Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Former walk-on guard Anna Morrissey making most of opportunity as starter

December 2, 2014
<p>Senior guard Anna Morrissey looks to pass the ball as IUPUI guard Kelsi Byrd guards her Nov. 23, 2014, during the game against IUPUI at Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Jaguars, 64-45. Jessalyn Tamez/The State News </p>

Senior guard Anna Morrissey looks to pass the ball as IUPUI guard Kelsi Byrd guards her Nov. 23, 2014, during the game against IUPUI at Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Jaguars, 64-45. Jessalyn Tamez/The State News

Photo by Jessalyn Tamez | The State News

Morrissey set a career-high for scoring with 11 points on Nov. 26 against Oakland , but increased that number to 17 in a 46-point victory this past weekend. She was a spark plug for the Spartans, shooting 4-of-6 from 3-point range.

“This summer, she was in the gym all the time,” senior forward Becca Mills said. “We knew it would pay off, but to see her score 17 points, career high, playing close to 40 minutes a game in the first couple games of the season — neither of us knew she would be excelling this much. ... She’s had it in her all along to be a contributor on the team and play with us and just for her to get out there and be able to prove it and show it and stay out there. It’s really exciting for her.”

Morrissey, daughter of former MSU and NFL linebacker Jim Morrissey , carries herself with a quiet and unselfish demeanor. As a point guard and floor general, she wants to take on a more traditional role.

“Tori (Jankoska) and Aerial (Powers) are great players,” Morrissey said. “They’re our top scorers, so definitely setting them up for good opportunities is my goal.”

Although she is now a starter and an integral part of the team, the mindset of a walk-on hasn’t worn off for Morrissey. She attributes her confidence boost to the work her teammates have done for her, making her job easier, and has also made it clear that she wants “to do anything to help the team out.”

Head coach Suzy Merchant noted that Morrissey has gone through her career with no complaints, working hard to make an impact in any way.

“The one thing you really appreciate as a coach is people who genuinely appreciate and are grateful for their opportunity just to be a Spartan,” Merchant said. “(Morrissey) came in with the same attitude everyday. She’s never had a distraction. She’s never been a problem. She’s always been a positive part of our team.”

A spot in the starting five is not only a testament to Morrissey’s hard work, but also a reminder to some of the more highly recruited players in the MSU locker room to keep improving, Merchant said.

“I always say it’s never the opportunity, it’s what you do when you get the opportunity — and she’s one of those kids,” Merchant said. “To watch Anna for three years be a practice player and go back on (sic) forth being on our scout team, to building in a little bit with us, to now running the team, it’s sort of a check yourself thing for everybody.”

Morrissey is now averaging 8.4 points per game and a team-high 35.8 minutes per game . Her 50 percent field goal percentage and 42.1 3-point shooting percentage are the highest on the team as well. With a one-to-one assist to turnover ratio, there is certainly room for improvement, but the impact she has made so far is undeniable.

She may not have been a coveted recruit coming out of high school, but she’s not exactly making that clear.

“There’s some kids that walk in here like Aerial and Tori and dominate from the get go,” Merchant said. “And there’s program kids that just stay the course, keep working, keep getting better every single day. When you get your chance, be ready and prepared and do the best you can, and she’s one of those kids.”

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