In a career filled with varied experiences and accomplishments, Wisconsin men’s basketball assistant coach Howard Moore cites one decision as the one with the most tremendous impact on his life.
“Leaving Chicago for Wisconsin opened up another world for me,” he says. “My life went into a whole new direction, growing up in Chicago, the city, there’s a lot of directions I could’ve went in, I could’ve got in traps. I was fortunate to stay away from that. Going to Wisconsin definitely opened up my eyes. It must’ve been a good experience because I always come back.”
Coming to the University of Wisconsin in 1990 was one of the biggest decision for Moore and his future with coaching. It opened his eyes to basketball and pursuing the job of coaching. Moore knew he wanted to coach for Wisconsin, the place where he played college basketball, but he also always knew he wanted to be a head coach. Following through with that dream, Moore became an assistant coach for Wisconsin for Bo Ryan in 2005, and in 2010 left the Wisconsin bench to accept the head coaching job for the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).
While there he was a finalist for the Ben Jobe Award, given to nation’s top collegiate coaches. Moore says, “It was honor to be acknowledged for anything being at a place like UIC. We had a lot of challenges.”
The difference between Wisconsin and UIC was a major coaching shock for Moore; he says the change helped him coach with different people who had different styles of play while becoming a better coach as well. In Chicago, Moore gained experience that led him to return to his beloved alma mater for an assistant job for his beloved alma mater in 2015, following Ryan’s abrupt retirement.
So far, Moore has already dealt with major adjustments. Moore says, “When you are an assistant coach you always want to be a head coach. (Being a head coach) gave me a lot of experience. I had to make my own decisions, and I’m now a better assistant coach.”
Being an assistant coach at five different universities and head coach at one really changed his mindset on coaching, and also made him grow as a person and coach. “Each (head) coach was different,” he says. “The coach at Bradley, I gained a lot of knowledge from him because he was about defense and defense wins championships and games. I worked for Tim Buckley (at Bal State). I’ve learned how to run a program and the overall look on how to have a basketball program. Working with Coach Ryan I also learned how to run a big-time program and how to recruit to a big-time program and how to handle yourself in a big-time program. From every person and every school I was able to gain something that really built my DNA as a coach.”
Working at different colleges helped him in the long run to return to Wisconsin to assist Coach Greg Gard this year Moore now knows what Gard is going through and will know how to help. “(Being a head coach) put me in the position where I had to manage people, manage the players and that experience has made me a better assistant coach than I was. Coming back I can help because I’ve been in his shoes, I understand what he’s going through. I can give different perspectives better insight to the staff as well.”
Coming back to be an assistant coach at Wisconsin meant a lot when Gard gave him the call. “It really meant a lot being alumni, the university did a lot for me,” Moore says. “Coming up here means a lot to me. I met my wife here and our kids were born here. It’s always been a special place. When Coach Gard called me saying he wanted me to come back it wasn’t much thought. It was an easy decision.”
With the knowledge and experiences and how coaching at different universities has helped his coaching it will help Wisconsin players and the team to a great season. With his experiences he wants to pass it off to his players and the people around him, “Teach them life skills, when the ball stops bouncing you got to do something different, to prepare you for that day that basketball is over for you. There’s a time that the ball stops bouncing. What is your plan when that day comes.” As a coach he tries to instill core values into every player, so they’ll have a bright future outside of the basketball court.
What does Moore think his future holds? “We win a national championship in five years,” he says. “I will become an even better coach, father and husband. To give back to the community of Madison and Chicago. I’m big on giving back to the community. I want to be a better person and overall to continue to grow.”