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April 18, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Redick or Morrison? You pick (Morrison)

By Dick Weiss New York Daily News (KRT)

SPOKANE, Wash. – Everybody, it seems, wants to be like Adam Morrison these days – even his critics.

The free-spirited Gonzaga star with the floppy ’70s haircut, wispy mustache and green Celtics pullover from nearby Mead High has created a national stir at this small Jesuit college, prompting one undergrad in the enthusiastic student section at the new 6,000-seat McCarthey Center to even coif his hair the same way and grow a mustache in an attempt to create a body double.

Then there are the opposing fans.

At St. Mary’s recently, fans wore stick-on mustaches. At Santa Clara, they drew pencil thin mustaches above their lips. “I thought it was more of a compliment,” Morrison says. “They were trying to look like me, so thanks.”

When Gonzaga played at San Francisco, fans held up a picture of Larry Bird (Morrison is often compared to Bird) with a line that read, “Adam Morrison: Half the Stache. Half of the Player.” Morrison dropped 41 on them.

When the Zags played at Memphis, fans began yelling, “Where’s Scooby?” a reference to Scooby Doo’s cartoon pal Shaggy. Morrison hit the Tigers with 34.

He is clearly the best player on this Coast, maybe in the country. Entering Monday’s games, he’s averaging 28.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 36.2 minutes for the fifth-ranked Zags, who could be the first team from a mid-major conference to make the Final Four since Penn in 1979.

Morrison’s No. 3 game jersey is selling in the student bookstore for $69.99 and there are posters on sale that say, “You can’t stop the ‘stache.”

He is a local treasure, a hometown kid who never got any looks from the Pac-10, even though he set all the Greater Spokane scoring records and has made it big in his backyard.

“He’s a Spokane kid who’s not ashamed of Spokane,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few says. “He’ll stick up for it any time. This is home, and he really enjoys being here and playing before the hometown fans.”

Jud Heathcote, the retired Michigan State coach who coached Magic Johnson in college and now lives in Spokane, has season tickets to Zags home games and marvels at the phenomenon. “Look at all those people with mustaches,” he says. “Where everyone was in awe of what Magic did, I feel everyone here almost feels like they’re part of Adam Morrison.”

Many of the locals have made outrageous comparisons between Morrison and Larry Bird. “That’s probably because we’re the same height,” Morrison says. Morrison admits to owning a dozen tapes of his favorite player and being mesmerized by the way Bird took over games down the stretch.

Morrison, too, seems to play his best in his team’s biggest games, scoring 12 of his 34 points in the final three minutes of an 80-76 victory over Stanford. He scored 43 against both Michigan State and Washington, leading some pro scouts to consider taking him with the first pick in the NBA draft, provided he can demonstrate he can effectively function over the course of an 82-game NBA season with a disease that afflicts over a million people.

Extra challenges

Morrison has Type I or juvenile diabetes, which develops when the pancreas stops effectively producing insulin. He has lived with the disease since doctors diagnosed him when he was just 13 years old. Morrison’s father John, a former junior college coach from Casper, Wyo., could tell something was wrong when his son began tiring easily and frequently.

“I just remember being sick for a good month,” Morrison says. “I went to camp and only had three points the entire week. I knew something was wrong with me. I couldn’t function, do anything. I started losing weight and would always be hungry and thirsty.”

John Morrison knew the symptoms and suspected the worst: Diabetes runs in the family.

“My grandfather had it and my wife’s mother had it,” John Morrison says. “I knew it skips a generation. We kinda knew he was going to the bathroom quite a bit and we couldn’t fill him up. We got a doctor’s appointment and when the doctor said, ‘you have to go to the hospital right away because his blood sugar is off the charts,’ the first thing I thought about was, ‘Why wasn’t it me instead of him?’

“He’s been a trouper since Day 1. When the nurse came in to give him his second shot, he said, ‘Hey, you better show me how to do this because I’m going to have to do it for the rest of my life.’ You have to be disciplined if you want to have a normal life.”

Morrison’s parents helped him cope, but he didn’t know any athletes with diabetes, so he was basically on his own. He still carries apple juice, protein bars and peanuts to practice in the same bag he had in high school in case his blood sugar is low. He gives himself an insulin shot if it spikes. Morrison keeps a loaded syringe courtside for games and monitors his blood sugar level with a glucose meter during timeouts, injecting himself when necessary.

“It’s just feeling you need a boost,” Morrison says. “You’re light-headed and kinda get shaky, like if you haven’t eaten lunch and had gone out to play hoops. Your body craves sugar and once you get it in your body, you start coming back and feeling better.”

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