Believe it or not, we’re less than a month away from basketball season. That’s right, both men’s and women’s basketball games are right around the corner. To kick off our coverage of the 2021-22 coverage of the women’s team, we will preview each player on Northwestern’s roster. Up next is forward Anna Morris, a sophomore hailing from Mahwah, N.J.
Who she is
Sophomore; forward; 6-foot-3, Mahwah, N.J.; named 5-star recruit and ranked No. 46 prospect in the HS Class of 2020 by ESPN.
10.5 minutes per game; 2.2 points per game; 0.7 assists per game; 1.1 rebounds per game; 0.3 steals per game, 0.7 blocks per game, 37.7 FG%; 7.7 3P%; 40.0 FT%.
Anna Morris entered the Northwestern women’s basketball program as one of the highest ranked recruits in the team’s history. Nonetheless, her predicted playing time at the beginning of the 2020 season was up in the air — if NU head coach Joe McKeown decided to play a game more dependent on the physical size of the team, Morris would have been one of his first additions to the regular rotation. However, Northwestern approached the season with a more tactically focused approach, and, as such, her role was limited behind veterans Courtney Shaw, Sydney Wood and Lindsey Pulliam.
The New Jersey native, along with fellow freshman Paige Mott, did see a significant uptick in playing time when Shaw sustained a lower-body injury midway through the season. Primarily positioning herself in the paint, Morris made appearances in 20 matchups last year, and she was able to make somewhat of an impact each time she stepped foot on the court. Though the period where she earned most of her playing time aligned with the games where the ‘Cats faced the most offensive struggle, Morris still managed to field a slightly above average field-goal percentage by team standards. That being said, the forward should be able to build on her relatively small stat-line this season.
Though she did play a significant total number of minutes, the amount of time Morris was on the court per game was not the most conducive to her ability to establish some sort of flow in her play. Therefore, her sample size from last season is small. Nonetheless, her energy on the court cannot be expressed through numbers. Morris clearly takes after her teammate Lauryn Satterwhite in terms of the energy she brings off the bench. She showed a thorough understanding of how to use her height to her advantage, even if her skillset was a little bit behind her more experienced Big Ten teammates and opponents. Morris did boast 13 blocks, the same number as Shaw, which is impressive for the limited amount of time she wound up playing. The bottom line is that if she improves her tactical play, she will be a dangerous asset for McKeown and company for years to come.
With all of the positives Morris’ play brings to this Wildcat team, some of the numbers in her condensed stat-line still pose concern for a recruit of her caliber. Though her fondness of pulling up behind the arc is a positive, the forward was unable to finish all but one of her 13 three-point attempts on the season. In addition, she only managed to score 2.2 points per game — the lowest on the team among players who played significant minutes. Additionally, a 1.1 rebound per game average is a much lower than you’d expect from a player as tall Morris is and a recruit as highly-touted as she was.
The sophomore also struggled with foul-play, too. She averaged just under two fouls per game, nearly one foul every five minutes. However, the foul trouble is something that could be attributed to her lack of experience in such a fast paced level of play. As her experience on the court increases, her maturity in high-pressure situations will likely improve as a result.
This year is pivotal for Morris to prove herself as an integral part of this Wildcat team, and she does have some competition. McKeown’s incoming recruiting class was ranked top ten in the nation, with two of the five recruits slated in the same position as Morris. To make matters more difficult, Morris still has fellow sophomore Paige Mott and veteran Courtney Shaw as barriers to a starting spot. Nonetheless, Wildcat fans can still expect Morris to be a regular facet of McKeown’s rotation if she can translate her ample energy into her shooting abilities and her height advantage. In order for her to really emerge as the prospect she came into this program as, Morris will have to step up and become a reliable asset, both to her teammates and coach alike.