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Now a Duck, Moser's in right place, right time

Former Grant High star brings versatility to college hoops

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Former Grant High star forward Mike Moser celebrates as time runs out and Oregon posts a 71-64 victory against Illinois last Saturday at Moda Center. It was a lifetime ago that Mike Moser led Grant High to the 2008 basketball state championship. In the five years since, Moser has gone from UCLA to UNLV and finally back home to Oregon.

In his redshirt senior year, Moser has found happiness on the court. He also has become a centerpiece on the nationally ranked Ducks, who were 9-0 heading into Tuesday’s home game against UC Irvine.

“Mike is a very mature young man,” Oregon coach Dana Altman says. “He’s been tremendous to work with. His instincts are really good. He’s a team guy. He wants to win. It’s not about numbers for Mike, it’s about the win. He’s got all those intangibles.”

Moser’s talent always has been close to the surface. The 6-8, 210-pounder averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds per game his sophomore season at UNLV, before having a down year as a junior (7.1 points, 6.1 rebounds).

Through nine games at Oregon, Moser was averaging 14.9 points (second on the team) and 7.6 rebounds (first).

Moser has been swinging between center and power forward.

“Coach is putting me in great positions to be successful, whether it’s playing the 4 or the 5,” he says. “He puts me in good spots to get my shots.”

Oregon guard Damyean Dotson says Altman does a good job of making sure the other four players on the court have a strong sense of Moser’s strengths.

“When we run plays, we know where Mike is going to be,” Dotson says. “I know where to give it to him, I know where he likes to shoot it. There’s really no 4 who can guard him, so (when he’s at the 4) we’ve got a good isolation there.”

Including Moser, the Ducks have six players who are scoring in double figures, which has contributed to Moser’s .515 field-goal percentage.

“My teammates are really taking the pressure off me and making it easy to go out there and play,” Moser says. “I don’t have to force anything, because everyone on the team is so talented.”

Moser’s rebounding is a key ingredient to the Ducks’ offense.

“He’s a great player who goes to the glass,” Dotson says. “He gets rebounds on defense. We know he’s going to block out and go get the transition started. Him getting the ball out is really an advantage in the transition with us.”

Altman still has things he wants Moser to work on, starting with his defense.

“He’s got to take more charge defensively,” Altman says. “We want him to move his feet a little more, and he’s got to fight the dribble better.”

Even more pressing, Altman says, is for Moser to become more of a leader. While Moser has a wealth of basketball knowledge and experience, Altman says he has yet to see him use it to help his teammates.

“He’s got good basketball savvy, and he’s not helping some of his teammates by telling them what the heck to do,” Altman says. “He’s not using some of his experience like he should be.

“That’s what we want him to get better at. And we want him to be a more talkative guy on the defensive end and lead our ballclub. He knows the game. He’s got good basketball instincts. He just needs to help our team with that.”

Moser has some time left to achieve everything that Altman wants of him.

Oregon has two more nonconference games, both at home: 7:30 p.m. Saturday against BYU and noon on Dec. 29 versus Morgan State.

Then comes the Pac-12 regular season (Oregon opens Jan. 2 at Utah) and the conference tournament at Las Vegas beginning March 12.

As he works at getting better, Moser remains happy that his basketball pilgrimage finally brought him back to Oregon.

“Being a Duck is amazing,” he says.