COLUMBIA — It bothered Nate Edwards that Steve Moore’s tireless hustle was going unnoticed. And Edwards got vocal about it.
Now, he’s got about 4,000 people chanting along with him.
ONE-MINUTE GAME GUIDE:
Missouri (18-6, 6-3 Big 12) vs. Baylor (18-5, 5-4 Big 12)
When: 12:30 p.m.
Where: Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas
Radio: KFRU/1400 AM,
MU leads 12-9; MU won 73-60 last year in Big 12 Tournament final.
Limit possessions: The Bears are the second-best shooting team in the Big 12 and are known for shooting the ball from anywhere. Missouri needs its pressure defense to kick in on the road.
Coach: Scott Drew, 7th season
LAST SEASON: 24-15
(5-11 Big 12)
THE SKINNY: No. 24 Baylor has a marquee win at No. 14 Texas and nearly won at No. 1 Kansas. The Bears are just a game behind the Tigers in the conference standings. Baylor has been one of the league’s best rebounding teams, which could cause problems for the undersized Tigers.
Be a bully: Baylor starts two 6-foot-10 players and has two 7-footers on the bench. It won’t be surprising if the Bears try to throw the ball into the post and outmuscle Missouri inside.
Ekpe Udoh: The 6-foot-10 center has been a hot topic since transferring from Michigan. The junior leads the Big 12 with 4.2 blocks per game, and he’s also averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds.
What started early in the season as a one-man scream and personal mission to recognize the effort of Moore, a sparingly used forward on the Missouri men’s basketball team, has been amplified into a popular chant that echoes around Mizzou Arena during games.
Edwards, who plays the trombone in Mini Mizzou, the MU band that performs at basketball games, turned the audience for his chant into his own chorus. Any time Moore makes even the smallest contribution to a play, a majority of the students standing behind one of the baskets voice Edwards’ message.
“Steve,” they shout in a low-pitched tone, elongating the name. It sounds like a herd of cows mooing in unison.
Edwards was ecstatic that his chant was quickly picked up by fellow band members and fans in Zou Crew, the official student cheering group.
“Everybody can do it,” said Brad Fischer, a fan and former Zou Crew director who stands in the third row each game. “It’s not anything you have to learn.”
But Edwards, Fischer and several other fans said Moore’s workman-like style of play and the nearly 40 pounds he lost in the offseason also explain why the chant caught on so fast.
“I think it’s pretty clear that he’s a pretty hard worker, just from the way he came in and how much more in shape he is now,” Fischer said.
Several students compared the new Mizzou Arena tradition to the “Bruce” chant St. Louis Rams fans used to shout for star wide receiver Isaac Bruce. But Edwards got the idea from a source even closer to home.
“At the football games, for Sean Weatherspoon, everyone would scream ‘Spoon,’” Edwards said. “And I thought that was always really cool that we did that. And Steve Moore, he doesn’t see a lot of playing time … and I feel like he doesn’t get the respect that most of our other players on the team do get. So whenever he’s out there busting his butt, I want to recognize his effort, so I figured the best way of doing that would be to scream his name.”
At first Edwards just let his own scream go without any thought, but he recognized it had potential.
“It kind of started with me just screaming ‘Steve Moore’ at the top of my lungs, but then I realized that you could kind of turn that into a ‘Spoon’ kind of thing, so I just started saying ‘Steve’ anytime he’d do something or come out on the court or do anything really,” Edwards said.
No kidding. The chants start when Moore so much as steps onto the floor. Sometimes Edwards and his mass of supporters let the chant loose when Moore simply gets off the bench and heads to the scorer’s table to check in.
“Whenever he comes in the game, whenever he gets a rebound, whenever he just touches the ball, there’s at least a few people who start it,” Fischer said.
During Missouri’s win against Iowa State on Wednesday, the chant even sounded after Moore got a few fingers on a ball coming off the rim that eventually wound up with one of his teammates.
“I think it’s got to be odd that every time he touches the ball, it’s being yelled ‘Steve,’” Fischer said.
What makes it even more unusual is Moore’s status as coach Mike Anderson’s least-used player in his 10-man rotation.
But then again, that’s the point.
“He’s definitely not a marquee player like Zaire (Taylor) or J.T. (Tiller) or Kimmie (English), but he’s still working just as hard as all those guys,” Edwards said.
Moore has actually seen his role increase this year. He’s playing 9.6 minutes a game, twice as much as last season. Although he doesn’t always use it effectively, Moore’s 6-foot-9, 264-pound frame gives Anderson a big body to spell Missouri’s undersized group of forwards or give the team a boost by scrapping for rebounds or diving for a loose ball.
As Moore has become a more regular part of games, so has the “Steve” chant.
Moore didn’t know how the chant got started, but he smiled and giggled when asked about it.
“I don’t know where it came from, but I love it,” he said. “It gets me motivated. It gets me pumped when I come in the game. I love it for that. Then the band, they’re just supporting me and our team a lot. But I love the Steve chant.
“It just makes me seem like I’m a tough guy. Big man on campus, something like that.”
Edwards said Moore became a favorite within Mini Mizzou after he started to stop by and chat with some of the band members at their hangout spot at what Edwards called ‘The Wall’ outside Ellis Library.
“That just added to it,” Edwards said. “That just added to me wanting to recognize his efforts out on the court.”
Edwards’ own effort has sure paid off. And while his chant has developed into a favorite for thousands of fellow fans, it has brought a grin to the face of Moore, the man it was intended for.
“It’s just something that’s fun and easy to do. It looks like he (Moore) gets a kick out of it,” said Dan Grote, a fan and current Zou Crew director. “Like every time he hears it, it looks like he’s smiling a little.”