During his first two seasons at Maryland, junior guard Darryl Morselll was your standard “glue guy”. The perfect role player, Morsell did all the little things: grab rebounds, dive for loose balls, guard multiple positions, set good screens.
Now in his third season, Morsell still does all the dirty work that makes him special but he has developed his offensive game exponentially. While statistically he has not made a huge leap, he is scoring the ball at a much more efficient rate. He’s improved his passing while also becoming a better free throw shooter, bumping his percentage up to 77 percent from the charity stripe.
“In high school, Darryl always (was) one of the offensive threats. Pretty much going into college, he got that label of being a defensive threat,” said Jalen Smith, who played with Morsell at Mount Saint Joseph. “Out of everybody, I know he can score. I don’t wanna say he backs down but he plays his role. If the offense comes, it comes for him.”
With exceptional offensive talent around him, Morsell can sometimes fade into the background. But when he is needed most, the Baltimore native continues to deliver. In the Orlando Invitational Title game against Marquette, Morsell went for a season-high 17 points, draining two of this three three-point attempts and snagging 10 rebounds. The junior seldom gets recognition for his effort but was named to the All-Tournament team.
On Saturday in a late-win over Illinois, Morsell drained a massive three-pointer in the second half to cut the lead to five. Everyone will remember Anthony Cowan’s three pointer to tie the game, but it would have never happened had Morsell not grabbed an offensive rebound off of Aaron Wiggins’ missed jumper. Morsell, who has seen a four percent increase in his three point shot, attributes his improvement to confidence and hard work.
“It’s all confidence for me. In high school, I scored the ball and stuff like that so just staying confident offensively. Even when it’s not going for me,” Morsell said. “ Not trying to force, just letting the game come to me. Just tryna stay in the gym and keep my confidence up.”
Morsell’s offense has not cut into his defensive intensity, where he is still one of the better on-ball defenders in the country. Against Marquette, he held 5’11 Markus Howard (the nation’s leading scorer) to just six points. Against Illinois, Morsell started the game matched up on 6’9 Giorgi Bezhanishvilli.
“For him to be able to play two through for four us, that’s huge in terms of the different defenses that we do,” said Cowan.
Morsell’s ability to guard one through four is the key to their small-ball lineup which has arguably been the team’s best group. When Morsell, Eric Ayala, Cowan, Wiggins and Smith share the court together, it’s the most experienced group Tugreon has. He deploys it when the Terps are in need of a run the most.
The smaller lineup has started the past three games for the Terps. If Turgeon starts with this five on Thursday, it will likely be Morsell tasked with guarding Penn State’s star forward Lamar Stevens. Stevens exploded for 24 points in Penn State’s 78-61 victory over the Terps last February.
Whether he likes it or not, Morsell may never be able to shed the rep as a “glue guy.” Before Penn State, Cowan referred to him as such without being prompted. But the glue guy title may no longer be appropriate for Morsell. He’s been one of their most consistent performers and is constantly the engine that sparks their runs.
“The one thing we don’t talk about is how much time our guys spend in the gym. Darryl is in the gym every night because he wants to be a guy you have to guard,” said Turgeon. “It’s good for a guy like that to put so much time in to make shots.”
If Maryland wants to continue to justify their top five ranking, Morsell will continue to guard the opposing team’s best player and hustle. But they will also need him to play with that same fire on offense. Based on what he’s shown so far, the Terps should be in good hands.
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