2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 3/21/2018 7:59 PM

Moser always had a believer in Ed Molitor Jr.

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By Marty Maciaszek
Daily Herald Correspondent

College recruits often have some memorable stories from their on-campus visits.

Ed Molitor Jr. was a senior at Palatine in 1988 when he made a trip to Creighton University. His host in Omaha, Nebraska was another Chicago-area guy who played basketball at Benet Academy named Porter Moser.

Molitor has not forgotten all of the crazy details from 30 years ago.

"We took the money (assistant) coach (Dick) Fick gave us and went to the Burger King drive-thru," Molitor said with a laugh. "All we did was sit in his dorm room and watch the Bulls in the playoffs. It was awesome.

"We're sitting in the room and the guys are all there hanging out and you could sense they were building something. Then my childhood hero James Farr (star fom 1985 Class AA state champion Mt. Carmel) walks in. There was something unique about that group and Porter had a lot to do with it."

Not unlike the unique group Moser has molded into the fourth team in Loyola history to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. And one of the key characteristics Molitor saw in their two years as teammates at Creighton, and the two years they were assistant coaches together at Texas A&M, was still evident when he went to watch the Ramblers win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament title in St. Louis and the dramatic NCAA second-round game over Tennessee in Dallas.

"There are a lot of egos," Molitor said of the college coaching fraternity, "and Porter is not one of those guys."

Molitor played 20 games as a walk-on and Moser was a starter as Creighton went to the NCAA and NIT in 20-win seasons in 1988-89 and 1989-90 under the venerable Tony Barone.

The younger Molitor knew the characteristics of sideline success since his dad Ed won more than 500 games in a head coaching career where he spent the last 32 of his 39 years at Palatine after starting at Marist. Looking back, it's easy for Ed Molitor Jr. to see Moser where he is today.

"When you're young you don't really think about that, but Porter always had the love and passion for basketball," said Molitor, who played his last two college seasons at St. Ambrose in Davenport, Iowa. "He was a junkie. He couldn't stop talking about how much he loved going to (legendary DePaul coach) Ray Meyer's basketball camps in the summer.

"He knew every player and had a really high basketball IQ. He was a very good player because of all the little things he did. When he got out of college I absolutely knew he was going to go into coaching."

There were also plenty of instances for Moser to get out of the profession. He was fired at Illinois State after working for three athletic directors in four years.

And the two years they worked together for Barone at Texas A&M were rough. They won only 16 games total and saw the man who coached them get fired.

It was a long and challenging road to become the centerpiece of one of the great stories in college basketball.

"Nothing he's done surprises me," said Molitor. "What people haven't seen is the grind he's gone through."

Molitor said Moser's tireless recruiting works because of his relationship-building and authenticity. Once players get there, his ability to show, and not just tell them what to do, is another difference-maker.

And there is perseverance. Finally, in his seventh season at Loyola, he has the program back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since its Sweet 16 trip in 1985.

"The thing about Porter is he's never given up hope with Loyola," Molitor said. "He always had a different vision of the job than other people did -- including people in the business."

Now Loyola is on the verge of accomplishing something few envisioned at a school that had its moment of glory with an NCAA championship in 1963. Molitor, who lives in Batavia with his wife and two young children and runs The Molitor Group, which helps businesses with leadership performance training, couldn't make the Nevada game in Atlanta. His goal is to be there Saturday to see another shining moment for his former teammate, coaching colleague and friend.

"There has never been a doubt in my mind -- it's just a matter of when," Molitor said of Moser's success. "Porter always kept the faith.

"When things were ending at A&M we'd talk and say, 'What are we going to do?' He was determined he was going to stay with it. It's pretty awesome."

marty.maciaszek@gmail.com

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