When you walk into men’s basketball head coach Mike Moran’s corner office in the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center, the first thing you will probably notice is that all four of his walls are entirely lined with plaques, awards and basketballs commemorating the success of the JCU men’s basketball program.
On Dec. 10, 2014, Moran added another accomplishment to his walls. On that day, he achieved his 400th career win against Ohio Northern University. Only four other coaches in the history of the Ohio Athletic Conference have achieved this feat.
Many coaches view these sorts of accolades as signs of success. However, that couldn’t be further from Moran’s definition of success. For him, it’s about what his players accomplish.
“The thing is, it’s not a ‘me’ type of thing,” said Moran. “I didn’t win a game. How many points have I scored at John Carroll? Zero. And right now, I’m lucky if I could make a foul shot if you locked me in a gym by myself.”
“It’s a tribute to the kids,” Moran continued. “I’ve had a lot of very good kids and very successful kids when they have left here, which I think is probably our biggest and most shining accomplishment. I mean that’s what it’s about. Basketball is great game. It puts bread on the Moran Family table, but more importantly, it’s a good piece of leverage kids can use in the real world.”
While he attributes his accomplishments to his players, Moran’s successful record speaks for itself. He has coached teams that have won 10 regular-season OAC Championships along with three conference tournaments. His players have reached the NCAA Tournament 10 times, including a Final Four appearance with the number three team in the country in 2004. Through the course of his 23-year career, he has a 404-213 record.
Before coming to JCU, Moran was one of the most respected high school coaches in the area at St. Joseph High School in Cleveland (now Villa Angela-St. Joseph, and ended his career with a 224-53 record and two state titles.
According to these statistics, it’s clear that Moran is instrumental to his teams’ successes. This is more than likely because of his out-of-the-box coaching style. For the last 15 years, Moran has implemented a unique five in, five out platoon style system. The coaching style is unique in because he subs in five players at a time as opposed to a lesser number, a technique that has garnered him some national attention with comparisons to University of Kentucky coach John Calipari. However, Moran says the system is dependent on the players he recruits.
“We have to find kids who want to be part of a successful team,” said Moran. “They are more concerned about reading about their team in the newspaper than they are about themselves, their individual stats.”
Moran is not one to keep track of successes. He didn’t even know the ONU game would be his 400th win until two days before. Yet, he is quick to give credit to those around him, expressing what the JCU community and his job mean to him.
“It’s like a family member,” he said. “It’s part of me. I would like to think that my name is synonymous with John Carroll, and I hope with a successful program. I’m blessed. It’s not a bad job. It beats working for a living.”