Don Ryan / AP
Friday, March 14, 2014 | 2 a.m.
It’s Wednesday night and Mike Moser is sitting in the corner of Oregon’s locker room in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, which happens to be at the center of his collegiate basketball life.
Down the road is UNLV, where Moser spent three seasons. Awaiting him the next day is UCLA, where he spent his freshman season. And coaching that team now is Steve Alford, whom Moser played against as a Rebel.
There’s even a connection to the top of the Pac-12 tournament bracket, because before the Portland native embarked on a career that has taken him to three schools under four coaches with more than 40 teammates, he originally committed to top-seeded Arizona.
“It’s not odd to me,” Moser said of his college career. “I’ve always followed the path I thought was right. I don’t feel like I left any schools ill-willed or that I got kicked off the team or anything. I just thought, I don’t want to be here anymore and moved to another spot.”
Oregon’s tournament run ended Thursday night when Alford’s Bruins turned a two-point game at halftime into a 19-point rout. Moser’s career isn’t quite done, though, as Oregon is expected to get an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament.
After Wednesday’s 14-point victory against Oregon State, the former first-team All-Mountain West pick reflected on his time at UNLV, Oregon’s late-season turnaround and what he’s learned along the way.
What’s it like returning to Las Vegas?
It’s been cool. It’s been like coming back home to be honest with you because I was here for so long. It’s cool seeing a lot of people from Vegas that I know.
You nearly went pro after your redshirt sophomore season, when you averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Do you think about how different things would be if you had done that?
Definitely. I had an opportunity at the time but I think as much as I’ve learned in these last two years is just as valuable an experience I could have had.
You’re coming up on the end of your career. Have you thought of your pro prospects right now?
I’m not even thinking about it. I’m really just trying to win a championship. Eight games ago we were 2-8 in the conference. We weren’t good at all. Those kind of opportunities you don’t even think about and then we’re just kind of playing. There aren’t a lot of outside motivations like that. We’re just playing.
What has been the best part of picking Oregon as your final destination?
Being at home; being closer to my family. It’s been great being in Eugene. The Nike stuff is really cool as well.
You’re on a roll lately with back-to-back Pac-12 Player of the Week awards. What’s the biggest difference between your game now and when you were playing well at UNLV?
Mentality part. I let it come more than force it. I’m a little smarter with things. Nothing’s really rushed. It’s all at a good pace.
You’ve had four coaches in five years. What has it been like to be in that many different systems and what are some differences between current coach Dana Altman and former coach Dave Rice?
Dana gives you a certain amount of freedom, but he likes it his way. He runs a tighter ship, more discipline. Dave is more free, which can be good and bad at times. And I’d say the same thing as far as teammates. You get a different view of a lot of different people. I’ve learned how to deal with a lot of different people. Switching coaches hasn’t really been an issue because I learned to deal with so many different personalities.
So do you still have gear from each one of your stops?
(Laughs). No, I’ve definitely made some donations to some nonprofits.
Do you think you needed a fresh start after the injury last season?
Yeah, I think I needed a change of scenery. Last year was tough for me and I made it tougher being away from home.
You seem pretty happy with everything. Is that accurate?
I feel so good. There’s not a lot of stress. There’s not any feeling I’ve got to show this off or I’ve got to prove I feel good, you know. I mean, I feel good. I’m just playing. I’m playing with a lot of really talented guys and we’re just sharing the ball, playing together and working our asses off on defense. There’s not pressure. It’s just playing, having fun.
The main story out of last year’s season was how fractured the roster was. How accurate was that?
It’s not as true as people think. People have to understand that Coach Rice came in as a new coach and he was trying to get things going his way. Naturally, there’s going to be fracturing, guys leaving or transferring for him to start putting in his philosophies. I think it’s a natural occurrence. Also, you then lose a No. 1 pick, it’s not easy either. I know he gets a lot of heat here, which I hate to see because there’s so much more that goes into it than people probably realize. Especially as a coach, there’s only so much you can control.
Well, one thing he can control is Katin Reinhardt’s minutes…
(Laughs). That’s a whole nother story.