Seeing Things Develop Before They Happened Helped Mike Morrison (Panevezys Lietkabelis) Develop Further With The Fraport Skyliners

Mike Morrison is a 29 year old 206cm center from St Petersburg Florida playing his sebenth full professional season and first with Panevezys Lietkabelis (Lithuania-LKL). He played the last four years with the Fraport Skyliners winning the Fiba Europe Cup in 2016. He played a total of 184 games including 137 easyCRedit BBL games. He also got experience playing in countries like Belgium, Cyprus and Finland. He began his basketball career at Lakewood High School and then played at George Mason (NCAA) from 2008-2012 playing a total of 127 NCAA games and as a senior played 32 games averaging 9.8ppg, 6.6rpg, 1.4apg, 2.0bpg, FGP: 59.0%, FT: 55.0%. He spoke to before a basketball Champions league game in Bamberg.

Mike Welcome back to Germany. You are in Bamberg preparing for a Basketball Champions League game against Brose Bamberg. If you had to make a prediction what your record against Bamberg with Frankfurt was in your 4 years in Germany what would it be?

I believe I was hurt 2 games against them and didn’t play. so I would say 2-4. 3-4 if you count a preseason game we beat them in.You missed two games and only had a 2-4 record. What was always the most difficult thing abouthaving to come to Bamberg and survive on the court?

(See. I was right!) Well it’s a combination of strong teams and a strong home court. They always have solid players but that home crowd really shows up to support.

After 4 years with the Fraport Skyliners you have a new challenge with Panevezys Lietkabelis (Lithuania-LKL). Have you even attempted to try to pronounce it or have you been able to pronounce it since it’s a tough one?

Yeah, it’s not as hard as it seems to pronounce once you hear it a few times.

Fans wanted you to remain in Frankfurt, Tez did, I did and many more. Why did you choose to go? I can imagine that Tez really tried to keep you in Frankfurt.

I loved Frankfurt, the players, and the coaches and still do. It’s just about choosing what’s the right opportunity for you. I love basketball and wouldn’t mind playing anywhere that’s a good opportunity and a great experience.

17.12.2017 Fraport Skyliners gg. Alba Berlin

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber covered Mike Morrison from 2014-2018 in Frankfurt as he played with the Fraport Skyliners

Before we talk about the Fraport Skyliners let’s talk about your new team Panevezys Lietkabelis (Lithuania-LKL). Has it been a tough adjustment to the culture and living? I can’t imagine you have the same conditions as in Frankfurt with the mall and training facility within walking distance of your apartment?

Of course moving to a new place is always an adjustment but it was a pretty smooth transition. I’m not in a mall but the city is much smaller so getting places is pretty easy. They do a pretty good job of taking care of us and whatever we need.

I saw you make a slick behind the back pass in an early game. I remember Joe Voigtmann having that in his arsenal. Did you pick that up from him when you were teammates or was that something you always had, but never had the audacity to perform on the court?

Jumbo Jo has all the moves for sure but I didn’t steal that one from him lol. I’ve always been a pretty good passer but It’s not flash, it was actually just the best pass to make that play to hold the defender. A regular bounce pass would have been easier to react to

Your playing for a team that hasn’t won much in their history, but finished third and fourth in the last two seasons. Does the team have the quality to compete with some of the big name teams in Lithuania this season?

Well we definately have the talent. Our goal isn’t to focus on other teams, but to get better every day and if we can do that then we will be in the right position at the end of the season.

There are only two Americans on the team with you and Jamar Wilson. Have you gotten a more close bond to him in the early going because there are so little Americans on the team?

I can relate with Jamar a lot more on some things but as far as getting along with guys we all have good relationships. These guys are cool and I can’t help but be social. I even got Phil (Scrubb) to talk to me a lot!

With only two Americans on the team do you see yourself having more of a consistent offensive role with this team in comparison to Frankfurt?

Americans has nothing to do with the quality of players. Its 2018 basketball is worldwide and guys can play all over the world.

Soon you will be battling your ex George Mason teammate Ryan Pearson. How much are you looking forward to that game and do you have any friendly wagers going on?

We don’t have any wagers but I look forward to that game a lot! Ryan is one of my best friends. He was in my wedding and all. Look forward to competing with him and were still working on being on the same team.

I figured you might follow Quantez Robertson and try to finish your career also in Frankfurt. There are little players in the BBL that have been more valuable to their team than he does. What do you feel was the biggest attribute that Tez has in his character that has had a big impact on his game being so consistent and successful?

Tez is a jack of all trades. He makes a coaches job so much easier because you can use him in so many different ways. His best attribute is his work ethic. Goes hard every day, forcing others to do the same. Plays so hard during games and can play 40 minutes.

You had many great memories in Frankfurt with the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup probably being your favorite team accomplishment. What was your sweetest memory from that amazing run?

Just finally watching the seconds run off the clock. knowing we finally did it after falling short the year before.

