Fitting in at Concordia

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 9, 2005

The transition game is an important part of winning basketball.

However, Concordia freshman guard John Robert Morton has undergone even a tougher round of transition in his first season with the Hornets.

Morton has undergone many changes during his first season at Concordia. Along with the different style and level of play and competition, Morton has learned a new coach and a new level of expectations.

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“Coach Brown knew was he was getting with me,” Morton said. “He was getting a good offensive player who couldn’t play a lick of defense.

“Coach Brown hs taught me the game,” Morton said. “He’s a terrific coach. He’s done everything he said he was going to do.”

Among those promises Morton said his coach has kept including not only teaching him the game, but bringing him into a team that has been more of a second family to Morton.

During his inaugural season at Concordia, Morton has gone from being a star at Meadowview Christian School to what he calls the team’s sixth or seventh man off the bench. But Morton also said he has been forced to endure racial slurs when his team goes on the road.

“A lot of people call me ‘whitey’ when we go to another school,” he said. “I’m the only white player on the team, so I’ve had to deal with that.

“When I have problems like that,” Morton added, “my teammates always step in. My teammates are my brothers. They would do anything for me and I would do anything for them.”

According to Morton, the basketball court has been the most difficult area of change. Morton said college work is “a whole lot harder, but you have more time to study.”

The education major currently holds a 2.7 grade-point average. Morton said his GPA dropped a bit after he fell from a ‘B’ to a ‘C’ in English after missing a class to be with his grandmother in Pensacola, Fla., during Hurricane Ivan. His absence caused him to go over the maximum of four missed classes afforded a student each semester. After such a violation, the student’s grade is lowered by one letter.

“There was a big controversy about it,” he said. “But there was nothing I could do. That was my fifth missed day.”

That, however, has done little to dampen Morton’s spirits or lower his feelings for his school, his coach, or his teammates.

“Being here,” he said, “is like being around some of the nicest people on Earth.”

Even though Morton is enjoying his first semester at Concordia, he can’t help but remember the old days at Meadowview Christian. Morton said it would truly be a dream come true if one day MCS boys’ coach Rick Raines went to the coaching ranks and became the Hornets’ coach.

“I know there would be a lot of controversy if he were t come over here,” Morton said of his former coach. “I’d love for him to come here. A lot of people would like for him to come here, too.

“I’d do anything to play for him again,” Morton added. “I wouldn’t have to prove myself again.”