Former Blues’ player attempting to make rare transition
Written by Jose Colorado
Andrew Morris speaks with a sort of unflappable confidence when talking basketball.
It is the type of certainty that has allowed him to rise from forgotten redshirt at Simon Fraser University to being one of most hotly touted west coast college prospects within a two year span.
Now following a couple of all-star seasons in the Pacific Western Athletic Association conference (PACWEST), the Burnaby, B.C. native is attempting to make the difficult transition from star player on a mediocre college squad, to key contributor at an elite-level university program.
“I’ve always had a lot of confidence in myself,” said Morris. “I’m a firm believer in believing in yourself when no one else does.
“I always know I have an end goal in mind and I’m always pushing through to that.”
The former Capilano University (North Vancouver, B.C.) standout is currently gearing up for his first season with the University of Victoria Vikings (UVIC) in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) basketball – the division above the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) where he formerly competed.
The Victoria Vikings captured the Canada West title last season, advanced to the Final 8 of the National tournament and finishedseventh in the country in the official year-end CIS power rankings.
And although Coach Craig Beaucamp lost star player Marcus Tibbs in the offseason, his team returned 8 notable members.
The addition of Morris – and a starting position that appears up for grabs – provides an interesting narrative to Canada’s collegiate level.
There is a common belief amongst the Canadian basketball community that the CIS holds a strong edge over the CCAA in terms of athleticism, talent, physicality, and overall quality of play.
Yet one would be hard-pressed when looking at Morris’ previous body of work and physical build to believe he isn’t the exception to the rule and that he won’t succeed similarly with his new club.
“His flexibility of playing either guard or forward position is definitely an attraction,” said Jon Acob, Morris’ former coach at Capilano University. “He has guard skills but his physicality makes him a tough match up.”
While some players in recent memory (e.g. Boyd Vassell, Jeff Chu) have successfully made the transition from the CCAA to Canada’s highest level – many more haven’t, struggling mightily to replicate similar production.
Yet Capialno’s Head Coach Jon Acob believed that perceived ‘struggle’ to adjust is simply a miscommunication in expectations between player and coach.
“What Andrew needs to realize is that CIS programs are not looking at CCAA players to become stars in the CIS. They are looking at role players,” said Acob. “Andrew needs to switch his mindset from being the big fish in a small pond to being a small fish in a big pond.
Morris’ transition should nonetheless provide a point of intrigue for CIS-diehards.
The 21-year-old provided a number of performances last season that oozed with ‘star potential’, none more emphatic than his 40 points, 17 rebounds performance against Simon Fraser University – a NCAA division II school.
“That SFU game was a big game for me,” he said. “I went in there to prove to myself and the coaching staff – and really to people around B.C. that I belonged at that level.
While Morris acknowledged he will inevitably have fewer opportunities at the CIS level, he knows that he can lean on his work ethic and past experiences to buoy him through what is sure to an initial adjustment period.
“I 100 per cent have a chip on my shoulder,” Morris said. “I take pride in being aggressive and tough. Coming from the PACWEST and having played against some big physical guys has prepared me.
“My work ethic has prepared me.”
UVIC opens the 2015-2016 season on Nov.6 against Trinity Western.
Photo by UVic Vikes/APShutter.com
Edited by Drew Ebanks