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Moser: There's No Secret, Time Needed for Oklahoma's Roster to Mesh

Porter Moser only has three remaining contributors from last year's team, a difficult undertaking for any coach, much less a new one.

New Oklahoma basketball head coach Porter Moser has a tough task ahead of him.

Replacing a coaching legend is never easy, especially when the legend stepping back is a widely beloved as Lon Kruger.

But Moser is also inheriting almost an entirely new roster.

After Kruger’s retirement, OU basketball players flocked to the transfer portal, and in left behind were only three guys who contributed major minutes last season in Elijah Harkless, Umoja Gibson and Jalen Hill.

As a result, Moser and his staff raided the portal themselves, assembling a roster of guys from all across the country, spanning from Duke to Eastern Washington.

And despite Moser’s NCAA Tournament success, taking Loyola Chicago to a Final Four, the energetic new head coach said there’s no magic formula when taking over a roster with so much turnover.

“There’s no secret, it’s just time,” Moser said at Big 12 Basketball Media Day on Wednesday morning in Kansas City. “You got to spend time building relationships with them. The one dynamic that’s different, sometimes when you take over… you’re inheriting maybe nine guys from the previous team and maybe they at least knew each other.

“Now, we had to sign nine and the nine you sign didn’t know each other and the guys that are back knew each other. So you’re trying to get them to build a camaraderie and togetherness as well as learn your system, and so the only answer to that is time.”

Regardless of the difficult undertaking, Moser is undeterred and demanding the best out of his team every single day in practice.

On Tuesday, Moser opened up the Lloyd Noble Center for an open practice, and the OU head coach’s energy was on full display.

Working through drill after drill to teach the new Sooner squad his defensive system, Moser and his assistants demanded not only the right plays on the court, but a high level of energy and communication from every member of the team, whether in the drill or watching from the baseline.

The empty area was filled with the defensive communication at times from the team, and Moser stopped practice to dress down his team when the cavernous Lloyd Noble Center went silent after running the same drill four or five times.

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Tanner Groves, Jalen Hill, Rick Issanza, C.J. Noland

Jalen Hill working against transfer Tanner Groves and freshman C.J. Noland in OU's open basketball practice on Tuesday

Moser demands that the team matches his energy on the floor, and it’s easy to see why his teams at Loyola Chicago were up for the challenge every March.

Harkless also was sent to represent the Sooners at Big 12 Media Day, and while he said he didn’t know too much about Moser coming in to Norman, his work at Loyola Chicago had turned the heads of the basketball world.

“I enjoyed their style of play,” Harkless said. “… And just to see that’s my coach coming in, it was kind of a dream come true to me.”

Harkless said the focus and intensity has stood out to him about Moser so far, and he’s loved working with him every day in practice because of it.

“He comes to practice every single day, has his energy going every single day,” Harkless said. “He’s just anxious to get better every single day and I think that’s contagious for everyone on the team. It just makes us want to practice even harder.”

But as Moser told a small group of local media after Tuesday’s practice, he’s just looking forward to getting back on the practice court with his team and continuing to improve, as he has to utilize every moment he gets with them to continue to improve ahead of the 2021 season.

“We were able to work with them in the summer, which is great but limited hours,” Moser said. “So that’s why you’re gonna continue to learn and continue to come together once these games start. Once you go through adversity, once you go through celebrations, you learn and you grow throughout that process.

“It’s definitely a work in progress coming together when you start like that new with so many new guys.”


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