Thursday, February 16, 2012

Even in losing effort, Morris shines

By Craig Meyer/DFP Staff

At 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, it effectively goes without saying that Dom Morris is an impressive physical specimen.

But, for much of his career for the Boston University men’s basketball team, the sophomore power forward hasn’t seen his seen that enormous potential translate into consistent, tangible success.

Don’t look now, but that may soon be changing.

Though his team suffered one of its worst losses of the season Wednesday night to the University of New Hampshire, Morris had nothing to do with his team’s underwhelming effort as he posted his second consecutive game scoring in double figures, notching 17 points while pulling down 12 rebounds.

Morris finished the game as not only a model of production, but also one of efficiency and effectiveness, only missing two of his nine field goals and only committing two fouls on a night where BU’s other post players struggled staying out of foul trouble.

Although his team was coming off arguably its biggest win of the season, New Hampshire coach Bill Herrion couldn’t help but laud Morris’ effort.

“He’s a handful – he’s a strong, physical kid,” Herrion said. “He’s a tough matchup.”

Even in the game’s opening minutes, Morris quickly made his presence felt. Within the first four minutes of play, Morris had three offensive rebounds and, at that point, was out-rebounding the entire New Hampshire team. By halftime, he had nine points, seven rebounds and still had yet to miss a field goal.

A large part of what stood out about Morris’ performance was that he did it when his team absolutely needed it. Sophomore point guard D.J. Irving was held scoreless until the game’s final minute and senior guard Darryl Partin only had one made field goal in the first half before his customary second half turnaround.

With senior center Patrick Hazel hobbled by an injury and senior center Jeff Pelage struggling to stay out of foul trouble, Morris has to shoulder a greater burden for the BU frontcourt, but he responded with his second double-double of the season and first since Dec. 3.

“I’m finally figuring out my role on the team, which is to be more aggressive,” Morris said. “To start the season, I kind of fell back on that because we had a new coach, a new system.

“I thought it was mostly based on D.J. and Darryl, didn’t really know how important I was to the offense. Once we starting losing, I had to pick it up and be more aggressive and pick my confidence back up. So I can see myself progressing.”

In a game like basketball, where intangibles and a certain “gray area” of intangibles can tell a greater story of a player or game than a stat sheet ever could, Morris presents an interesting case study. Having only scored in double figures once in the Terriers’ first 26 games, Morris now has two in as many games.

With a physical frame and skill set that scream mismatch and impact player, particularly in a languid league like the America East Conference, Morris has finally started to figure out how to fully utilize his game.

For weeks, BU head coach Joe Jones has been talking about how Morris needed to be more aggressive. Wednesday night, even in a loss, he saw that wish come to full fruition.

“I think the light’s gone on a little bit with him,” Jones said. “When I talk to him, I can see that there’s a little bit of a different twinkle in his eye, he just seems more focused.

“We all know that he’s a very talented kid and hopefully now he can kind of take off from here and continue to have the type of game that he had tonight.”

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