College Basketball: Efficient Moose handling his role for Brevard
By Mike London
Brevard’s Darius Moose considered taking an open 18-footer from the wing against Catawba on Wednesday night, but instead he passed the ball to guard Josh Roper and headed for the paint.
It was a shot Moose will take — and probably make — next season, but for now he’s a freshman with dues to pay and things to learn, while Roper is a senior leader and one of the SAC’s top players.
Moose, the Rowan County Player of the Year at Carson as a senior, has started every game for second-place Brevard (6-3, 4-1 SAC) and is averaging 6.3 points and 6.1 rebounds.
Those aren’t eye-popping stats, but he’s handling his role on a team built around the quickness and guile of guards Roper and Gaither Hendrix.
Moose has been awfully efficient. He’s shooting 58 percent from the floor and has committed just three turnovers all season, while playing 25 minutes per night.
“Everything’s been good except for the weather,” Moose said with a laugh. “It’s really cold up there.”
Moose’s season is headed in the right direction. He pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds in Brevard’s 80-75 win against Catawba and he had a career-high 14 points when the Tornados won 91-87 at home against Mars Hill on Saturday.
“Darius is having a fantastic freshman season,” Brevard coach Michael Jones said. “We’re very tickled with how he’s battling and competing.”
Moose wasn’t heavily recruited despite scoring 1,768 points in a four-year varsity career at Carson, mostly because he’s just 6-foot-3 and has always played inside.
But Moose has long arms and strong hands. That combination has enabled him to continue to get more than his share of rebounds in the SAC.
“We lost our inside players from last season (6-7 star Jonathan Whitson and 6-10 Sam Carlisle), and that’s why people motivated us by picking us for 10th this year,” Roper said. “I didn’t have any idea who our 4-man was going to be, but Moose has done everything. He’s played very big.”
While it was assumed Moose would have to move to the wing in college, he’s playing power forward in Brevard’s system. There were occasions against Catawba when Moose was the biggest guy on the floor for the Tornados.
Against Catawba, Moose had to guard either 6-6 Lee Martin, 6-5 Stuart Thomson or 6-6 Kejuan Mayo, and there were times when they shot and scored over him in the post.
“That’s kind of how it’s been all season,” Moose said. “I’ve played against 6-10 guys and against 240-pound guys. Everyone’s bigger. I just try to be physical and rebound.”
A Carson contingent that included coaches Brian Perry, Dadrian Cuthbertson and Avery Patterson and former teammates Nick Houston and Jarod Raper was on hand at Goodman Gym on Wednesday to support Moose.
“I thought it was really exciting, and we’re just awfully proud of him,” Perry said.
When starting lineups were introduced — “From Salisbury, North Carolina, Darius Moose!” — produced one of the bigger roars of the night.
Moose’s game didn’t produce any roars, but he didn’t try to do too much. His three buckets came off two stickbacks and an uncontested layup after Hendrix broke down the Catawba defense.
“I thought Moose played well,” Catawba coach Jim Baker said. “Very solid.”
The only sore spot for Moose was his 1-for-3 effort at the foul line, and one of those misses was the front end of a one-and-one.
“Moose makes all his free throws, he’s got himself a double-double,” Perry said.
Many made free throws and rebounds should be in Moose’s future. Maybe even a few 3-pointers.
“We expect very big things from Darius,” Jones said. “He’s been everything we thought he’d be.”
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