Romar defends Tim Morris from media's "trashing"
The outpouring of opinion caused UW coach Lorenzo Romar to take a few minutes of out of usual meeting with the media Tuesday to defend Tim Morris for a second straight day, and Morris to explain what happened on the play in detail for the first time.
Seattle Times staff reporter
As he often does when he has free time in the afternoon, Washington guard Tim Morris watched the ESPN's Pardon The Interruption Monday.
Suddenly, he says "I saw them trashing me.''
PTI hosts Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser were only two of many national media types who have commented on Morris' play with 47 seconds left in Sunday's win over UCLA when he threw the ball hard off the face of Bruin forward Alfred Aboya in an attempt to save a possession. Wilbon called it "cheap.''
The attention has caught the Huskies a little off-guard.
"I am surprised,'' said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "One national columnist went as far as to say that Morris should have his scholarship revoked, and legendary UCLA coach John Wooden told the Los Angeles Times that he would have immediately benched Morris."
The outpouring of opinion caused Romar to take a few minutes of out of usual meeting with the media Tuesday to defend Morris for a second straight day, and Morris to explain what happened on the play in detail for the first time.
Morris said he simply was trying to bail his team out of a bad situation as he was attempting to inbounds the ball in front of the UCLA bench with the five-second count nearing. The Huskies led by five at the time.
"It was honestly just a reaction,'' said the 6-foot-4 senior. "We ran a play where guys are curling off and none of them were open and (UCLA) coach (Ben) Howland was in the way so I couldn't throw deep and I just reacted. He (Aboya) was so close I just kind of turned. I didn't mean to (hit him in the face). I didn't want to turn the ball over. He was so close. He's a big guy (6-9, 245) so I couldn't throw it off his knee and if I threw it at his torso he would have caught it. So it was just a reaction.''
As Morris noted, Howland was standing near Morris with his arms upraised, apparently trying to implore his players to raise their arms.
"He was definitely in the way,'' Morris said. "That's why I couldn't hit (teammate) Quincy (Pondexter) because he was definitely open.''
Morris immediately tried to apologize but Aboya wouldn't shake his hand. Morris said he then talked briefly with Aboya during the traditional postgame handshake line.
"I just wanted to let him know it was just in the heat of competition,'' Morris said saying he understood why Aboya initially declined to shake his hand.
"Honestly, I wouldn't have, either,'' he said. "Someone hits you in the face, you're not going to want to shake his hand. I don't hold anything against him.''
Other than being a little shaken, Aboya was unhurt on the play and said afterward that it was simply part of the game. Howland complained about the play afterward saying he asked the referees if there were something they could do. Pac-10 conference officials said Monday they reviewed the play and found that Morris did nothing wrong.
Romar defended Morris by pointing out that he has known him since he was 2 years old --- the coach and player are second cousins.
"Tim Morris is not a gangster, he's not a thug,'' Romar said. "Tim apologized right away. I don't think it was premeditated.''
He said it was "unfortunate'' that the Morris was being labeled in such a manner by some "knowing the type of kid Tim Morris is.''
Morris is a transfer from Stanford and has plans to eventually return to that school to finish the degree he started there. At Whitefield Academy in Atlanta, Ga., he was the first sophomore/junior to serve as student body president in the school's history.
"If Tim Morris would have reared back and aimed at the guy's face and hit him in the face, we would have had problems, him and I,'' Romar said. "But that wasn't what happened.''
As he did Monday, Romar said that Morris was in a confined space with few other options and the five-second count nearing.
Told about the comment from Wooden, Romar -- who worked as an assistant at UCLA from 1992-96 --- said that the former Bruins coach "is the wisest man I ever met.''
"I know coach Wooden and I know how he is and that there are certain things he didn't tolerate with his team,'' Romar said.
He recalled that when he was an assistant with the 1995 team that won the national title, UCLA guard Toby Bailey did a reverse dunk late in the championship game and Wooden said later that "he would have been out of the game before his feet hit the floor. So I know how coach is. I understand what he is saying.''
Romar further noted it was unfortunate it was Aboya who was hit since he had suffered a fracture of the orbital area below his right eye earlier this season.
Morris, meanwhile, said he received text messages from friends all day telling him the latest that was being said. "I didn't mean to do it,'' he said. "I hope he's all right.''
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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