When the Golden Eagles lost star point guard Angel Robinson to graduation last year, the backcourt suddenly became an area of great uncertainty. So far this season, freshman guard Arlesia Morse has helped quell that uncertainty.
The Flint, Mich., native is a former forward and led her high school, Hamady, to two Class C state championships, in 2009 and 2010. A natural scorer, Morse averaged 26 points and 10.3 rebounds per game during her senior season and finished her career as Hamady’s all-time leader in points (1,557).
Morse said crossing over into the college game, changing her position and bringing her high scoring mentality with her have been her biggest challenges so far.
“The change in competition has been the biggest surprise to me,” Morse said. “In high school, some teams are good and you can kind of focus on those big games, but when you come to college everybody is good.”
Seeing action and starting in all of the team’s first 20 games at shooting guard, Morse currently averages 31.4 minutes per game (third-most on the roster), a hefty workload for a first-year player. Morse hasn’t hesitated to take full advantage of her minutes, picking up 10.1 points per game, second only to sophomore forward Katherine Plouffe in scoring (14.1 points per game).
“She’s a great player for us, and she’s really performed well despite changing positions,” Plouffe said. “As someone who changed from guard to forward, I can understand why she struggles sometimes in practice, but so far she’s developed into a really good scorer for us.”
Morse has done much of her damage from the perimeter, leading the Golden Eagles in made 3-pointers with 28, as well as at the free throw line, where her 79.2 conversion rate also tops the roster. While making baskets hasn’t been a problem so far for Morse, there are some areas where she admittedly wants to improve.
“I’ve really been looking to improve on my point guard skills so I can become more of a combo guard,” Morse said. “I still need to work on ball handling and reading plays, knowing when the posts are open and knowing which plays to run, and also just rebounding more.”
As is the case with many young players, Morse’s first taste of Big East basketball has hampered her all-around stats. Her average dropped to 7.0 points per game in conference action, and she has committed 22 of her 54 turnovers in the Golden Eagles’ last seven games.
While sophomore guard Gabi Minix has taken over most of the ball handling responsibility in Robinson’s absence, Morse said her desire to improve on her ball handling would help bring a sense of balance to the backcourt. Her 26 assists to Minix’s 110 displays a staggering discrepancy, and, with a front court full of big bodies, the Golden Eagles need all the ball movement they can get.
“Ball handling is really the thing I struggle with the most so I go into the gym 15 minutes a day before practice to just focus on it,” Morse said.
A huge part of Morse’s success has come from Robinson’s efforts to help her former team from the sidelines. Morse said Robinson regularly works with her on ball handling and defense during Morse’s free time.
“Angel’s been helping me with everything she learned while she played here,” Morse said. “She talks to me before games and at halftime about what to expect from which teams and what I should do to be a better player against them.”