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'The ultimate team player'

Published January 30, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - There are better shooters than Lakewood's Sean Morrison. Better ball handlers. Guys with more rebounds, quicker to the steal, sharper with the pass.

But there are few better than the Spartans junior when it comes to being a ball-handling, shooting, rebounding, passing defender.

Hold Morrison to 10 points, and he'll have 10 rebounds. Keep him off the boards and he'll score 20. Keep him in single digits in points and rebounds, and he'll pick up a dozen steals and assists.

Nothing about his game blows you away, but everything about it impresses.

"That's the strength of Sean's game," said Lakewood coach Dan Wright. "It's all areas. He's what I would call the ultimate team player.

"You can't just evaluate by look at the scoring, you have to look at the total picture to see the 8-9 rebounds, 6-7 assists, 2-3 steals. You have to really understand the game to truly appreciate Sean's game. It may not seem like it during the game, but afterwards you say wow, No. 4 really hurt us."

The first player off the bench during Lakewood's state championship season in 2001-2002, Morrison is now a steely veteran and undisputed leader of Pinellas County's best basketball program. This season, he is putting together his finest statistical season - approximately 8 rebounds and 5 assists a contest - while leading the Spartans to a 17-1 record and No. 3 state ranking.

Unlike his flashier brother Marcus, Sean brings his hard hat and lunch bucket to games. He is arguably the best defender in the county, a great leaper with a knack for rebounds and this year is handling and shooting the ball more.

"I improved my ballhandling and shooting, so when they need me to do that I can," Morrison said. "More pressure, but it's all right. I'll take the responsibility."

The Spartans have been something of a surprise this season. Wright brought back a team with little varsity experience, but has gotten solid performances from starters Mario Telfair and Coryon Ross, and a better than expected bench.

For experience, they have Morrison.

"Sean's not what you call a vocal leader, but he's the glue to the group," Wright said. "The guys definitely look to him in certain situations."

If there are knocks against Morrison, they are free throw shooting and growth. The only Spartans loss came when Morrison missed some crucial free throws at the Hooters tournament, and there seems to be little physical difference from his freshman year to now.

But Wright thinks that sometimes people forget - he's a junior. The free throw shooting is a psycholgical hurdle to overcome, and Morrison says he has grown 2-3 inches.

"He has a whole other season-and-a-half," Wright said, "and that's the scary part."

[Last modified January 30, 2004, 01:32:11]


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