Erica Morrow had already begun the transition from player to coach, but now she back on the court and playing professionally overseas.
When the Canarsie resident and former Murry Bergtraum star graduated Syracuse University three years ago, she turned down chances to play professionally in order to stay at the school. After playing four stellar seasons as an undergrad, Morrow stayed on as the club’s graduate assistant, and was the program’s director of basketball operations for a year after that, all while earning a Masters degree in broadcast journalism.
“I’m like, this would be a perfect segue into coaching,” Morrow said. “Eventually, that’s what I wanted to do.”
She enjoyed her job and learned a lot working with the Syracuse staff, but then she felt the itch to lace up her sneakers again. Morrow decided it was time to give it a go while she still could.
“While my body can still do it, I want to do it,” Morrow said. “I wanted to experience it.”
Her choice to put her coaching aspirations on hold to play professionally overseas paid off. The 25-year-old Morrow, a consensus high school All-American and one of Syracuse’s all-time scoring leaders, showed she had plenty of game left. The 5-foot-8 guard averaged 19.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per contest for Elfic Fribourg in Switzerland, where she will play again this fall.
Morrow believes her time coaching and seeing the game from a different perspective left her better prepared for playing professionally. She said it taught her about game preparation, dissecting film and allowed her to slow things down on the court and see what needed to be done. And her appreciation and understanding of the nuances of basketball has grown as she played overseas.
“In the United States it is more athleticism — who is going to be faster, who is going into this move,” Morrow said. “Over there, it is about thinking the game. That game is a lot slower. It’s a lot more physical. It’s a lot more mental. I see a lot of girls go overseas and not last because they can’t tune into the IQ part of the game.”
Her mental toughness was never in question. Legendary Murry Bergtraum coach Ed Grezinsky called her one of the best competitors he ever coached. She won the Public School Athletic League city title four times and took home two state Federation crowns. In his eyes, she willed the program to remain at a high level after the graduation of Epiphany Prince and after losing to Christ the King in the state Federation title game in 2006. The following year, Morrow led the Lady Blazers to a second state Federation crown and a 27–0 record.
“When Epiphany gradated a lot of people thought this may be the end, ‘that’s it for Bergtraum,’ and she said, ‘No, I’m not going to let that happen,’ ” Grezinsky said. “She put the team on her back.”
That didn’t chance in college. Morrow went on to score 1,658 points over her four years as a player at Syracuse, and helped propel the program in the perennial Top 25 team it is today. She finally returned home this summer, after seven years at Syracuse, to play in local streetball tournaments like West 4th, Gershwin Park and Entertainers Basketball Classic at Rucker Park to help keep herself in shape. Morrow was the most valuable player in the Gershwin Park womens’ all-star game. She hoped the New York City fans remember who she is and what she has accomplished as a player.
“I hope they did,” Morrow said. “I haven’t been home in a long time and played, so it has been fun reconnecting with some of the girls I haven’t seen.”
They can see her now, back excelling on the court. Coaching on the bench can wait.