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The angry brilliance of Dallas Morgan


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Central Michigan guard Dallas Morgan exits the tunnel before a game  against Northern Illinois Jan. 7 at McGuirk Arena.

With just under an hour left on the pregame clock, senior guard Dallas Morgan is stretching. He paces from sideline to sideline briskly, joining the rest of his Central Michigan teammates in a variety of exercises designed to loosen up their bodies in anticipation of the upcoming game against Bowling Green. The Falcons are the top dog in the conference, their 8-1 mark placing them above the rest of the Mid-American Conference. 

Morgan wears a white shooting sleeve on his right arm that matches the pristine color of his uniform, the white jersey covered by a maroon short sleeve shirt. The entire team has this warm-up shirt on and appears in unison, however, one element Morgan features stands out — his earbuds. While his teammates rock AirPods or Beats, Morgan prefers the Bose counterparts. 

After stretching, Morgan disappears from the floor for an extended period of time. While nothing serious was expected and no news of injury was reported, confusion begins to settle in with regards to why Morgan is not with his teammates. A moment later, he emerges from the tunnel

Morgan wastes no time getting into a groove by nailing three consecutive triples off feeds from student managers and then, feeling it by now, crosses over before knocking down a fourth consecutive 3-pointer. 

The rest of warmups is a blur and soon Morgan's name is blasted from the speakers while he twirls a ball on the McGuirk Arena jumbotron. He slaps hands with his teammates and is soon lost a fray, shoved by senior forward Rob Montgomery and then enveloped by the rest of the squad. McGuirk Arena is full of energy. 

The maroon and gold know what is at stake tonight: A chance to prove their mettle against the Bowling Green Falcons, winners of eight straight. The cloud of smoke rising from the machines adjacent to the Chippewa tunnel is an omen. 

Morgan gets a bucket right away, dribbling twice around a screen and then hoisting a left-handed jumper that falls through the net. After Montgomery knocks down a triple, Morgan hits one of his own from the left wing. He exhales, the metaphorical ice broken, and gets back on defense.

"Once I see the ball go in, I get myself in a rhythm," Morgan said. "Hitting those shots early, I felt like anything could go in." 

Exactly 29 seconds later, Morgan gets another look at a 3-pointer. He knocks it down and immediately puts both hands by his waist as if it was a holster, a common post-triple celebration. He claps his hands together and wears an angry grimace on his face.

Junior guard Dallas Morgan celebrates after an and one call against Kent State on March 14 in Quicken Loans Arena.

With eight of his team's first 11 points, Morgan tries another long ball on his team's next possession. McGuirk Arena's crowd rises to its feet only to fall back down when his shot misses long. 

He nearly gets another look at a mid-range jump shot before passing off to senior guard Kevin McKay in mid-air. He checks out with 13:32 remaining in the first half, replaced by junior guard Devontae Lane.

The native of Peoria, Illinois will check back in with 9:05 left in the half. He matches up with Bowling Green's Michael Laster, a sixth-man who averages 3.9 points per game and has not made a 3-pointer all season. 

Nearly four minutes go by without Morgan on the scoreboard. The senior has been through stretches like this before and serves as a way for opponents to neutralize the massive scoring threat he poses. Against Buffalo, Morgan made just 2-of-13 shots in an 86-67 loss. He also disappeared for much of the second half in the Chippewas' victory on Saturday over Western Michigan in Kalamazoo. 

However, he wouldn't be quiet for much longer. Morgan claps for the ball but is unheard by junior guard Deschon Winston. Moments later, the ball finds its way to McKay, who kicks it to Morgan for the shot he wanted. The lefty rises and releases from beyond the arc, his release frozen in time for a split second before the ball splashes through the net. 

The crowd is electrified by the make, as is Morgan. He turns and flexes, releasing some of the pent up rage he takes with him each time he takes the court through screaming an expletive before assuming his position on defense. The anger is present again, showing through his grimace. His shot has given the Chippewas their biggest lead of the game to this point at 34-22. 

