A career like no other is coming to end, Speedy Morris soon to coach his last game at St. Joseph’s Prep. But the Prep was far from his only stop. The Morris career in full still is nothing short of stupefying.
CYO greatness, sure. Roman Catholic High greatness, you knew that. La Salle women’s greatness, you remember that?
La Salle men … let’s stop right there. Let’s remind ourselves what a season for the ages the Explorers pulled off in 1989-90. Sure, 16-0 in the MAAC is special. How about 14-2 against the rest of the world?
How about Lionel Simmons, national player of the year? How about the only regular-season blemish being maybe the most memorable regular-season game of that season, when La Salle fell just short of the late great Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble and Loyola Marymount inside Convention Hall? Final score: 121-116. You read that right. If you made your way into the building that night, you can remember where you were sitting. Was there ever a better college game played in that historic building?
Morris apologized that night for trying to keep up with the fastest team in college hoops history. He should have taken a bow. It almost worked. Instead, it was merely unforgettable.
That La Salle team had Doug Overton and Randy Woods and Bobby Johnson, B.J.’s dad, off the bench. That La Salle team swept the Big Five games? It did. What about opponents from leagues now known as the Power 5? The Explorers beat Ohio State and Florida on consecutive nights in a Christmas tournament, and Notre Dame after that.
After beating Southern Mississippi in the first round of March Madness, the Morris crew lost to Clemson by four points in the second round. Just understand that Clemson then lost to UConn by a point, and UConn lost to Duke by a point, and Duke reached the NCAA title game before being taken out by UNLV. The Explorers were in that company, a special team. The best Speedy ever had.
During their three-game losing streak, the Wildcats lost the rebounding battle three straight times. Here’s a prediction: That stat will look different next season. Why? Eric Dixon.
Not suggesting it’s a mistake to redshirt the freshman from Abington this season. If Dixon needed to work on conditioning and his minutes wouldn’t be worth burning the year, that makes sense. Just understand, Dixon should get his minutes next season, and he should get a bunch of those missing rebounds.
The St. Joseph’s Hawks knew they’d be starting over this season. But during the five-game losing streak going into Tuesday’s St. Bonaventure visit, only one Hawks player other than Ryan Daly scored more than a dozen points in any of those five games (Anthony Longpre, 15 against George Washington, and that was Longpre’s third double-digit scoring game of the season.) Nobody else averaged double digits during that span. Reinforcements are coming.
Christian Ray got a start for La Salle against St. Joe’s and made use of it, hitting every category on the stat sheet. Earning your minutes at both ends as a freshman means, well … more minutes.
Penn is back in the thick of the crazy Ivy League race. At 4-2, the Quakers are a game behind frontrunners Yale and Princeton, tied with Brown, a game ahead of Harvard. Four of those five schools should advance to the four-team post-season tournament, at Harvard this season.
How crazy is this race? Harvard’s last four Ivy results after 40 minutes … tied, lost by one, won by one, lost by one. All on the road.
If you need a second option, Devon Goodman has been providing it, scoring 16 points a game over the last four Ivy wins, adding five defensive boards each game.
Temple’s Monty Scott took advantage of his top minutes total of the season and came through for the shorthanded Owls as they came from way back to beat SMU in overtime. Scott had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, making all five of his free throws and adding six assists, which was almost half his season total in that category coming into the game.
The last time a City 6 men’s team wasn’t coached by either Speedy Morris or a former Speedy Morris assistant was 1985-86. That streak will continue at least as long as Billy Lange coaches St. Joe’s. (Fran Dunphy held down the fort between Morris and Lange.) … As for branches of his coaching tree: Temple coach Aaron McKie and Penn coach Steve Donahue coached under Dunphy, and Drexel coach Zach Spiker coached under Donahue at Cornell, so they all can claim a branch. La Salle assistant Donnie Carr scored 2,000 points playing for Speedy. Then there’s Hawks assistant John Griffin, who played for Speedy at the Prep. … It never ends, and certainly won’t with Speedy’s retirement.