tampabay.com

Lone senior Adrian Moss aces his exit exam

By JOHN SCHWARB
Published April 4, 2006


INDIANAPOLIS - Adrian Moss' name will never be prominent in the Florida record books. But that's not to say he won't be remembered, not after this farewell performance.

Coming off the bench Monday night at the RCA Dome, the fifth-year senior provided the spark that allowed the Gators to bring home their first NCAA title. In the 73-57 win over UCLA, Moss' nine points and five rebounds in the first half led the team and led the way to a decisive victory.

"You ask to get your chance, you've got to make good," Moss said.

This Florida championship team will forever be remembered for its outstanding sophomore class, featuring starters Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Taurean Green and Corey Brewer. Moss was the lone senior, used sparingly as a reserve force on the inside. He only started one game all season.

Monday was another night of spot duty, but it was spectacular. The 6-foot-9, 247-pound forward entered the game when it was four minutes old, and on his second trip down the floor grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back to give the Gators a 15-8 lead.

On his second tour of duty later in the half he added a free throw and another basket, then helped maintain Florida's comfortable margin with another basket in the paint, making it 32-22 with 5:45 left.

Fittingly, the 25-year-old tallied the final points of the half on two free throws, earned after another offensive rebound. Florida went into halftime up 36-25 and never relinquished the double-digit margin.

"He came in and gave us a lot of intensity, a lot of passion, a lot of heart," Brewer said.

Talk about passing the exit exam.

During Florida's previous five wins in the tournament, Moss had a total of six points, all in an 82-60 second-round win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In the three wins that followed over Georgetown, Villanova and George Mason, Moss played no more than six minutes and collected a total of three rebounds.

For his entire UF career, Moss averaged 2.8 rebounds and 3.7 points in four years. His best season was 2003-04, when he started 16 of 31 games and averaged 6.8 points and 4.6 rebounds. His upperclassman years were plagued by injury, as he missed nine games as a junior with a lower back ailment and had two surgeries before this season, one on his back and another on his right knee.

But as the buzzer sounded near the stroke of midnight Monday, those details were banished to the back burner forever, replaced by the finale of a lifetime.

"He's going out a winner," Brewer said. "He can say I won my last game and I'm a national champion."