Morgan Ready for a Shot at USF
Jan. 19, 2012
CHICAGO - Moses Morgan finally had enough.
His father was provoking him with the notion that a 44-year-old ex-athlete could still beat the 17-year-old son in a game of one-on-one.
But this was no ordinary over-the-hill specimen. Winston Morgan had played for Bobby Knight at Indiana in the early and mid-1980s.
Still, enough was enough.
"One day during my senior year in high school, he was talking smack about how he could still beat me," Moses said. "I said: `Let's go outside and settle this.'
"We went to our driveway. I just wanted him to stop talking. He was a little mad when I beat him. He kept calling fouls, but it didn't matter. I had my brother record it on video.
"When I was younger, my dad used to destroy me. I remember being 11 and he beat me pretty bad. Then, I started getting taller, stronger, and quicker. He got older and his knees and hips began wearing down."
Winston Morgan knew this day would come. After all, he had passed on his love of the game and all of the fundamentals to both of his sons.
"I knew my father was a great player," said Moses, who is ready to take his best shot at USF Sunday in a 1 p.m. BIG EAST Conference showdown at Allstate Arena. "As I was growing up, he focused on developing me. He wanted me to be a better player than he was and kept adding to my game.
"Whatever his weaknesses were as a player, he wanted those to be strengths in his son. He could never shoot off one or two dribbles. He didn't have that in his game. We did the 6-spots drill. It was one-dribble or two-dribbles, pull up and shoot from six different places on the court. I was 10 years old.
"While I was back home for Christmas, we did the same workout. It helped me a lot and gave me a lift. We got the idea watching a Kobe Bryant video. He knows how to pick out his spot and where he wants to score.
"My dad has been working with me and my brother since we were real young trying to make us the best players we could be. He was always there for workouts. After AAU practices, he would work out with me some more.
"Dad is the one who made me the player I am today."
Morgan scored a career-high 17 points (5-of-8 on three-pointers) and set another career mark with those five long-distance strikes in Tuesday's 83-75 loss to No. 10/12 Georgetown.
"I wanted to come out aggressive against a highly ranked team," Morgan said. "I've been shooting well in practices lately. It feels like that shooting touch is coming back to me."
He finished with 16 points (4-of-7 on three-pointers) to go along with four rebounds and four assists in the season-opening victory over Texas Pan American. Morgan had 13 points in the 84-81 upset over Pittsburgh in which DePaul students stormed the Allstate Arena court afterwards. He contributed 12 points in a win over Arizona State.
That's not exactly how he started out his collegiate career last season.
Morgan arrived at DePaul after averaging nearly 21 points and more than eight rebounds per game at Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas. Rated as the No. 30 small forward prospect in the country, Morgan had offers from Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Minnesota, UNLV, Utah, Memphis and Clemson while Georgetown and Marquette were also pursuing him.
Anxious to live up to the hype, Morgan instead began his NCAA career mired in a deep shooting slump.
"That was one of the worst times of my life," Morgan said. "I tried not to let myself get down, and I didn't want to bring my negative energy to the team. I was calling my dad every day crying. He said to keep my head up and that I'll come out of it. He said these kinds of things happen for a reason.
"What also helped were the coaches telling me to keep shooting. Brandon, Cleve (Melvin) and JK (Jeremiah Kelly) stayed in my ear and told me not to worry about it. I want to thank coach Oliver Purnell for not holding a grudge and instead staying with me.
"It helped my confidence the way I finished last year. It helped me believe in the way I play my game."
A fixture in the starting lineup for the first eight games, Morgan was replaced by Jamee Crockett in the ninth game versus Loyola Chicago. Rather than sulk on the bench, Morgan came out firing with a team-high 13 points along with four rebounds in a 69-58 win.
"The way we play, everybody gets their minutes," Morgan said about Purnell's system of full-court pressure defense and running the fast break at every opportunity. "Coach told me he was making a slight change. Jamee was playing well and coach wanted me to come off the bench. I stay focused because I'm still playing in every game.
"This year we have such a good chemistry on and off the court. We go after each other every day in practice, and the team is quicker and faster than last year. It's fun to play this way. There are way more athletes with the new guys like Jamee Crockett, Charles McKinney, Donnavan Kirk, Worrell Clahar and big Derrell Robertson blocking a lot of shots.
"It's better for me to go against Jamee, Charles and Worrell in practice. We all try to make each other better."
Morgan was clearly better than his contemporaries when he scored 30 points in a middle school tournament game attended by UNLV coach Lon Kruger. A year later as a freshman, Morgan received his first basketball scholarship offer---courtesy of Kruger.
"UNLV recruited me pretty hard," Morgan said, "but I didn't want to stay home."
How come he didn't follow in the Hoosier footsteps of his father?
"When Indiana started recruiting me, it was exciting," Morgan said. "The Hoosiers were my favorite until I went on my visit there. I didn't like the feel of the campus. My dad didn't put any pressure on me to go there. He said it was my decision.
"Before that visit, I was thinking about committing to Indiana. I'm glad I went on the visit."
And Blue Demon fans are glad he has found a home in Chicago.
"With DePaul, it was an opportunity to come in and play right away," Morgan said. "It was a chance to turn the program around. Billy Garrett played a really big part in my recruitment. He was talking to me, Cleve and Brandon, telling us to come to DePaul together and change the program.
"When I found out Oliver Purnell was coming here, I knew this was the place I wanted to be. Coach Purnell had been recruiting me while he was at Clemson, and I liked his style of play."
It's a good thing Winston Morgan let his son make up his own mind.
In the end, father knows best.