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TT Court Vision: Examining Darryl Morsell’s junior campaign

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We take to the film room to look at the Baltimore guard’s top plays from the 2019-20 season.

Darryl Morsell, Nebraska, 2020 Sarah Sopher / Testudo Times

Throughout this week, we’ve highlighted Jalen Smith, Anthony Cowan Jr. and Aaron Wiggins in our individual player film breakdowns.

Now, we turn our attention to “glue guy” Darryl Morsell.

Morsell, who started 29 of the 31 games, was very important to Maryland men’s basketball’s success this season, and much of what he brings to the team won’t show up on a stat sheet.

Let’s dive into some of Morsell’s best plays from the 2019-20 season.

Morsell’s 2019-20 final stat line: 8.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists per game, 43.1 percent field goal percentage, 33 percent three-point percentage, 76.6 percent free-throw percentage

Aggressive drives

I want to preface this by stating that Anthony Cowan Jr. is by far the quickest player on this Terp team and can get to the rim with ease. But in my opinion, Morsell puts together the most aggressive drives when he decides to attack the rim off the dribble.

And no play showcases this better than this sequence against Illinois Feb. 7.

After getting the ball in the corner from Cowan, Morsell had the opportunity to swing the ball to Donta Scott, who would probably throw a skip pass to Aaron Wiggins on the other side of the court.

But instead, the junior faked it to Scott and took two powerful dribbles to get to the rim. With Illinois’ Alan Griffin caught in a poor position for help defense, Morsell had a clear lane to the hoop for the easy slam.

Once again, Morsell took a soft pass from Cowan and caught his defender in a poor position. Understanding that he was already past the Rutgers defender, Morsell put on the burners to an open lane.

Despite his location on the court, this dunk is very similar to the one he had against the Fighting Illini. Though a few defenders attempted to stop him by reaching, there’s really not much you can do when Morsell gets a full head of steam due to his strength and athletic ability.

During this possession, it appeared as if Maryland was attempting to run a set play with Morsell coming off a Ricky Lindo Jr. screen and Smith setting a down screen on the other side of the court.

But Morsell had other plans.

As he was waiting for the screen from Lindo, Morsell noticed that none of the other Rhode Island defenders were paying attention to him. With a powerful swing through, the junior from Baltimore made the Atlantic 10 opponent pay with a powerful two-handed slam dunk.

Though he only had four points in this contest, Morsell’s dunk before halftime gave his team a bit of momentum going into the second half, and the Terps pulled out a 73-55 victory for their second win of the season.

Premier defense

Morsell is widely regarded as the best defensive player on Maryland, and rightfully so. When the Terps played teams with talented individual players, Morsell was usually the first guy in Turgeon’s committee of defenders that would be thrown at him.

Morsell demonstrates great ball awareness, which was on full display all season.

In defense, it usually comes down to one thing: Who wants it more. The best defenders take pride in stopping and out-hustling their opponents.

And that’s exactly what happened on this play in Maryland’s 16-point comeback win against Minnesota Feb. 26.

As the shot clock dwindled down in Minnesota's possession, the Golden Gophers looked for an answer. Sophomore center Daniel Oturu tried to drive on Scott, but decided to kick it out. With the wild pass almost going over his fellow Golden Gopher’s head, Morsell swooped in there and grabbed the ball, out-hustling two Minnesota players for it to lead to an easy dunk.

And if you didn’t know how big of a bucket this was for the Terps during this game, check out Turgeon’s reaction on the sideline.

Though this was a lazy pass from Ohio State’s Luther Muhammad, Morsell made this steal look so easy.

With junior center Kaleb Wesson flashing to the left elbow, Morsell seemed to interpret when the Buckeyes were going with the ball. Instead of allowing the easy pass to get to the Buckeye star, Morsell snatched it and was off to the races.

But one thing I want to highlight in this breakdown is his passing with Aaron Wiggins. As soon as Morsell picked the ball off, Wiggins sprinted down the court to give Maryland a 3-on-2 advantage with Cowan on the other side. Following Morsell’s pass to Wiggins, Muhammad put his attention to the sophomore, giving Morsell a perfect opportunity to finish the layup.

Three-point shooting

Morsell isn’t know for his outside shooting. During his freshman year, Morsell shot 12 percent from deep and during his sophomore year he made 29 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.

But this year was a little different as the junior showed a much-improved touch, shooting 33 percent from beyond the arc.

Though I don’t expect Turgeon to be running Morsell off any off-ball screens for three-pointers any time soon, Morsell did a good job at picking and choosing his shots from deep this season; and this play is a great example of that.

After Smith drew a double team from two Golden Eagles, Morsell was left on an island and had the option to drive or shoot. With his defender so late to recover, Morsell confidently caught the ball, turned his body square to the basket and made the right decision to pull the trigger.

The reason why Morsell’s improved shooting is so important can be on full display with this play against Illinois.

Cowan, who had a great game with a game-high 20 points, was getting a lot of attention drawn to him with Morsell’s defender Ayo Dosunmu sitting in the middle of the lane. As the senior guard noticed this, he quickly passed the ball to Morsell, who understood the situation and immediately shot the ball.

With Morsell’s ability to shoot the ball continuing to improve, it doesn’t allow defenders like Dosunmu to just play off him and sit in the lane.

I hope you didn’t think I forgot about this play.

With the game on the line, Cowan and Wiggins — two players you really would expect to take the final shot for the Terps — both had opportunities to tie the game or take the lead with only seconds remaining.

Instead, Wiggins swung the ball to Morsell, who was trailing behind on the play.

Once again, the junior ran to the top of the key with his hands ready and his knees bent in the case that the ball would come to him. Morsell rose to the occasion with seconds remaining and shot the ball — this time with a defender in good position — to give Maryland the comeback victory over Minnesota.

The shot was by far one of the best plays of the 2019-20 season and showcased just how far Morsell has come as an outside shooter.

Vision skills

Morsell’s passing skill is one aspect of his game that I don’t think he gets enough credit for. After sitting down to talk with Turgeon last season, Morsell started to notice the game differently from a ball security standpoint, and it showed this season.

The junior is fast and great at running the break and finding his teammates — as I touched on earlier with his two-man game with Wiggins against Ohio State.

Morsell was third on the team with 66 assists this year — behind only Cowan (147) and Ayala (77), who are the team’s two main ball handlers.

This play is not only a great example of Morsell’s passing but his defense as well.

Following a great interception of a Fighting Illini pass, Morsell, who always talked about how much he loved getting into the open floor and playing at a fast pace, leads the fast break and dishes a perfect bounce pass to Scott for the layup.

This pass by Morsell was by far my favorite of the season because I never saw the play developing like he did. And before I could blink, the ball was in the Smith’s hands and he was dunking the ball.

Morsell grabbed the rebound and pushes the pace with the option to toss it to freshman Hakim Hart. Instead of shooting it to Hart, who went 4-of-27 from deep this season, at the three-point line, Morsell stares the freshman down and throws a no-look pass to his high school teammate under the basket, catching everyone off guard.

I wanted to end on this play because it shows another aspect of Morsell’s talent on the court. We’ve seen in this film breakdown what he is capable of doing when driving to the rim or running the fast break, but Morsell was also very impactful in the middle of the zone, where he can pass and shoot in the teeth of the defense.

During this play, the Mount Saint Joseph product receives the ball from Ayala and immediately turns to Wiggins. With the defender anticipating that Morsell’s pass was heading to Wiggins outside, he cheated up, giving a perfect passing lane to Smith for the dunk.

Though the game was probably out of reach at the moment, this play seemed to be the cherry on top that secured the Orlando Invitational championship for the Terps.