Triton varsity boys basketball coach left with the United States Student-Athlete World Under-16 team on Monday, June 17 to compete in the United World Games in Klagenfurt, Austria. He returned to the U.S. on Wednesday with a gold medal in tow.
Morrison’s team won 37-31 in the championship on Sunday over a team from the American Air Force Base in Stuttgart, Germany.
“Hearing your national anthem played in a foreign country is unbelievable,” Morrison said. “I think I cried a little bit during the medal ceremony, which I wasn’t sure if I would because I’m not really an emotional guy. But it was just an amazing experience.”
Morrison’s team advanced to the final after coming back from a 13-2 deficit against KOS Celovec, an Austrian-based Slovenian team, to win 49-45 in overtime in the semifinals.
One of the team’s key players, Frank Musimici, from New Jersey, got hurt in the semifinal. But the other players stepped up in the final game, and with a few seconds left on the clock and the championship in hand, Morrison subbed Musimici onto the court as a gesture of respect.
“I’m really glad that the kids had to overcome some adversity, because I didn’t want it to be given to them,” Morrison said. “I hate that [Muisimici] got hurt, but I was really happy I was able to get him on the court at the end, so he could say he played in the final game. I’m proud of all of the boys. To only have been together a few days, I thought we executed a few times really well under pressure.”
Outside of basketball, it was also an opportunity for cultural enrichment for Morrison. One of his favorite stops was in Venice, Italy, the floating city with canals instead of streets.
After visiting the old Murano Glass Factory on Tuesday, getting lunch and shopping, the team regrouped in the afternoon and took Gondola rides throughout the city.
“My dad had been there in the late 60’s,” Morrison said. “It was something he spoke of a lot, so it was really cool to get to see that and experience it for myself.”
The next day, the team bussed to Austria to begin preparing for the tournament. On Wednesday, they split the team in half and played in some 3-on-3 contests, then used practice time to work on a few things: a 4-out, 1-in motion offense, an inbounds play and a couple of zone sets.
On Thursday, the team got an early practice and reviewed the offense, added a secondary break and played some live half-court. Morrison had to jump in since the team only had nine guys. Then they scrimmaged a 19-and-under team as final preparation for the tournament.
They started off strong on Friday with a 65-16 win over YK Pao-Songjiang from China, and won 88-17 over SV Polling from Germany.
A 38-25 win over SAC School, a team of Americans in Turkey, advanced Morrison’s team to the semifinal.
Morrison said he enjoyed meeting the other coaches and staff.
“We’ve all gotten along really well and shared a lot of ideas,” Morrison said. “There’s a couple of coaches from Atlanta that I might see if I decide to go down to the Nike Peach Jam. And there are a few things other coaches showed me that I might use at Triton.”