, he has the benefit of essentially a full offseason to get the Sooners prepared for their next campaign.

Here are the five biggest questions facing Moser in his first year:

1. Can Moser convince the rest of OU's roster to stick around?

Trey Phipps, Victor Iwuakor and Anyang Garang are in the NCAA transfer portal, as is Brady Manek. Austin Reaves and De'Vion Harmon have declared for the NBA draft. And Kur Kuath doesn't plan to use his extra year of eligibility, while Alondes Williams is undecided.

Moser will likely have to dip heavily into the transfer market to replace the production OU loses from last year's team. There are two potential departures, however, that could change their mind.

Manek, who posted 10.8 points and five rebounds per game last season, made it clear on social media that he hasn't shut the door on coming back to OU.

Harmon can also return, as long as he doesn't sign an agent. He's also spoken regularly with Moser since he was hired, The Transcript has learned.

Recruiting those two back to Norman would be major wins.

2. How quickly can he make good on his promise to fill up Lloyd Noble Center?

Moser likes a challenge, and proving he can get Lloyd Noble Center rocking is one he plans to tackle.

"I love when people say I can't do something," Moser said. "I love when people say I can't fill this thing night in and night out."

Immediately after his news conference, Moser spoke with OU cheerleaders and RUF/NEKS asking where on campus he should go to recruit students to games.

Considering OU's roster turnover, Moser might deserve some grace in his first year if the product isn't good and fans don't show. But there's no questioning whether or not he has building a home-court advantage on his mind.

"Whether it was I gotta go pass out hot dogs, whether I gotta go speak at their fraternity or sorority, sign me up," Moser said of his efforts in building Loyola's fanbase. "... I had an unbelievable relationship with the student body at Loyola, and I'm looking so forward to having that same relationship here at Oklahoma."

3. What type of style will he bring to the program?

Moser's Loyola squads were known for their gritty defense but he wants everyone to know the Ramblers, who made the 2018 Final Four and 2021 Sweet 16, were also just as good on offense.

"Five straight years in the Missouri Valley, first time in the history of that league, we led the league in field-goal percentage," Moser said.

Defense will be a major priority to Moser, and he believes offense will come along with it just fine.

"The style is defense is going to create offense," Moser said. "Defense is going to create turnovers and run and space and be efficient and play together."

4. Who will Moser hire as his assistant coaches?

Moser has yet to officially announce any of his assistant coaches, but two are reportedly already on board.

Moser has added KT Turner, a former Oklahoma City University standout, to his first staff, according to Stadium's Jeff Goodman.

Turner has solid recruiting ties to Oklahoma and Texas with his time as an assistant coach at SMU and Texas.

Northwestern assistant Emanuel Dildy is also expected to join Moser's staff, according to SoonerScoop.com. Dildy coached with Moser at Loyola from 2013-16.

5. Will Sister Jean be joining him in Norman?

"With Sister Jean, like everybody else, she's entering the transfer portal," Moser said with a laugh last Wednesday.

No, Sister Jean Schmidt, the iconic Loyola Chicago chaplain, will not be coming to OU along with Moser.

She's become one of college basketball's most recognizable figures since the Ramblers' 2018 Final Four run, gracing the stands for every Loyola game.

"She's been a true friend of mine, a true friend of the program before she became a worldwide celebrity," Moser said.

"I know this, she is one of the best people. She pours into those student-athletes. She pours into the coaches and we'll be friends for life. As long as we don't play the Ramblers, OU Sooners have a 101-year-old nun going to be praying for us."

Joe Buettner

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jbuettner@normantranscript.com