Morgan driven for healthy finish at UBC
Forward ‘almost 100 per cent’ after early season injury
Conor Morgan is due to be healthy. If you’re a UBC Thunderbirds basketball fan, you have to hope the odds are finally in his favour.
“I’m pretty tired of answering injury questions,” the T-Birds’ star forward from Victoria said with a chuckle Tuesday afternoon. “I’m pretty well done being injured.”
The 6-foot-9 Morgan, who has battled through the likes of a stress fracture in his foot (second year), a broken wrist (third year) and multiple ankle sprains (fourth year) proclaims himself “almost 100 per cent” from a soft-tissue elbow ailment that seemed destined to derail this fifth and final season of eligibility with Kevin Hanson’s hoops crew.
Morgan was injured in a pre-season tournament in Saskatchewan in October and Hanson, UBC’s longtime coach, said at the time it wasn’t season ending, but figured Morgan wouldn’t be back until after Christmas.
Instead, Morgan ended up missing just the first weekend of the Canada West regular season. He’s been back for the past two weekends and averaged 22.3 points and 7.8 rebounds in those four games.
He finished second in scoring in the country last season, averaging 23.1 points per game, but was limited physically due to the ankle trouble in the playoffs and UBC, then the No. 2-ranked team in U Sports, was upset in the best-of-three Canada West quarter-finals by the Manitoba Bisons.
“Every night I hope so. Every day I hope so,” Hanson said when asked whether this is at last Morgan’s time to stay in the lineup and out of the medical room for an extended run. “We’ve been through so many ups and downs during his time here. It’s been an emotional roller-coaster.
“He’s had the elbow trouble this year, but you hope the little bit of rest pays off for him and for us down the stretch and in the playoffs. The elbow seems fine now. We’ve been told he’ll have to wear a brace for the remainder of the season. He admits he has to get his confidence back in his elbow, but anytime you wear a brace it’s something that takes some getting used to.”
Morgan actually had completed his kinesiology degree last year and had some interest from pro teams in Europe, but opted to come back for a fifth season and start work on his master’s degree.
Part of it was to help set himself up professionally for when basketball is over. Part of it, too, is he feels there’s unfinished business with Hanson’s squad.
Last year ended abruptly and the Thunderbirds lost 109-101 in overtime to the Ryerson Rams in the opening round of the 2016 national championship tournament at UBC.
“We need to just keep working hard and we have to stay together as a team,” said Morgan, whose team carries a 4-2 Canada West record into a weekend series at home against the 0-6 Trinity Western Spartans. “If we do that, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to be there in the end.
“We have some championship DNA. We have winners on our team. Once everybody gets playing with confidence and everybody gets playing their roles, we’re going to be a really tough team to beat. The last couple of years we’ve been one of the best teams in the country. We’ve just struggled in the end. It’s time to change that.”
UBC Thunderbirds forward Conor Morgan, left, has averaged 22.3 points per game and 7.8 rebounds since returning to the lineup two weekends ago after a soft-tissue injury to his elbow.