He does it again with just over two minutes remaining in the half, creating the shot entirely on his own through a series of dribble moves before rising again with his picturesque left-handed jump shot that can be so lethal. This triple puts a pin in a Bowling Green 11-4 spurt that had trimmed the Chippewa lead to five and once again electrified the crowd. 

"Everyday, I just try to bring something, bring energy to our team," Morgan said. "On and off the court, even in practice. Sometimes we struggle getting going early and it's not even about scoring. We try to find other ways to get going, whether it be defense or getting rebounds. Anything that can get us some type of energy."

He once again wears his trademark mean-mug that looks to be half pain, half "try me." One assumes it must be the latter because when he gets going, there's no pain to be had. It can be effortless for him at times —

Dribble, shoot, score, repeat.

Senior forward David DiLeo hits the second of his six 3-pointers on the night to beat the first-half buzzer, falling to the ground and landing on the "Flying C" logo at mid-court in the process. Morgan raises his hands to the sky and runs after DiLeo but only catches him after DiLeo is forced to pause his trot across the court. 

"It's been a great two years with him so far," DiLeo said of Morgan. "Dallas is another shooter out there, so once I see his shot go in, it gives me confidence."

DiLeo knocked transfer guard Preston Enloe to the hardwood in celebration, allowing his teammates to form a circle of celebration around their celebrated leader, who tied the school's 3-point record with his six triples on Tuesday night. 

"Dave’s one of our great leaders," Morgan said of DiLeo. "One thing he always does in practice and in games is go hard. Even when things aren’t going our way, he maintains that positive message. He’s always here to pick up his teammates.” 

DiLeo steals the show in the second half with four triples, including a catch-and-shoot rocket that falls through the net and vaults him to the top of the record books. He's now tied with Josh Kozinski for the top spot and will take over the leaderboard with his next made 3-pointer, whenever that may be. 

On one DiLeo triple, Morgan can be seen gritting his teeth and closing the thumb and pointer finger together on both hands to represent threes. Morgan gets the assist on the play, the only one he'll have on the night. 

"We complement each other," DiLeo said. "We spread the floor so well and you've seen games in the past where I get hot first and (when) they focus on me, it's Dallas' turn to get open."

There are still flashes of high-scoring Morgan, such as a putback off his own miss that gets him over the 20-point threshold and a 3-pointer from a foot in front of the media table, a shot that is out of range for many players — even at his level. He later works his way to the basket and scores through contact and eventually hits all six of his free throws. 

"Even though he takes some shots that are pretty difficult, we know he shoots a pretty high-percentage on those," Chippewa coach Keno Davis said. "He's the first guy to cheer his teammate who takes a shot or makes a shot. It's not just about him getting shots in his mind."

Central Michigan guard Dallas Morgan holds off Youngstown State guard Devin Morgan Jr. in an attempt to secure a steal Nov. 30 at McGuirk Arena.


He finishes the contest with 29 points, a personal-best in his time with the Chippewas while pulling down six rebounds. He shoots 5-of-10 from beyond the arc and 9-of-16 overall. 

The Chippewas stake their claim for the label of top dog in the MAC with a wire-to-wire 92-82 victory over the Falcons, improving their record to 13-8 overall and 6-2 in the MAC. The 92 points scored by Central Michigan are the most Bowling Green has allowed all season. 

Morgan strides into the post-game press conference with a smile, the tension from the competitiveness of the game gone. He plays with such intensity, such anger, that he needs no fuel to get through a 40-minute game other than the heart beating inside his chest. 

"He's got more confidence than any player I've ever coached," Davis said. "We've got a pretty big green light on him until the end of the game when we want to run a little clock. He's got confidence but our players have confidence in him."

Though he can be streaky, up and down and all of the above, Dallas Morgan plays every game with relentless intensity. There are expletives, mean-mugs, flexes and a remarkably smooth jump shot that can drop from seemingly any location in the arena. 

He's clad in maroon and gold but resembles a certain superhero made famous by his impeccable strength and green skin — Opponents don't like him when he's angry. 

But that's when he's at his best. 

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