All for one, one for all
Senior forward looks to dominate low post
For three years, Darrius Morrow has stepped on the court at Minges Coliseum as No. 1 for ECU.
But this year, that No. 1 on his jersey takes on a different meaning. When the Pirates kick off their season Friday night hosting Milligan, Morrow will not just be No. 1 on the court; he’ll be the No. 1 option.
“I feel I’m very skilled and I can take on anything I need to do to help my team,” said the senior forward, who is the only one of ECU’s top-four scorers from last season still on the squad. “But (being the go-to guy) is no different. I still prepare the same way, and I’m going to continue doing the same things I’ve been doing to lead my team.”
Morrow wound up at ECU by way of Atlanta, Ga., where he said he didn’t pick up basketball until he was in the eighth grade. But, as he put it, “Once I developed that love of the game, that was it. I was hooked.”
Morrow originally signed to play at the University of South Carolina under former Gamecocks’ Head Coach Dave Odom. But when Odom retired, Morrow was granted a release and free to play elsewhere. After weighing his options, which included a chance to play at Auburn, he decided to play at ECU.
Much has changed in Morrow’s three seasons in Greenville. In an ironic twist, Jeff Lebo, who was the head coach at Auburn when Morrow chose ECU over the Tigers, now coaches him. Gone are the snickers and scoffs that used to accompany the mention of ECU basketball, mostly due to the Pirates’ 18-16 record posted last year in Lebo’s first season.
Morrow shined as a junior, averaging a career-high 13.0 points per game and adding 6.3 rebounds per contest. He converted two game-winning three point plays: one at home against in-state rival Charlotte and one at Marshall in a game in which he scored a career-high 33 points.
But Morrow struggled early in the year with weight problems, leaving some to wonder just how dominant he could have been had he been at his peak from the start.
“The first half of the year, I was a bit out of shape,” he said. “The second half, I began losing weight and it showed on the court. As long as I keep my weight down, I can be the best player I can be.”
Assuming that means he can maintain his play from late last season, ECU’s opponents probably want no part of the best player Morrow can be. He went on a tear during the Pirates’ last four games of last year, earning double-doubles in all and averaging 20.3 points and 13.8 rebounds per contest.
Morrow said he was in the gym all summer working on his conditioning — as well as his jumpshot — and Lebo and the Pirates expect to have the dominant Morrow on the floor all season long.
“We’re didn’t see the true Darrius Morrow until late last year,” Lebo said. “He has to be good from the beginning … but I think that he’s ready as a senior to shoulder some of that.”
If Morrow’s senior season remotely resembles his junior campaign, he stands to cement his legacy as one of the best to ever step foot on the hardwood for ECU. He enters this season ranked 19th on ECU’s all-time scoring list and 15th on the all-time rebounding list. If he matches his numbers from last year, he would wind up fifth and sixth, respectively, on those lists.
But Morrow said there is no nostalgia in this, his final season as a Pirate. His main focus is, and has always been, performing and winning basketball games for ECU.
“I’m definitely going to miss playing at Minges,” he said of his impending departure. “But we’ve got a great group this year and the sky is the limit for us. Hopefully we can win all 17 home games this year. That would be an amazing way to go out.”
So Pirates fans should keep an eye on Morrow this season. He isn’t hard to find.
After all, he’s No. 1.
This writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.