THUNDER BAY -- A familiar presence will be back on the sidelines at the Thunderdome for the upcoming basketball season.
After taking a season-long leave to work with a team in the NBA D-League, Scott Morrison is returning to take back the reins as head coach of the Lakehead Thunderwolves men’s basketball squad.
The veteran bench boss is back working with the team he has spent the past decade building, already getting into their off-season program. Even though he was not physically with the team last year, Morrison still had a pulse on the group.
“I kept in good touch with (the coaching staff) and the players so I knew what was going on,” Morrison said during an off-season workout.
“It was kind of like being a general manager for a year, and if anything, I learned I don’t ever want to be a general manager. I’d rather be on the court being hands on and thinking you’re affecting things.”
In his absence, interim coach Matt Erdman led one of the youngest teams in the country to a fourth place finish in the OUA West Division and a home first round postseason matchup.
Even though they dropped that playoff contest, Morrison commended the job done by Erdman and the rest of the coaching staff.
Erdman will return to his role as Morrison’s right hand man and looks to build upon the foundation he laid last year.
“It’s great to have Scott back,” Erdman said. “He’s brought back a lot of things already and the guys are excited to have him back and I think everyone is looking forward to what is going to come up.”
Morrison, who had served as the Thunderwolves bench boss for the prior 10 seasons, accepted an opportunity to work with the Maine Red Claws, the affiliate of the Boston Celtics.
During his time away Morrison primarily worked on the offensive game planning and scouting. He also had the opportunity to interact with the coaching staff of the Celtics, as well as observe big league practices and games.
The players are excited to take advantage of what Morrison has gleaned from the second highest level of basketball on the continent, says veteran guard Alex Robichaud.
“He’s definitely shown us a few things (already),” Robichaud said. “He was coaching some of the best in the world and some of them were called up to the NBA. It just shows the level he was coaching at.”
Morrison hopes working with various types of players with different skill sets in Maine will enhance his coaching ability for some current members of the Lakehead roster, particularly with players such as Australian seven-footer Brent Wallace, who will be entering his sophomore campaign.
“Having a couple of big guys at Lakehead we’re not used to having, getting to work with some actual big dudes down there and how they can be best utilized will hopefully help us here going forward,” Morrison said.
While the program is back to normal, now it might be a question of how long it lasts.
Erdman acknowledged he might begin to explore head coaching vacancies after getting a brief taste of holding the top job.
While Morrison was adamant in his long-standing position of refusing to bolt for another school, he said enjoyed his time at the professional level and did not rule out the possibility of going down that path in the future.
“I’ve known for a number of years now that if I was going to stay at the university level this is the spot I want to be,” he said.
“I think down the road I definitely want to look at levels at the pro level just for the sake of experience of nothing else.”
In the short-term, the next step for Morrison is to firm up his recruits to add to a core he believes is poised to make the leap and return to national contender status.