After being limited by a foot injury for much of his freshman season, Ed Morrow Jr. grew into one of Nebraska’s most important players as a sophomore. He was a beast on the glass, scored at a high rate around the basket and had a big impact on Nebraska’s interior defense.
Morrow was tremendous during the nonconference and Nebraska’s three-game winning streak to open Big Ten play. During those 19 games, he averaged 10.3 points on 55.7 percent shooting with 8.3 rebounds in 25.8 minutes per game, all while playing primarily at the center position at 6-foot-7. Morrow provided an interior scoring presence to balance out what Tai Webster and Glynn Watson Jr. did in the backcourt, and the Huskers went 9-6.
However, for the second straight year, a foot injury set him back. He tried to gut it out against Northwestern, but clearly wasn’t himself, finishing with nine points and two rebounds in 17 minutes. Morrow was sidelined for the next month (seven games) and the Huskers went 1-6 without him.
When Morrow was cleared to return, he still was not 100 percent. In his eight games post-return, Morrow was limited to 19.8 minutes per game and averaged 8.0 points on 43.1 percent with 6.8 rebounds per game.
I wrote in late January about the impact Morrow’s absence had on his team. In short, fellow sophomore Michael Jacobson saw his production take a hit without Morrow drawing attention and the Huskers’ defense took a big hit without Morrow in the paint.
Overall, Morrow had a solid season and made a terrific jump from his freshman season. However, he also showed some of his limitations. Morrow is athletic and has a high motor, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a 6-foot-7 post player in the Big Ten. Most of the time he steps on the floor he’s matching up with someone one to four inches taller than he is. The biggest area this disadvantage shows itself is when he is trying to finish inside. Morrow doesn’t have great touch to begin with (although he has improved), and when opponents are able to challenge his shot at the rim or when he tries to finish in a crowd, it often leads to wild attempts or blocked shots.
Morrow did knock down a few jump shots this season, but it still isn’t something that teams have to respect defensively at this point. Morrow also tried to do too much at times. He turned the ball over a bit more than you’d like to see at 2.0 per game, and a lot of those came when he tried to put the ball on the deck.
Best Performance: In an 80-78 neutral site win against Dayton on Nov. 24, Morrow recorded on of his three double-doubles with a career high 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting and 10 rebounds including five on the offensive end.
Morrow saw his season cut short by foot injuries in both of his first two years in Lincoln, and recurring foot injuries for a big man need to be taken seriously. If Morrow can stay healthy, the Huskers could have a chance to have a solid frontcourt. Freshman center Jordy Tshimanga progressed during the second half of the Big Ten season and offers true center size in the middle, giving the Huskers a strong one-two punch in the middle. With Isaac Copeland joining the team and bringing more of a scoring punch to the frontcourt, that could free Morrow up to do what he does best – crash the glass and score opportunistic buckets. Statistically, I would expect a similar season from him next year if he is able to stay healthy.