Morgan Clyburn: One Step Beyond (Part II)

The Bootleg recently enjoyed a lengthy chat with senior Morgan Clyburn, who made excellent use of her on court time in critical minutes for the Cardinal last season, to get the lowdown on her future plans and her hopes for her senior campaign.

Senior F/C Morgan Clyburn has battled worsening foot problems throughout her Cardinal career, yet persevered to make important contributions to Stanford's march to the Final Four. She discussed her play in 2007-08, her future both on and off the court, and her thoughts on keys to success in the upcoming season. This is Part II of a two-part interview.

Last season Morgan Clyburn hit career highs in points (10) at Arizona, three-pointers (3) at Arizona, blocks (4) at Washington, and minutes (25) at Washington. How did she feel about her 2007-08 season?

"What a lot of people don't realize it that if you are going to work and you are going to bust your butt and in my opinion go through some pretty painful moments, you want to be there when your team needs you. That's the whole reason that I go through it, so that when we're in foul trouble and the game is potentially on the line I can contribute. Even if I'm not contributing a whole bunch of points, but maybe I'm not hurting anything in that respect and helping in other ways, you want to be there for things like that. For me what I went through was worth it to see our team be successful."

Aside from the team success, what were her personal highlights from last season?

"Probably Washington on the road, when we were in foul trouble. Cal lost to them because their bigs got in foul trouble and [Cal] made this whole big spiel about how their bigs got in foul trouble so they weren't able to pull it out, whereas when we got in foul trouble and I got I think twenty minutes of playing time and played well, we did win the game. My family was there to watch. My grandma came out, which for a woman of eight-three from Texas is a nice journey. It was nice to be able to play well in front of my family and to provide our team with some key minutes."

How has Clyburn improved over her career?

"Freshman and sophomore years…you know you want to do so well that sometimes it almost works against you because you are trying so hard and then you get out there and it's like crazy. I sort of changed my philosophy to more of control what I can control. I can always rebound. I can always play defense. I let the offense come to me. Not necessarily going out there to be scoring a bunch and doing everything perfectly but more of just doing the things that I know regardless, day in and day out, that I can control. I think that made a big difference because it took some of the pressure off as well as let me relax and play like I knew I could play."

What will be her focus this season, especially if it takes her a while to return to action?

"As a senior you can provide a lot of leadership and the things that on the court maybe [fans] don't notice enough but as a teammate who has been there, struggling and going through the hard times, you can really appreciate. I know for me Clare Bodensteiner did a lot of those things that are intangible when it comes to a team. Part of last year's success was that we really loved each other and we didn't want to not reach our potential, not just for ourselves but also for our teammate next to us. And so if I can't play, I will still travel in pre-season. I don't think if I can't play I'm allowed to travel for Pac-10 games. I'd be working to provide leadership, to keep everybody focused, and to make sure that everyone is doing ok. The intangibles are really vital to a team's success."

Will Clyburn still have "high-five" duties after made three-pointers?

"Yeah! I'll do it!"

How did she get that job?

"It was in my freshman year. Clare told me that this is something we usually do. I don't remember who did it before me. Might have been Clare, might not have been. She said I should do it and I said ok. My freshman year I was all peppy and excited, not that I'm not now. I still get excited. But Clare thought it would be a good job for me. I was excited to do it. It's stayed with me."

Will she pass it along? Is she eying any targets for the position?

"I haven't thought about it. Now I have to start keeping an eye out. We'll see. I have to scout."

This person may or may not be the next "high-fiver" but for the record, who is her goofiest teammate?

"Probably Mel (Murphy). Mel keeps us all laughing all the time. She's one of those people that doesn't even try and is just hilarious constantly. She just has a great attitude toward life and a great personality. Jayne is a goofball too though. She's probably up there but I'd give the edge to Mel if I had to choose."

Will Clyburn continue with sports after her Stanford career, either seriously or just for fun?

"For me physically I don't know if my body would like to be going through a ton more sports, but I think the emotional connection to the game is so strong that I'm not sure that I want to leave it. I have talked to my dad and some other people about potentially coaching, not as a career but more to give back and to have fun, maybe do AAU-type teams in the summers, that type of thing. I've learned a lot at Stanford both on and off the court that I would love to pass down. There are people who have put forth a lot of time and effort for me, which is something that definitely doesn't go unnoticed. I want to pass it on. I think that girls in 7th and 8th grade or maybe high school could really benefit from the types of experiences that we've been through here. The coaching is obviously not something that will happen yet, but definitely something that I see myself doing in the future."

What does Clyburn feel are the keys to the upcoming season?

"I think a lot of it, and I hate to steal from last year, is ‘if it ain't broke, don't fix it,' right? Just continue the kind of toughness that we showed as a team. When the games were on the line we had people step up and yeah, we're losing Candice (Wiggins), who is a great player and will definitely be missed, but we had a lot of great supporting cast around her and we have a lot of really great freshmen coming in. And honestly, in practice so far, we're all really excited because we know that we have a lot of what it takes to get there already. Granted there is a lot of work left to do, so don't quote me that we're getting ahead of ourselves. But if we can keep the same type of mental toughness that we showed last year, not backing down from anyone, not caring if a team was ranked #1, undefeated, or any of that, we know that we can give anyone a game and we're going to. If we can carry that mentality into every game that we play I think that we will be a real team to contend with."

The Cardinal are rightfully both hopeful about their prospects and cognizant of the difficult work ahead. Whatever the season brings, however long it takes her to make it back onto the court, contributions from Clyburn will make a positive difference. Like the proverbial tip of the iceberg, we may not see all of these contributions, but they are crucial. Here's hoping fans get to cheer Clyburn on court before too long in this, her senior season.

To view a slide show of Don Anderson's photos taken during this interview with Morgan Clyburn, click HERE.

For Part I of this interview, click HERE.

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