Morrison does the heavy lifting

Second-year point guard Nicole Morrison is an avid weight lifter off the court

Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros
Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

Nicole Morrison is no stranger to heavy lifting.

The second-year Wilfrid Laurier University guard has shouldered much of the workload caused by injuries on the women’s basketball team.

As a high school powerlifter, Morrison won two provincial championships and set a record in the 74-kilo weight class.

She picked up the sport at the prompting of a coach, who felt the gains made through a rigorous weight-training schedule would transfer over to her on-court performance.

“He said it was a good transition from sport-to-sport, because being physically strong and athletic is important [in basketball].

I have the body build for it — I’m short, stocky, muscular,” said Morrison.

“After the season, it really helped me gain strength for in-season. In-season, I’d work more on my agility and my cardio.”

The experience as a dual-sport athlete is something she feels has bettered her as a basketball player.

“It definitely helped when I came in here transitioning from high school to university,” she said.

“The girls are stronger, they’re more athletic — it’s just a whole different level. So I found that it really helped me transition from playing against girls who have never picked up a weight in their life to girls who have been training for four or five years at a high intensity sport.”

Morrison’s career as a Golden Hawk is just over one year old, but she has already assumed a vital role on the roster as a physical, high-energy force who can fill holes at three different offensive positions.

The women’s basketball team is out to a brisk 3-1 start to the season. While many have performed roles crucial to this early success, Morrison’s contributions have helped in the formation of a well-balanced offence that distributes the ball and utilizes all members.

“I always put pressure on myself to be the one to help my teammates score,” she said.

“I take pride in being able to get the ball down the floor fast and have Whitney [Ellenor] score an open layup rather than having to take it myself.”

Morrison’s statistical improvements from her freshman year have coincided with a sharp increase in minutes. Averaging 30 minutes in her sophomore year, her points per game has doubled and her assists and rebound rates climbed as well.

While the sheer increase in scoring changes have resulted in the higher rate stats, Morrison credits a more self-assured style of play as a factor in her growth.

“I think first year, I tried to play it safe, not trying to do too much and trying to avoid as many mistakes as I could,” she said. “This year, I feel like I have more confidence …  I will take that shot, I will drive to the basket because I know that I can. I have the confidence in myself to do it and I know that’s what my coach wants me to do.”

Injuries have been a large obstacle to overcome so far for Laurier.

This has often left the team shorthanded and on one occasion, brought the tally of available players down to six.

Under these circumstances, diminished performance from the squad would be understandable.

But Morrison is confident her group will be able to heal up and build on their run of early success, so long as they keep playing team-oriented basketball.

“When everyone is more concerned about the team doing well and the team scoring, it doesn’t really matter who’s scoring and we all seem to be double digits. The games that I remember the most, the games where we’ve done so well, are because the whole team is scoring, not just one or two people.”

Fresh off a blowout win versus York and a tight, hard-fought 56-53 win at Queen’s, the Golden Hawks will return home next weekend to face off against Carleton and Ottawa, whose Ontario University Athletics’ records are 2-2 and 3-1, respectively.

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