After two-plus years of compromises and adjustments, Taze Moore had long anticipated a night like the one he had Saturday.
A guard by trade, Moore, a versatile player at 6-foot-5, 180 pounds, had to adapt his game when he got to Cal State Bakersfield in 2016, as he joined a program with a glut of backcourt talent.
After redshirting in his first season, Moore earned his share of playing time over the following two seasons, averaging 14.9 minutes in 54 games in a mostly reserve role.
But with players like Brent Wrapp, Dedrick Basile, Damiyne Durham and Jarkel Joiner gobbling up touches at the guard position, Moore spent the bulk of his time at forward, a move he admits required a lot of adjustment on his part.
"I really wanted to come into college as a guard," he said. "But...we had too many good guards at the time and I just had to be one of those people to come in and play his role."
Entering 2019-20, all the players mentioned above had moved on, creating an opportunity for Moore to move to his natural position. And though the sample size is small, early results are highly encouraging.
Moore was a slashing spectacle in a 90-49 exhibition win over NAIA foe Westcliff Saturday, finishing with 20 points in just 12:23 of play, the fewest minutes logged by any CSUB player.
He scored all 20 of his points in the span of 16:33, with 18 of them coming in the paint. A Roadrunner defense that recorded 14 steals routinely turned them into fastbreak opportunities, and Moore, who had three steals of his own, was the primary beneficiary, often finding his way to the rim with little-to-no resistance.
He also displayed a strong connection with De'Monte Buckingham, as the duo connected for a pair of alley-oop dunks in the first half.
“That’s something we really don’t have to work on because our chemistry is just starting to gel so well,” Moore said.
Feeling he was in the best position for him to succeed, Moore's teammates have been in his ear all offseason, doing everything they could to help him maximize his abilities.
On a roster with a 50/50 split between new and returning players, Moore says team captains Buckingham and Justin Edler-Davis have pushed him to take his game to the next level, a push he was happy to receive.
“For me and my confidence and my growth, it just really came from the guys always being in my head," said Moore, a 4.6 points per game scorer coming into the season. "They gave me some tough words this summer that I really needed in order for me to step up.”
Those words have been echoed by head coach Rod Barnes, who expects much of the same from Moore when the Roadrunners open regular season play against Division II Notre Dame De Namur on Tuesday.
"It's his turn," Barnes said. "It's time for us to expect that from him. He has to be really good for us to be successful."
Tuesday's game at the Icardo Center tips at 7:30 p.m.