The 6-foot-4 transfer from Stanford is an enigma for Dawg fans who may not remember him from his days playing on a star-laden Cardinal squad that included Chris Hernandez, Matt Haryasz and Dan Grunfeld. As a sophomore, Morris was the team's starting shooting guard, averaging five points and three assists in 19.5 minutes a game, despite playing second fiddle to the team's higher-profile players.
For a guy accustomed to making an impact on the court, sitting on the sidelines hasn't been easy.
"It was real tough," Morris explained, as he recalled how he felt sitting on the end of the bench last year while his new teammates battled through a disappointing, injury-plagued season.
"The biggest thing that made it so tough was that I was really improving. When I first got here I had a lot of stuff I wanted to work on, and after all of the work with (UW Assistant Coach Cameron) Dollar, and then getting comfortable in the system, it made it even harder to sit as the year progressed."
Morris, uncomfortable in Trent Johnson's rigid offensive system at Stanford, was eager to demonstrate the more explosive aspects of his game, which have flourished after spending three seasons under a tight leash.
"I had gotten kind of mechanical playing at Stanford," he said. "After I got here, my handles got more fluid, my shot got more consistent and I just felt more comfortable on the court."
For fans unfamiliar with Morris' game, the seasoned wing brings an aggressive, high wire act that was sorely missing from last year's squad.
"I play hard," he described, first and foremost. "I'm pretty aggressive, especially on defense. (Washington Head) Coach (Lorenzo Romar) is looking for me to make good decisions, create, get in the lane, be a good finisher, run the floor hard, and knock down open jumpers. I can do those things."
Morris, along with teammate Joel Smith - who sat out last season with a stress fracture - bring a whole new element to a team that struggled on the break and getting penetration in the lane.
"Our team changes a lot just with the addition of Joel and I," Morris shared. "We're big athletes – you know we're both pretty athletic and we're both really aggressive - which adds a lot right there."
Morris also brings veteran leadership on the court - another vital element missing from last years team - and a trait that he said comes naturally to him.
"The guys accepted me right away," Morris said. "In fact the team voted me, along with (Jon) Brockman and (Ryan) Appleby as one of the (team) captains. It's just my nature. The guys respect me because of my age – they call me ‘Papa Tim' or ‘Old Man Morris' - and it's just a part of who I am, so I don't really feel any pressure."
As the team struggled last year, Morris made his presence felt wherever he could. "During practice, I tried to bring a lot of energy and toughness to the court, and the guys saw it," he said. The battle-tested veteran experienced similar frustrations during his tenure with Stanford – a program that saw its lofty expectations derailed by injury.
"Look at Jon Brockman," Morris said. "When he's full of energy and intensity, the guys feed off it, and it would have helped the guys to have a guard like that out there on the court."
During his long wait, ‘Papa Tim' hasn't been idle. "I'm fine tuning every part of my game," said Morris. "I want to get more fluid in the open court handling the ball. Obviously I want to get a lot of shots up. I've learned out here to constantly work on my shots. You watch Appleby and he shoots hundreds of shots a day."
Morris recalled fond memories of his trips to Seattle in the past.
"I had my best games in Seattle when we played against Nate (Robinson) and Will (Conroy) and all of those guys," Morris said, grinning. "Their style of play just fit me better. They pressured constantly, and guarding me full court really fit my game.
"When I was at Stanford I really enjoyed coming up here to play just because of the atmosphere. The crowds were always into it, it's full all of time and it feels like the crowd is right on top of you.
I can't wait to play."
Apparently, Open Gym during the summers has helped maintain Morris' sanity during the long wait.
"The open gym games in Seattle are a lot like being back home in Atlanta," he explained. "A lot of the pros and a lot of the older guys come out since we're in the city. Back at Stanford it was really just us. In Seattle you've got guys like Will (Conroy), Jamal (Crawford), Bobby (Jones) – the runs are more competitive. The other day we had the NBA guys versus the Husky guys and it got really competitive."
With Conroy around all of the time, it isn't hard to believe. The trash-talking former Husky - with a notorious gift for pushing buttons - tends to keep everybody on their guard.
"The dude just never shuts up!" Morris said, laughing. "A couple of my old teammates use to say he never cut his nails either. But yeah, I liked playing against Will. He makes you want to beat him. He's always a lot of fun."
Tim Morris Scout.com profile
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