Once told he’d never play again, Moss hits stride at UB
Moss’ 14 contribute to Bulls’ victory over Western Michigan
Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014 18:01
Two years ago, Justin Moss was diagnosed with a heart condition and told he would never play basketball again.
Wednesday night, he scored a season-high 14 points to help the Bulls (11-6, 5-2 Mid-American Conference) defeat Western Michigan (11-8, 4-3 MAC), 84-63, at Alumni Arena.
Moss, a sophomore forward on the men’s basketball team, is in his first season with the Bulls after transferring from Indian Hills Community College. Against the Broncos, Moss came off the bench and made an immediate impact, adding a career-high six rebounds in just 17 minutes. Head coach Bobby Hurley said after the game that Moss had been emerging as of late.
The 17 minutes were also a season-high for Moss, who averaged just under seven minutes a game and scored only 18 points in his previous 10 games prior to Wednesday night.
Moss said he understands he has to start from the bottom and go through the ranks to get more playing time. The lack of scoring numbers did not bother Moss, however, who believes he can contribute in other ways.
“When I have my time, I have to get in to grab rebounds and do hustle plays,” Moss said. “Even though plays aren’t being called for me, I can still give 100 percent effort. As long as we’re winning and I’m grabbing rebounds, I don’t necessarily have to score.”
Moss was involved in a highlight-reel play against Western Michigan.
In the first half on Wednesday night, senior guard Jarod Oldham stole the ball from a Broncos player and then passed the ball behind his back to freshman guard Shannon Evans on the fast break. Moss followed his two point guards down the court, received a behind-the-back pass from Evans and completed the easy layup. The play made espn.com.
“I actually thought Jarod was going to pass it to me,” Moss said. “I was surprised he passed it to Shannon and then Shannon passed it to me. It was a great energizing play. We had a lot of fun last night and enjoyed it.”
Moss’ teammates playfully gave him grief for laying up the ball as opposed to dunking it, as they believed the video would have made SportsCenter had Moss slammed it down.
Bleacher Report reported the video, and by 4 p.m. on Thursday, it had over 8,000 views on YouTube.
Moss had originally committed to MAC rival Toledo coming out of high school in 2011, but he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy before he could play one minute with the Rockets.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart that causes a buildup of scars and tissues and can often lead to cardiac arrest. The sports medicine staff at Toledo originally believed Moss would no longer be able to compete in competitive athletics.
In Nov. 2011, however, Moss received an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) in his chest, which monitored his heart rhythms. Moss said the device allows him to play basketball without any complications.
“It was heartbreaking news,” Moss said. “But after I found out I could play again with the ICD, it became easy to adjust to it.”
Moss said his personal goals for the rest of the season are to continue to rebound, bring more energy off the bench and make his teammates enthusiastic about playing defense.
The Bulls led by as many as 18 in the first half of their game against the Broncos on Wednesday night and led 39-25 going into the break. It was Western Michigan that came out of the half looking like the better team, though. The Broncos went on a 19-15 run to start the second half, which cut the Bulls’ lead to 10 points and made the score 54-44.
Evans, however, hit one of his three 3-pointers, which began an 8-0 run for the Bulls and returned the momentum to Buffalo. The Bulls’ lead remained at least 15 points for the rest of the game.
The Bulls’ defense limited the Broncos’ leading scorer, guard David Brown, to 11 points and just 3-for-13 shooting. Hurley credited Oldham for slowing Brown down.
“Jarod Oldham was great on defense,” Hurley said. “I thought he did a great job on Brown, particularly in the second half getting after him with ball pressure.”
Brown appeared flustered at times by Oldham’s defense, particularly after one play in which Oldham slapped the ball out of his hands while Brown was looking to the bench for a sign.
Senior guard Josh Freelove scored all of his points in the second half, as he overcame an 0-for-6 shooting performance in the first half to finish with 14 points. Senior forward Will Regan added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Sophomore guard Jarryn Skeete missed his second straight game due to a knee injury. Hurley said Skeete’s status is day to day.
The Bulls next travel to Bowling Green (9-10, 3-3 MAC) on Sunday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.