John Carroll, Moran enjoying special year

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Pete Moran on the sidelines
Pete Moran was an assistant coach for his father for the past five years. But his exposure to John Carroll basketball started at age 13.
John Carroll athletics photo

By Joe Sager

It’s been a special year for John Carroll’s men’s basketball team – an OAC regular season championship, an OAC tournament title and a berth in the sectional round, so far.

JCU logo For first-year head coach Pete Moran, though, the season is extra meaningful – or will be once he finally lets it all sink in.

Moran took over for his dad, Mike, on the Blue Streaks’ bench this season. Mike enjoyed a successful 25-year run as John Carroll’s head coach. Pete served the past five years on his staff and was thrilled to succeed his father.

“When I turned 13, that’s when my father got the job at John Carroll. As a young kid growing up, knowing how much work my dad put in – he had three jobs before the John Carroll job. He had a painting business, was a Catholic school teacher and a basketball coach. He had three full-time jobs going on. So, seeing his work ethic, I couldn’t help but idolize him,” said Pete Moran, one of six children. “The sacrifices he made – I picked up on that at an early age. I always enjoyed coming to John Carroll games and was one of the biggest fans as a kid. When the opportunity arose to be the head coach, it was a surreal experience.”

It was more than just following his father’s footsteps. Pete Moran enjoyed four highly successful years as a player at John Carroll and the university remains special to him.

“All the good that has come out of my life is because of John Carroll University. From playing in the NCAA Tournament three times to playing with my younger brother, Matt, in the 2004 Final Four to meeting my wife, who was the captain of the cheerleading team to getting my diploma,” he said. “The bonds I established with my former teammates and teachers were special, too. There’s not a dollar amount I could donate to this program to show how much this university has meant to me and my family.

“I never envisioned myself anywhere other than John Carroll. We recruit quality kids and students and kids with quality families and kids who ultimately love to play the game of basketball. We have a great administration here. I am very excited and blessed to be part of this university.”

The success carried over this season. John Carroll, which graduated two first-team all-conference players, was picked to finish third in the OAC. Instead, the Blue Streaks finished first in the regular season and added the conference tournament title to boot. John Carroll (25-5) meets Augustana (24-5) on Friday to open sectional play.

“It’s kind of funny. I really haven’t been able to enjoy it. I’ve been focused on progressing throughout the last couple weeks,” Moran said. “Once the season is over, I’ll be able to reflect and celebrate more.”

He credits seniors Antonio Vuyancih, John Cirillo, Matt Csuhran and Brian Papach for the team’s long run.

“It’s kind of cheesy, but their leadership is the key to our success,” he said. “These guys really commanded the locker room and took the young kids under their wings in the early stages of the season. They compete at a high level. Without these four seniors, we’re not in this position.”

Vuyancih and Cirillo added to the memorable run when they both surpassed 1,000 points in the team’s last game – a 91-85 home triumph over Wooster.

“It was surreal, really, for Johnny and I to get that in the same game,” Vuyancih said. “We’re as close as any two teammates can be. To do it at home in front of family and friends was incredible.”

Those two players were happy to see Pete Moran take over this year.

“For me, it’s awesome playing for Pete. It was a really easy transition. They have really similar practice styles,” Vuyancih said. “One of the best things about it was the familiarity he had with us.”

“I was really happy to see it stay in the family,” Cirillo said. “They have different coaching styles. Mike Moran was a little bit of a screamer and a football-style guy. Pete Moran, we’re able to talk to him more. I like that part.”

Communication is something Pete emphasizes.

“Our style of play is very consistent. I played in his system for four years and coached in his system for five years,” he said. “I wanted to kind of put my own stamp on the program just in the way I communicate with the kids. Kids are raised differently than 10 years ago or 15 years ago. Not that it’s wrong, but these kids just respond differently. I am more into communicating and talking things out, rather than yelling at them. This group has really flourished with that kind of coaching. They want to be talked to and communicated with. I am not saying my father never did that, but I am more about explaining things than chewing guys out."

Pete Moran added his brother, Pat, to the coaching staff this season.

“He runs our offense. He was a very successful high school coach for 16 years. He calls all the plays – the last five years, I did all the offensive work under my father,” Pete Moran said. “I know Pat is big with film preparation. I know he is having the time of his life. I don’t think we’re in this positon without him, as well as the whole coaching staff, which is all John Carroll grads.”

Pete Moran just hopes to continue the success his father enjoyed at John Carroll. He feels fortunate to have him around, too.

“Everyone looks up to their father in a certain way. He’s a tremendous supporter and ambassador of this university,” he said. “There are two phrases a father can tell a son that gives a son chills up his spine – ‘I love you’ and ‘I am proud of you.’ That’s really hit home for me the last couple weeks.”