Philadelphia High School Basketball
Speedy Morris Wins 300 at Another High School
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Coach William "Speedy" Morris and his happy Hawks after win No. 300 at St. Joseph's Prep. (Pic provided by Bill Avington)
Speedy Morris' first-team
ROMAN CATHOLIC, 1968-81
ST. JOSEPH'S PREP, 2002-15
CATHOLIC LEAGUE TITLES
| Speedy Morris |
On Dec. 30, 2015, with a 49-43 win over Salesianum (DE), in a showcase event at Widener University, William "Speedy" Morris became the first high school basketball coach in Pennsylvania history to claim win No. 300 at a second school, according to state hoops historian Bill Gaffey.
NOT AS SPEEDY
By Ted Silary
In the third quarter, after watching a Hawklet play lazy defense, Morris screeched and used a salty word or two.
"Think he's not into it?" said his son, Keith, an assistant.
When guard John Griffin - his father, John, starred for Morris at Roman Catholic and later coached Saint Joseph's University
- declined to snipe despite being wide open, Morris yelled, "Griff! Shoot the damn ball!"
But all in all, he was calm and calmer.
"Hey, look at the score," he said, smiling. "Wasn't much reason to yell. Except for the third quarter, when we got outhustled,
and I'm still not happy about it, as I just told the kids again, I thought we gave a good effort.
"I wasn't throwing the jacket much the past few years. My wife has been dressing me better [he wore a black suit]. A couple
years ago, I threw my jacket and never got it back. I think people were looking to get one."
A dozen family members watched Morris' return. Also on hand were maybe 35 "Speedies," for lack of a better term - people
who have supported his teams under all circumstances. Even Temple coach John Chaney, who lives in nearby Mount Airy,
turned out to watch a half.
A few minutes after the game, Stan Parker, CHA's athletic director, walked into the Hawklets' locker room and presented
Morris the game ball while welcoming him back to scholastic coaching.
Keith Morris insisted his father is having a fun time.
"He loves coaching high school kids," he said. "At this level, he can have much more of an impact on their lives. You don't
have to worry about the stupid NCAA regulations. He's making this team a family. He has already had kids to the house for
"The only reason he went to college coaching in the first place [with La Salle's women for the '85 season] was to help put his
four kids through college. We all thank him greatly for that."
Speedy said he would have gladly remained at Roman Catholic to this day had he not been fired after the '81 season for
reasons never fully explained.
"I'd be in my 35th season and feeling like Morgan Wootten," he said, smiling, referring to the been-there-forever boss at
DeMatha, in Hyattsville, Md.
The strange part about last night's scene, from Prep's end, anyway, was the total lack of student support.
True, the Hawklets will play tonight for the Catholic Red football championship. True, it was the first game. True, it was on
the road. True, the opponent was not a big-timer.
But no kids at all?
"A lot of our students think we're going to be the same, ol' Prep," manager/scorekeeper Dan Timby said. "But in our
scrimmages, we beat Judge and McDevitt handily. We had a 19-0 quarter against McDevitt.
"He's working us hard. The practices are usually 3 hours. One went for 3 1/2."
Said Morris: "The guys that can do it in 2 hours must be much smarter than I am. Hey, the only defense we have in so far is
Morris shrugged when asked whether he thinks his players consider him a coaching legend or someone who merely happens
to be their new coach.
"I heard that [one player's] response when I got the job was, 'Wow! He's going to coach us?!' " Morris said. "I feel they're
responding to me. Whether that's because I coached for a lot of years in Division I, I don't know. I think they just want
someone they can respond to. Someone who can push them.
"Kids still want discipline; though a lot of them will walk all over you if you let them. The biggest change through the years
has been that you have to be a lot more positive with kids. You can yell, sure, but then you'd better pat them on the back."
Though he used words such as "shocked" and "crushed" when referring to his La Salle firing, and said he still misses being
there, Morris appears to be enjoying his new assignment.
He is still collecting on the last year of his La Salle contract, and he's unemployed except for coaching. Thus, he often arrives
at Prep by 10 a.m. and holds court in an office specially provided for him.
At Roman, Morris went 347-82 with six Catholic League championships. At Penn Charter, he went 41-14 with one Inter-Ac
At Prep, he's a gaudy 1-0.
"I'm enjoying this," Morris said. "And I'm enjoying the kids."
"If we lose a couple, I don't know if they'll be enjoying me."
Look out for flying jackets . . .