Mooney is 'moooved' to succeed
When Ian Mooney doffs his warm-ups and comes into a game, the Erwin Center sounds like the home of an FFA convention.
There are "moo's" cascading from the upper deck of the arena when this junior transfer from St. Louis University enters the fray.
It’s quite a tribute to a young man who does most of his work for the Texas Basketball team away from the bright lights and the raucous crowd.
And it hasn’t gone unnoticed by coach Rick Barnes.
“I think Ian plays Kevin Durant tougher than anyone,” said Barnes, referring to his super freshman.
Mooney, who sat out last year after coming from SLU, was pleased with those comments from Barnes.
“You always like to hear that from your coach,” he said with a laugh.
However, it is not the only place where Mooney has made his mark in his short time at UT.
Mooney, who was the recipient of the Jay Arnette Award in 2006 and was on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll, is the Male Student-Athlete of the Month.
“It’s kind of a surprise,” Mooney said of the Student-Athlete of the Month honor. “Really, it kind of came out of the blue. I never thought I would get it. I’ve just been doing basic school work.”
Nothing basic, however, in being the recipient of the Athletics Director’s Award for Academic Excellence, as Mooney was.
He believes his work with deaf and hard-of-hearing youth may have been a reason for his Student-Athlete of the Month recognition.
“In one of my communications classes, we learned sign language,” said Mooney, who is a corporate communications major. “I volunteered to work with those who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. It was really cool.
“And I feel great about being able to communicate with a group of people who not everyone can communicate with.”
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound forward is a St. Michael’s Academy graduate and led the Austin Catholic school to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) 5A state title his senior year. He also began a friendship with former Longhorns standout Brad Buckman and remained in touch with him even after going to St. Louis.
“Then, when I was in Austin one summer, I spoke to Coach Barnes and he found me a spot on the team,” Mooney said.
Now about the "moo's."
“It’s incredible,” he said. “It makes me feel great that they enjoy seeing me out there. In turn, I want to make sure I do well. You feel great knowing everyone is behind you.”
He scored his first point of the year on a free throw in November against Texas Southern.
Mooney, who has another year of eligibility in 2007-08, plans to start graduate school in the fall. He is going to study advertising or corporate communications.
Asked how difficult it is that most of his work is not seen by the crowd, Mooney explains that learning the game is paramount to him.
“The attitude of the people you are doing it for matters, too,” he continued. “The people here at Texas treat you right. They show you respect, from Coach Barnes on down.
“This is a great situation for me. I’m glad I am here.”
Certainly, it was an excellent 'moove' for Mooney.