ST. LOUIS — Porter Moser remembered a close friend who helped him get through one of the toughest times in his life Thursday after receiving the Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year award.
Moser led Loyola to its first outright conference title in 33 years. He paid homage to the late Rick Majerus, who hired Moser as an assistant coach at Saint Louis after Illinois State fired Moser in 2007.
“We did it the right way at Saint Louis with really good kids, kids from winning programs. They went to three straight NCAA tournaments with kids I recruited,” said Moser. “I thought we were doing that at Illinois State. I took a seven-year deal. In year four we had everyone back (the next season before getting fired). Circumstances happen in your life.”
What Majerus, who died in 2012, did, said Moser, was “he reassured me of doing it the right way. Don't skip steps. Do it with great kids, kids who love the game and who have won before.”
Moser, who took the Loyola job in 2011, captured 40 of 47 first-place votes for 123 points to easily outdistance Niko Medved of Drake (65) and Barry Hinson of Southern Illinois (64). Brian Wardle of Bradley finished fourth (17), while Illinois State's Dan Muller was fifth (9).
Medved picked up four first-place votes, while Hinson got two and Wardle one in voting of league coaches, sports information directors and a media panel.
Loyola comes into Friday's quarterfinal game with a 25-5 record, its most regular-season wins since 1948. The Ramblers' 15 league wins were the most in their history, surpassing the previous total of 13 set by the 1984-85 squad that won the Midwestern Collegiate Conference.
Evans not out to prove himself: When the all-Valley teams were released Tuesday, a glaring omission was ISU's Keyshawn Evans. The junior guard finished as the league's fifth-leading scorer with a 15.6 average and his 85 3-pointers are third highest in the Valley, but he wasn't among the top 15 players listed.
Muller expressed his disappointment afterwards. Redbird junior Milik Yarbrough, an all-league first-team selection, said he was motivated for the MVC Tournament by Evans' omission.
When asked if being left off the team would have him trying to prove himself during Arch Madness starting with Friday's 8:30 p.m. quarterfinal game against Indiana State, Evans just smiled.
“I don't feel like I have to come out and prove anything. I'll still go out there and play hard,” he said. “I was going to play hard whether I made the team or not. I'm not necessarily thinking about the all-Missouri Valley teams. I'm just worried about going out there and playing for my team.”
Brown in for Bradley: After having avoided the play-in round for the first time since 2010, fifth-seeded Bradley (19-12) thought it might be without its point guard for Friday's 2:30 p.m. quarterfinal game against No. 4 Drake (16-15).
Darrell Brown suffered a badly sprained ankle in Saturday's season finale against Indiana State. The sophomore, who averages 13.3 points and 4.5 assists per game, was in a protective boot all week until practicing Thursday.
“We had light practice (Thursday) morning … he did some things and felt pretty good, a little pain here or there,” said Wardle. “I think he'll be ready to play.”
Timmer, Custer share honor: Reed Timmer of Drake and Clayton Custer of Loyola were named co-winners of the MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. It was the first time a pair of student-athletes shared the award.
Timmer is the first in league history to win the Scholar-Athlete award three times. He is a senior guard and all-league first-team selection who holds a 3.47 grade-point average in pharmacy. Custer, the Larry Bird Trophy winner as the league's most valuable player, is a redshirt junior with a 3.52 GPA majoring in finance.
Joining Timmer and Custer on the Scholar-Athlete first team were Nick McGlynn of Drake (3.53 GPA, media production), Ben Richardson of Loyola (3.41, finance) and Blake Simmons of Evansville (3.86 marketing).
Like a good neighbor … Bloomington-based State Farm Insurance will continue as title sponsor of the MVC Tournament through 2021, it was announced during the Coach of the Year Luncheon.