You had many memorable plays like your three pointer and countless dunks and the botched off the back board dunk attempt between you and Tez. What was your favorite play with the Fraport Skyliners?

Wow. Tough to pick 1. Maybe the dunk on Smeulders in Oldenberg. that was a pretty good one.

You improved your scoring each season with the Fraport Skyliners. How do you feel did your game develop further and what will you never forget from coach Gordon Herbert in how he tried to help you become a better player?

Player development is what coach Gordie and Klaus do so well. That’s why young Germans love to come play under them. They both helped me greatly. Not only with my skills, but also knowledge of the game. I see things developing before it does just because I’ve listened to them for so long. If coaching is in the future I will be using a lot of their philosophies.

You played with so many great players over your four years with the Fraport Skyliners, but if you had to name another player besides Tez that had a great impact on you who would you pick?

I couldn’t name one. John Little showed me my intensity could always be higher. Aaron Doornekempshowed me how to be a real professional on and off the court. Jordan Theodore showed me to keepyour confidence in self no matter what. Phil showed me how not reacting to uncontrollable things can help your focus. Sean Armand reminded me that sometimes you just have to go kill the guy
lined up in front of you and Shavon Shields reminded me a few years later.

The Fraport Skyliners are celebrating their 20th anniversary this season. What made it so easy and so enjoyable to play for this organization?

Just all around good people. That’s important to me. I spoke with everyone from players, coaches, to
the people in the office, and the workers at the arena. Everyone was cool.

Before coming to the Fraport Skyliners you had already been a professional for two full years. The year before you played with Joensuun Kataja Basket (Finland-Korisliiga) playing 55 games averaging 14.0ppg, 7.7rpg, 1.5apg, Blocks-1 (1.6bpg), FGP: 60.2%, FT: 57.7%; and 6 EuroChallenge games averaging 13.3ppg, 8.2rpg, 1.5apg, 2.0bpg, FGP: 49.3%, FT: 53.8%. You were teammates with Jared Newson who was the last cut of the Dallas Mavericks in 2007. He came half way through the season, but probably displayed the one or other nice dunk. Did his slam dunk qualities pass your test?

The guy is STILL athletic, amazing. We were having game dunk contests in Finland. I miss that.

You played your first full rookie season with Cytavision Apoel Nicosia (Cyprus-Division A) playing 28 games averaging 11.8ppg, 5.0rpg, FGP: 62.6%, FT: 48.1%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Cyprus where you knew that you were very far away from home?

Basketball is basketball. That’s the easy part. But you really have to learn to take care of yourself, your body, your home. Your on your own for real.

In 2012 after finishing at George Mason you came to Europe and played 7 games with Antwerpen. Do you remember any advice that Ralph Biggs gave you in terms of testing the market that summer and coming back to Europe the next season?

We never really spoke about that. My time in Antwerp was a blur. I had to learn a new team, new system, and a different level of game. Being thrown right into playoff basketball wasn’t easy. With all  of that I still had school work between practices so I could graduate. The guys were really just helping
me adjust to Europe and the game.

You played at George Mason form 2008-2012 reaching the CAA tournament final in 2009. When you look back at your four years what was your most memorable moment there with the school?

On the court the most memorable moment for sure was beating Villanova in the tournament. That game was an instant classic.

You also hold a school record 7 blocks in a game with George Evans who also played in Germany. Even though this is so long ago, can you still remember some of those blocks now?

I didn’t even know that. But to do anything George Evans has done is a metal of honor to us Mason Patriots so that’s pretty cool.

You only played one season with beast Darryl Monroe when you were a freshman. How important was having him on board in terms of getting that physical edge early?

Darryl was and is still so talented and really thinks the game. In that 1 year I soaked in as much knowledge as I could. physically I was 200 pounds, there was nothing I could do with him.

How did head coaches Jim Larranaga and Paul Hewitt help groom and prepare you best for a
professional career?

They both are very successful coaches but, more than that, great people. Those 2 and all the assistants played a big part in making me the man I am today on and off the court.

Who won a one on one in practice you or Erik Copes?

Erik Copes was a physical specimen ! He was much further along as a freshman than I was. But he got senior Mike Mo so I knew how to get the best of him most the time.

Who was the best player that you battled in the NCAA that made it to the NBA?

Jared Sullinger gave me trouble. He had skill and knowledge of the game. Add a loaded team and that was a rough game.

If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick?

No particular order. Kareem, Jordan, Kobe, and Lebron.

What is your personal opinion of the never-ending debate of who is the best of all-time Jordan or

My personal opinion is its annoying. They were 2 different types of players in 2 different eras. I think we get to caught up in these debates and underappreciate the guy we think is 2nd. was the last movie that you saw?

In Theaters Venom. I’m excited for Aquaman and the next Avengers. Got to see what they going to do about Thanos.

Thanks Mike for the chat.


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