Bob Moore, who rebuilt J.C. Smith and Virginia Union into CIAA basketball title contenders, has died.
Moore, 73, was found unresponsive at his home Sunday, said Golden Bulls coach Steve Joyner, who was an assistant on Moore’s staff at Virginia Union and succeeded him at J.C. Smith.
Moore, whose college record of 238-145 included a 148-101 stint with the Golden Bulls from 1978-87, won back-to-back CIAA Southern Division championships (1981-82) and led them to their first NCAA tournament berth in 1987. He was also the first black coach to win a North Carolina High School Athletic Association state title when he led Winston-Salem Atkins to the 1969 4A championship.
“He pushed himself really hard to excel,” said Robert Moore Jr., a 1987 North Mecklenburg High graduate who followed his father into coaching. “His thing was not the victories and state championships. His thing was always sending kids to (graduation). He had a resume with 80 pages and most of it was the kids he sent off to college and are professionals now. That was his biggest thing.”
Moore was adept at breathing life into struggling programs – first at Atkins, then in the college ranks where he pushed Virginia Union to respectability when he won a CIAA North title in 1977. That success built the foundation for the Panthers’ 1980 Division II national championship team – the first of four coached by his successor, Dave Robbins.
“When you look at the teams Dave Robbins first inherited at Virginia Union, most of those student-athletes were young people Bob Moore recruited,” said Joyner, who has three CIAA championships and is J.C. Smith’s career wins leader with 497. “The same thing happened here at Smith and other places he’d been.”
Moore, an Asheville native, turned Atkins High into a state powerhouse when he led the Camels to the state 4A boys’ basketball title with a 23-0 record. Atkins went 20-3 in 1968 but lost to West Charlotte in the playoffs. The next season, the Camels were unbeatable.
“He came in with a new style of basketball – a run-and-gun, pressing type of basketball,” said Joyner, who was Moore’s point guard.
Moore’s offensive philosophy translated to the college game, too. Whether it was in half-court or transition, his teams were prolific at getting the ball up the floor and into the basket.
“He believed in offensive basketball,” Joyner said. “In fact, in many ways I saw him as an offensive genius. He could take one play and design it three or four different ways. He could put it out for one game one way and change it up a different way and by the third game he’d change it again.”
Moore’s impact was felt most in building relationships, Moore Jr. said. He demanded maximum effort on the floor and in the classroom and did his best to help them achieve their goals. He coached track and football, and the philosophy never changed.
“He taught me to expect a lot out of my players, both on and off the court,” said Moore Jr., who coached at Atkins and Southwest Guilford. “He did not have any favorites. He didn’t have five starters; he had five players who were starting. The best five who came in and worked hard were the ones who’d start.”