The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Breaking News

College Sports

March 19, 2012

Moss was dominant in MSU’s 2004 run

It was one of those times when everything you do comes out gold, when you can do no wrong.

And to Zach Moss, the former MSU star, the 2004 run to the NAIA national championship was one of those times.

Moss — the most popular player ever at Mountain State, not to mention the best — knew it was coming. Add prophet to his list of attributes. Small-time cult hero. Best player to wear blue and white. And prophet. Not a bad threesome.

“I had this little notepad, and after the 2003 season I wrote down all my goals for 2004,” Moss said from France, where he is still playing professional basketball. “I wanted to win the championship, win player of the year, make first-team All-American, win tournament MVP, win region MVP. I wrote it all down.”

And in one dominant postseason run, Moss accomplished it all.

MSU has a chance to return to the top, battling Oklahoma Baptist tonight at 9 p.m. in the NAIA Fab Four.

But it’s important to trace the Moss run back a few years.

“When I was in high school (in Florida) we lost in the state championship game,” Moss said. “Every time we got to a championship, I lost.”

Same thing happened at MSU his junior year, after he transferred from Florida A&M.

The Cougars, riding the hot play of Reynardo Curry, advanced to the national title game, losing in overtime to Concordia, Calif.

“I found out we lost to Concordia on (assistant) coach (Dave) Barksdale’s birthday,” Moss said. “That almost made me cry. I was not going to lose in 2004.”

He didn’t, averaging 29 points and 12 rebounds as MSU beat Concordia 74-70 in MSU’s lone national championship victory.

That performance is still remembered. Moss was named to the NAIA’s 75th anniversary team.

“It’s special,” Moss said, after ordering KFC, in French. “My time in that city was special. I loved those guys, the coaches, my teammates. We had a lot of good times. It was a total team. Kortaa (Hall), Zane (Gilliard, now an assistant), Dwight (Anglade), TZ (Mersad Terzic) and Eddie (Starks), all played well. And of course, A.J.”

Ah, yes, A.J., Adrian Jackson, Moss’ former high school teammate and the sparkplug for MSU’s run at point guard.

In a win-one-for-the-Gipper moment, it was Jackson who inspired Moss.

He had gotten injured in the title game and Concordia was making a a late push.

“We go over to the bench during a timeout and A.J. looks at me and he’s got tears in his eyes,” Moss said. “He said, ‘We can’t lose this game.’ I said, ‘We ain’t losing.’ And I knew right there we were winning that game. I just could not lose that game after that.”

And that is the paradox that is Zach Moss. A beast on the floor, a big teddy bear off. Just a big kid at heart.

“Zach dominated that national tournament,” MSU coach Bob Bolen said. “He had a lot of good pieces around him, but he was the best player we ever had at Mountain State. Not only was he a dominating player, he was an intimidating player. His vertical was so high, he would dunk on top of people bigger than he was (at 6-foot-7). That would change games. He was feared in the low post.”

And the most loved. Post-games turned into the Moss show, when he always had a long line of quotable material and a longer line of local kids following him around.

“I used to love coming to the gym but coach Barksdale would never let me work the (MSU basketball) camp,” Moss said. “He said they’d never get any work done because the kids would all be looking at me and I’d do something goofy. He was right about that. I’m 30 now and I’m still the same way.”

The stories are also legendarily comedic.

After beating Georgetown, Ky., in the Fab Four in 2004, he saw Tigers’ coach Happy Osborne walking across the street in Kansas City.

“I told him to have a safe trip back to Georgetown,” Moss said. “I was just trying to be nice. I think coach thought I was being a smart (aleck).”

“Not only was Zach the best player, but he was one of the most enjoyable players we ever had here,” Bolen said. “I love the kid.”

1
Text Only
College Sports
  • Miners stop Lorain County 5-1

    The West Virginia Miners received a strong outing from starting pitcher Patrick LaGanke, and scored one run in each of the final five innings to defeat the Lorain County Ironmen 5-1 Thursday.

    July 25, 2014

  • Some topics of interest to area fans

    Tom Hart, a widely known retired Morgantown High School administrator and coach, continues to excel as one of the nation’s top bowlers

    July 25, 2014

  • 072514 WVU Replacing Sims a challenge for WVU

    Every year, almost every college football preview publication available lists one key statistic that most use to evaluate the prospects for any given football team — returning starters.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • WVU’s Worley clear starter at cornerback

    There were few bright spots in West Virginia University’s 4-8 football campaign last year, and even fewer on the defensive side of the football, where the Mountaineers gave up more than 455 yards and 33 points per game.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen to appear on ESPN special

    West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen will appear Wednesday on ESPN’s annual mid-summer college football coaches’ “car wash” — in which guests appear across multiple programs and platforms over one day.

    July 23, 2014

  • Holgorsen: WVU getting comfortable in new league

    Dana Holgorsen remembers the glory days of West Virginia University football — the ones that included conference championships and BCS bowl wins. In fact, he was part of one of those, leading the Mountaineers to a Big East championship and an Orange Bowl victory in his first season as head coach in 2011.

    July 23, 2014

  • 072314 miners Miners take series with Paints

    The way the West Virginia Miners see it, they don’t have the luxury of planning for tomorrow.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • WVU's Fleming signs with Yankees

    Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.

    July 22, 2014

  • WVU to kickoff 2018 season against Tennessee in Charlotte

    The Charlotte Sports Foundation (CSF) announced Tuesday morning that it has secured a regular season college football game for the city of Charlotte pitting the University of Tennessee against West Virginia University.

    July 22, 2014

  • Can summit of bigwigs really solve college athletics issues?

    I see where the Big 12 Conference is going to host in New York City what will be titled “A State of College Athletics Forum.”

    July 22, 2014

Saints Training Camp