The Lakehead men's basketball team will have a familiar face calling the shots from the bench this year.
But it won't be Scott Morrison.
The longtime LU bench boss is taking a professional leave of absence and has accepted a role with the Boston Celtics affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, of the NBA Development League. Veteran assistant coach Matt Erdman will assume the role of interim head coach in his absence.
"It will be tough to part with our players, whom I have enjoyed working with the past two months and beyond," Morrison said in a statement.
"They would not have chosen Lakehead were it not for their desire to be the best they can be. For that reason I know they will understand why I must make an attempt to do the same."
The Prince Edward Island native was getting set to enter his 11th OUA season as the head coach of LU.
He's led the Wolves to four straight CIS Final 8 appearances, including a loss to Carleton in the championship game last year.
Morrison is in the midst of a multi-year contract with LU, but Athletic Director Tom Warden says that's not an issue and is voicing his support.
“It’s an incredible professional development opportunity,” Warden said. “Scott deserves this chance. When he returns our program will be all the more competitive.”
The Red Claws are one of 17 teams that play in the NBA D-League. Head coach Mike Taylor is excited to have a coach of Morrison's caliber on board.
“Scott will be heavily involved in the day to day activities of our coaching staff and his professional experience with our organization will be full ranging from assisting with our 2013 D-League Draft preparations and preseason tryouts to opponent scouting and on-floor drillwork," he said.
"His main responsibility will be in scouting and advance scouting, but we will take advantage of his experience and versatility by getting him deeply involved.”
Right now, the expectation is that Morrison won't be back for any games at Lakehead this year, but he does plan to return for the 2014-2015 season.