After last night's exciting Deveroes exhibition that saw James White lead his UC-heavy Slats squad to victory on a late three-pointer, you could see the passion and desire to win on the faces of all those who laced them up Tuesday night. White shouting at his big men for not playing tough enough in the paint, Jihad Muhammed jawing with the rival team and the fans, and DeAndre Coleman celebrating after knocking down a pair of crucial last minute free throws, each of these moments emphasized how much these Bearcats longed to win. While winning is an important part of basketball, one of the game's top performers just seemed to be happy to be able to get back on the floor and play some ball.
"Man, I am just glad to be out there running with my teammates, just having fun being with them and playing the game," said former Bearcat Chadd Moore, the 6-2 guard who was forced to leave the UC squad last February due to chronic back problems. Moore, a native of Alabama, still remains on scholarship at Cincinnati, so the trip across town to play with his former squad is something he desired to do -- but just needed the invitation to do so.
"I was just glad to hear that my teammates wanted me to come out and play with them. Even though I am not playing basketball anymore for UC, that doesn't mean I can't play the game."
Moore played in 24 of the Bearcats' first 28 games last season (five starts) before realizing that his two years with constant pain were too much for him to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Moore averaged 3.3 points and 2.5 assists, to go along with 21 steals and 10 blocked shots, while averaging 15 minutes per game and tallied his first-ever double-double (10 points/10 assists) in a win over LaSalle on Dec. 22.
Moore's current two-game stint in the Summer League is helping to bring back fond memories of his basketball glory days wearing the red and black of UC.
"Every time I run up and down the floor it seems like it a brings back memories of when I was playing with [the Bearcats]," said Moore about playing in the run-down old gym of Woodward.
However, not all of the Slats members bring back memories of his playing days, as several of the kids on the club are still yet to have played a regular season game on the campus at Clifton. This experience is giving Moore the chance to relive the basketball glory days that to this point have passed him by, while simultaneously helping UC by taking the Bearcat pups under his tutelage. In particular, explosive little man Devan Downey has been influenced by the addition of Moore to his summertime team.
"Having Chadd on the team just gives me another mentor on the court," said Downey."
"Whether I'm playing with him or watching from the bench, it gives me a chance to learn from another quality point guard. Chadd and Jihad are both pulling me aside and giving me pointers on what to do in certain situations and encouraging me to play hard, and since they've been there it means a lot. I really get the best of both worlds. They are two different style point guards, Jihad being more of a scoring guard or fastbreak guard and Chad being more of a slow-down, passing guard, so I get the chance to learn and develop a couple different styles."
While Moore wishes he weren't faced with the situation where he has to basically train his own replacement, the would-be senior guard and ultimate team player embraces the role weaning the young lead guard.
"Devan's real quick and is more of a scoring guard like Jihad, but I think he could take a little bit from watching my style of play as well. I don't know if I am coaching him or anything like that, but the whole team just pulls the young guys aside and gives them tips or clues on what to do when we see them making mistakes or when they look a little lost on the court."
The fact that Moore and the UC players still look at each other as teammates is something that should definitely be looked at in terms of any potential of having Moore come back and join the UC basketball family in the role we have grown accustom to seeing him in.
"I would love to play. Those are my teammates and I love the game of basketball, but I don't know man. I'd have to talk to Coach Huggins and see how I feel in three or four months before I decide anything. I've missed being out there, so who knows what will happen if I am feeling good in a few months."
While probably not the goal of his summertime trek down to Bond Hill three times each week, The Deveroes affords Moore the opportunity to see if his body could withstand the daily grind of big-time college basketball.
"It has been four or five months since I've really had a chance to play and this has really been good for me. It gives me a chance to get my wind back and play some serious minutes without all the stress that college basketball has on my body. Where I go from here, who knows, but I'm just really glad to be out here and feeling good."
Whether or not it is at the Fifth Third Arena or some other Division I venue across the country is yet to be seen, but one thing that is for certain is that you will find Chadd Moore on a basketball court somewhere this year. However, for Moore, his family, and all those associated with the larger Bearcat family, a return trip to the UC lineup is something that this much-maligned hoopster and all parties involved would benefit from.
"I am not sure what capacity I will be associating with the team in the future, but I'll always be a Bearcat and Cincinnati will always feel like home to me."