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Ed Morrow embraces off year, hopes to put injury history behind him

Ed Morrow Jr. enters Marquette Madness

Ed Morrow Jr. enters Marquette Madness

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Ed Morrow Jr. enters Marquette Madness

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When Ed Morrow Jr. announced he was transferring from the University of Nebraska, there were no shortage of suitors for his services. Iowa State, Xavier and Pittsburgh all reached out to him and even scheduled on-campus visits, but none of those places were quite the right fit.

The only place that felt like home, Morrow said, was with head coach Steve Wojciechowski at Marquette.

“Meeting Wojo and his staff for the first time … they made me feel wanted and needed,” Morrow said. “I felt like I could come here and make a big impact.”

Morrow, a junior forward out of Simeon High School in Chicago, is very much needed, even if NCAA transfer rules keep him on the sidelines this year. Marquette was mediocre at best on the defensive boards in 2016-’17 and even worse on the offensive glass, gathering only 27.1 percent of possible rebounds, which was in the bottom third of the country.

Anybody that could help reverse that trend, even if it’s only through providing a physical presence in practice, is at least a start.

“He’s going to be very important for our team this year, even though he can’t play,” Wojo said in a Marquette Athletics video about Morrow, who averaged a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game while at Nebraska. “He will be a great guy for our guys who are able to play to practice against.”

Adding Morrow and other big men has shifted Marquette basketball’s identity. Last season, Marquette played a freewheeling, perimeter-heavy style, both because of the team’s superior shooting acumen and its lack of height. Morrow’s presence, along with the presence of eligible big men like Theo John and Harry Froling, will help the team strike a better balance in years to come, Wojo said.

“We only had two guys over six-(foot)-seven on our roster last year,” Wojo said. “This year we have more big guys than we do guards, so we take up a lot more space on the court.”

Height and rebounding acumen aren’t the only thing Morrow provides. Morrow casually drained 3-pointers from the left corner of the Kasten Gym during media day. Although he never attempted a 3-pointer during regulation while at Nebraska, Morrow is optimistic about making his shot consistent enough to become a “stretch four” that can play the wing and post positions.

“I played (stretch four) all throughout high school and played a little bit of it at Nebraska,” Morrow said. “My ultimate goal here is to grow into that role so I know more than one position.”

If there’s one thing Morrow won’t want to carry over from his time at Nebraska, it’s his injury history. He had a bone spur in his foot removed before freshman year and missed another seven games with a different right foot ailment last season. The Cornhuskers, who were tied for first in the Big 10 when Morrow went down, lost six of the seven games without him.

At media day, Morrow was quick to put those health problems behind him, saying he was 100 percent rehabbed. “That’s something in the past, and I’d like to keep it in the past,” Morrow said. “It happened last year, and I’m over that.”

Now is a time for Morrow to look toward the future; even if that future doesn’t involve him playing in any games for a while.

“I’m going to actually embrace it,” Morrow said about not playing this year. “I plan on being in the gym all the time. That’s the only way I’m going to make gains: to get in here and work on my game.”

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