Recruited from Reno High School in Nevada, guard Austin Morgan ’13 has finished in the top 10 in multiple categories in the Ivy League conference during his three years at Yale. Last year he finished ninth in the Ivy League in scoring, fifth in three-point field goal percentage and sixth in three-point field goals made, as well as fifth in the nation in free throw percentage. The News sat down with Morgan to discuss his growing role on the team and his views on the season.
Q: For someone who’s never seen you play, describe your game and your role on the team.
A: I’m primarily a three-point shooter, but I try to be more of a versatile player and a playmaker to set my teammates up to succeed on the court.
Q: Following up on that shooting ability, how did you get that good at shooting? How many shots a day do you take?
A: I try to get in at least 100, 150 shots a day. As for free throws, I’ve been shooting them since I was in elementary school. I’ve always worked on it, and I’ve had coaches in high school and middle school stress their importance. So, I guess it rubbed off on me and I’m able to take advantage.
Q: Do you have any sort of free throw routine?
A: Yes, I always dribble it two times and then spin it and shoot.
Q: Your grandfather played with NBA Hall of Famers Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek and Hall of Fame NCAA coach Bob Knight. Did your grandfather impact your development at all?
A: I’ve grown up around basketball and that certainly helps. Obviously he’s way better than me, but you learn a lot from someone like that.
Q: How has your game evolved and adapted since high school?
A: I think the biggest improvement for me is being able to run off screens and get my shot off against bigger players because obviously in high school the players aren’t as big as in college. I think that was an adjustment, just being so much shorter, learning how to finish in the lane and make smart decisions — just becoming a more mature player overall.
Q: Did you have to adapt to playing more off the ball in college, as opposed to a more on the ball approach you may have had in high school?
A: Well, your game always evolves as your competition increases. But yeah, I used to play on the ball a bit more in high school, but coming to Yale, coach puts me in the best positions to succeed and it’s been a great time.
Q: Yale graduated leading scorer and rebounder Greg Mangano ’12 last. How will the team and you personally act to mitigate this loss?
A: Well, obviously losing Mangano and Reggie Willhite ’12 was a big loss for us, but we’re doing it through teamwork. We’re still finding roles on our team and everybody’s contributing. I think we’ll replace those guys through the majority.
Q: Yale is coming off a double overtime win against Army, in which you led the team with 19 points. The team has shown some troubles when it comes to rebounding, however. Is this a concern moving forward? Are there others?
A: Yeah, we’re still growing together as a team and we have a few guys coming off injuries. We just have to get used to each other and gain experience on the court, and hopefully we’ll improve with time.
Q: What are the team’s strengths?
A: Shooting, I think, is big for us. Just providing an outside threat and creating situations to score for each other.
Q: You’ve had a few games already and a few close losses. How do you see the season going? What are your expectations?
A: Yeah, it’s been a little tough. We’ve had some growing pains. But I think we’ll continue to get better and hopefully this adversity at the beginning of the season will help us later on.
Q: Do you think the freshmen on the team will be able to contribute this year, or will it take time to integrate them?
A: I think they’re all very talented and they all have a lot of great skills. If you’re ready, [the] coach will let you contribute. There really are no class distinctions. Maybe the seniors get a little preferential treatment, but everybody has the same opportunities.
Q: How will you look to serve in a leadership capacity along with the other seniors on the team?
A: No specific goals like that, but you always want to set a good example for the younger players on the team and give them direction whenever you can. Obviously Sam Martin’s a great captain and Mike Grace is obviously a great leader, too, so the three of us share the duties. I think it will pay dividends for us in the long run, having three different voices on the team.