Brandon Morris: A True Basketball Lifer

Head Coach At Kenosha St Joe

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KSE: It has to be great going back and becoming head basketball coach at St Joseph’s Catholic Academy where you had many successes, how have you been received?

BM: Yes, it is quite a blessing to have this opportunity in being the Head Coach at the high school I went to and graduated from. From what I hear, there are many players that would love the opportunity to go back to their alma mater to coach but not all players get that opportunity. I am extremely fortunate of the timing of this opportunity and hopefully I meet all of my expectations while being in this position. I don’t feel I can get an accurate gauge on how I have been received because like any of us, when something new arrives we are all excited, happy and giddy. Besides, generally speaking I’m not entirely sure whether or not there were much expectations for a first year Varsity Head Coach.

KSE: Fill in the blank: “Kids these days……….”

BM: …will never quite understand what it’s like to be without basketball resources and rightfully so. It’s all about era’s and every era is totally different but every era is suppose to be better than the last since we all live by the creed “I want my kids to have things better than I had it, to live a better life than I lived.” I am living proof of that…there are so many resources built to increase a player’s opportunity of playing at the next level that it makes my head spin. 20 years ago, high school basketball players did not have these same resources. So for me, kids now days especially in the small market cities like a Kenosha, Racine, Zion, Waukegan really can’t say: “there’s no one around to help me, we don’t have any camps/showcases that we can go, there aren’t any travel teams to play for.

KSE: It has been said that a great player does not guarantee one with be a great coach, do you feel you have been successful in that transition from player to coach?

BM: That myth could very well be true; I wouldn’t know that since I have not considered myself a great player yet.. I’m not even sure what people consider a great high school basketball coach. I would say my journey is different than some coaches. I graduated from college in 2005 and I have been coaching high school basketball ever since….between 2005 and 2015, I was playing professionally off and on for six to nine months out of the year. In my opinion I have found success in my transition from player to coach simply because I made sure I was always a student of the game for all levels as well as I always made it a point to stay relevant to the game of basketball no matter the city I resided in at that time. My success level is graded based off the relationships that were built with the players but more so after their time of being coached by me. I tell parents all the time that I am probably not the right coach for your kid because I can be brutally honest when it comes to basketball and that can be taken as a not so nice coach. I don’t believe in sugarcoating and that can be taken as “Coach Morris is being too hard on the players, they are not like the players that you once played with nor against.”  So I am not a big fan of the whole participation trophies and lets give everybody a chance to find their game in the game because I feel you find your game in the off season, you find your game in practice, you compete at 100% in practice, consistently producing to prove not only to the coaching staff but your teammates as well that you deserve to play in the game and then consistently producing in the game. I was never the type of player that believed in the “everything is awesome,” basketball is a fairy tale with roses, lets give every player equal playing time. So it would be hard for me to coach that way.

KSE: Who was your greatest coaching influence?

BM: That’s an extremely tough question because I have been blessed to come across so many coaches so that list is never ending. But I will say Coach Tony Moore of the Kenosha Ballers and Greg Leach of Kenosha Bradford Boys Varsity. I choose those two gentlemen because those are the two that I was able to spend the most time with. I was able to get the most out of them when it came to being mentored as an aspiring coach.  Meaning those two coaches, took many hours of their personal time to break down many different things that were not always about basketball but it was eventually curved around the game of basketball. My growth as a basketball coach has been because of the life lesson conversation that I had with Coach Moore and Coach Leach. I have witnessed countless hours and efforts of these coaches searching for ways to help their teams reach their full potentials not just as basketball players but as young men. Two genuine kind-hearted gentlemen that care about people outside of their position as a basketball player, coach, parent, volunteer, etc. Always stressing how basketball is just apart of life, it’s not everything but use it to reach people like you would never be able to reach them in any other space.

KSE: Even now as a coach, do you just a little extra satisfaction from competing well against St Cats?

BM: Of course!! The history of all the great rivalry games before I even got to St. Joe’s was just a basketball player’s dream. It was always like a Duke and Carolina game in our eyes. Playing in those games when the gyms were sold out and the fans being so loud you couldn’t even hear the plays being called. I remember our sophomore year like it was yesterday; arriving to St. Cat’s gym and trying to get down to the locker room trhough an already packed gymnasium. “Feeling like rock stars” was an under statement.

KSE: Talk about the Administration and the culture at St Joes.

BM: I understand this can be up for debate with maybe a few other schools in the state but I would say we have “thee” best administration in the state of Wisconsin. They sincerely, genuinely care whole-heartedly about our student-athletes. They get it. It’s uniquely special at St. Joe’s and we all reiterate the importance of our Lancer Values. The administration has continued the tradition of the close-knit Lancer community and family.   I feel beyond blessed.

KSE: Please share your fondest high school hoops memory.

BM: All of the playoff games leading up to the WISSA State Tournament (“The Last Dance” the last WISSA State Tournament ever), beating Milwaukee Mesmer in the old Mecca to go to the State Tournament Championship game. All of the playoff games leading up to the WIAA State Tournament at the Kohl Center, losing by 1 point at the buzzer to go to the State Championship game. I’m wondering how many players are able to say that they played in the WISSA and the WIAA State Tournament?  I would also have to add all of the St. Joe’s vs St. Cats rival games I played in as well

KSE: As impossible as it is to give, please name your All-Time starting 5 All-KTown squad (including head coach).

BM: It’s far too difficult to name just five so I have to give my starting six; Note: these are just players I’ve seen play LIVE with my own eyes against extremely high level competition, not just locally:

Nick Van Exel, Walt Glass, David Tolefree
Jim Lindsey, Tim Smith, Al Steel
Coach Tony Moore

 

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