Adam Morrison had his Senior Night on Thursday – 13 years delayed.
Missing the original date wasn’t his only regret upon leaving Gonzaga after his junior year back in 2006 – there was still some unfinished NCAA Tournament business that nagged at him some. But then, the postponement resulted in a showier parting gift.
His name and number displayed in bright LED up on the north wall of McCarthey Athletic Center.
It looks right at home in the company of Frank Burgess and John Stockton, and as the first “modern era” Zag, as he put it, so honored. And now it’ll be a reminder of the competitive desperation he brought to the program and the mania that bubbled up around him that final year, a centrifugal force that would serve to cement the program in the national consciousness.
Bulldogs coach Mark Few touched on that in his remarks before Thursday’s 94-59 win over San Diego but also noted the Kennel Clubbers standing nearby “were real young when he was doing his work.”
Good thing there’s a scrapbook. So on Mo’s night, a few random Mo-mentos from some friends:
Richard Fox, teammate, 2004: “The confidence he had was unreal. He comes into a team with five seniors, plus Ronny Turiaf who’s a junior – some strong personalities. His first game’s at Madison Square Garden and on his first catch, he shoots it – contested 15-footer – and makes it. And we’re going, ‘OK …’”
Leon Rice, former GU assistant coach: “We had to invent challenges for him. We’d sub him out at the 16-minute mark and then it was my job to go, ‘Adam, did you see what that guy said to you?’ And it worked over and over again – it was like a cartoon. I’d make up stuff and put it in the scouting report and try to push his buttons because that made him go. And he’s a smart guy – it was you-know-that-I-know-that-you-know that I’m just making this up, but he didn’t care. He loved it.”
Derek Raivio, teammate, 2004-06: “We’d be running a play and he’d be at my back, looking for a handoff. ‘Mo, I’m going to run a play now.’ Finally it’s like, OK, here you go and he’d make something happen. And after I see him do it a few times and get results, I’m thinking, ‘I’m getting this guy the ball.’”
Bill Grier, former GU assistant: “He was so stubborn and hard-headed, but that’s what made him good. And Mark did a great job of running drills where you kept score, because if there was a winner and a loser, he was going to compete.”
Raivio: “It must have been our junior year. Adam will tell you, he’s not a drill guy, he’s a game guy. Defensive drills especially. So we’re doing one in practice, and Tommy Lloyd is running it – and Adam’s not doing a good job. His guy kept getting open and getting the ball. So it’s about the sixth or seventh time and he’s getting pissed off. Tommy’s pretty young at the time and he’s looking away and Adam gets the ball and cocks it back like he’s doing a soccer throw in and chucked it at Tommy and dropped him. Tommy cussed him out for like a minute, but we were dying.”
Pierre-Marie Altidor-Cespedes, teammate, 2005-06: “Everything Adam said was to the point, and everything he ever did on the court was to the point. Adam was so to the point that if he spoke to you for more than one sentence, you were in trouble. That’s why debating with him wasn’t such a good idea. Like most things in my life, by the time I realized this, it was already too late.”
Tom Hudson, Gonzaga radio voice: “The game at LMU where he went off (for 44 points) – I want to say he only had four or five points in the first half. I think his aunt and uncle were at the game, and early in the second half he hits a shot and points up in the stands. Some kid thinks maybe Mo’s taunting him, so he comes down on the floor and starts yelling at Mo – he’s running up and down behind our table screaming at him. After Mo hits about seven or eight in a row, I almost wanted to trip the kid and say, ‘You idiot, don’t you see what you’re doing?’ I mean, I want us to win and I’m still wishing he’d shut up.”
Rice: “Late in the game Mo hits a sideways, falling-out-of-bounds shot – and purposely falls into the guy, so he can talk trash to him.”
Raivio: “He taught me how to flop. After practice, we’d work on creating contact and flopping and yelling and shaking our head. He’d say, ‘Rav – any advantage, make ’em pay.’”
Oliver Pierce, former sports information director: “By the end of (2006), he’d really had it with all the demands, but we had to go to the Final Four for player of the year stuff and more media. I call up the Duke SID and say, ‘hey, let’s tag team him and JJ Redick on all this stuff.’ But walking around Indianapolis, even when Redick was with us, maybe two out of 10 people knew JJ – and he plays for Duke – and everybody knew Adam.”
Grier: “The people lining up for us and guys with stuff to autograph just grew and grew. Some guy at LMU tried to get on the bus to get autographs and Steve Hertz had to throw him off.”
Hudson: “A few years ago at USF, we’re getting set up – I think it’s Adam’s first year doing our broadcasts. (Former USF player) Frankie Ferrari’s brother comes over and he says, ‘Hey, we’re big fans’ – and then Frankie comes over. And they tell us that when we played in Oakland, they were there and had Morrison mustaches on. Now, you hear that from a lot of fans. But the next time we see Frankie and his brother, they show up with a picture – it’s them in the newspaper, 8 or 9 years old, these two kids wearing the mustaches. It wasn’t just Spokane. It was all over.”
Raivio: “It was a show, for sure, but it was a ride we were happy to be a part of because look where it was taking us. And he was still just Adam. He had this old station wagon, just a beater – no hubcaps, windows didn’t work. And of course he had everything in there. One night we’re heading up Division to get something to eat and one of the doors starts falling off. That was Adam, every bit as much as the show was Adam.”
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