Olseni falls to Moore's stellar return

BY DANNY PAYNE | JUNE 23, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Prime Time League is all about size. Four out of the five first-round selections stand more than 6-8, with the exception being Iowa point guard Mike Gesell. The league’s season-opener on June 19 was no exception.

Malcom Moore — taken in the fourth round of the draft by coach Dan Ahrens — was given the task of defending Hawkeye center and No. 1 overall pick Gabe Olaseni. This was no easy task for the former City High standout, especially in his first competitive game back after an injury to his left meniscus only allowed him limited time in his senior year at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“It was the first time I could play at full strength in a while,” Moore said. “I played pickup games and stuff, but I haven’t really played in a competitive league since.”

His first time back wasn’t bad by any means. Moore posted a double-double with 17 points on an extremely efficient 7-of-9 performance from the floor, grabbed 13 rebounds, and dished out 2 assists.

Add that all on top of leading a double- and sometimes triple-team defense on Olaseni virtually all night.

“I’ve never been double-teamed in my life,” the 6-10 center said after his team lost to Moore’s, 83-69.

The Hawkeye still managed to post 15 points but went 5-of-19 from the paint. Olaseni also used his height to grab 17 boards.

Still impressive numbers, yes, but the point here is that, in a matchup that some thought Olaseni would dominate, Moore had other thoughts and played at a level that surpassed his opponents.

“Malcolm was the key; Malcom was the key to the game,” Ahrens said. “He changes everything.”

If his season début was any indication, things could be changing for not only his team but also for Moore himself — finally.

Before his final college season in Milwaukee, he suffered an injury-plagued career at Texas-El Paso. After playing a large role in the Little Hawks’ state championship in 2008, Moore played in junior college, then transferred to the school down South.

His career in Texas wasn’t spectacular due to an ACL tear, and now after all of that, he’s back home and playing in the Prime Time League.

“I forgot they even had this league; I haven’t played in it in about three years,” Moore said. “I was just looking for somewhere to play, and I said ‘Oh, what about that Prime Time League?’ ”

He’s playing with brother Jerel Moore and also with current Hawkeyes Jarrod Uthoff and newcomer Brady Ellingson. Ahrens’ team posted the stoutest defensive performance in the first week — outside of it, the next lowest-scoring team gave up 91 points.

Like many other Prime Time players, the goal is to get some game-speed repetitions in and stay in shape over the summer, but for Moore, this is a stepping stone to get back to the player he thinks he can be.

“I’ve been hurt since my junior year in college; I’m just getting back to full strength,” Moore said. “I’m just excited … as the summer progresses on, I’ll get more and more in shape and just see what happens.”

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