Aquinas College Director of Athletics Nick Davidson announced on Tuesday (June 11) that Brian Morris has been chosen to lead the Aquinas women’s basketball program. Morris becomes the fifth head women’s basketball coach in AQ history.
This is Morris’ first head coaching position at the college level. An assistant coach for the Saints since the 2016-17 season, Morris completed his third year on the AQ bench this past season. He will take over the Saints program for Linda Nash, who is the winningest coach in program history with 378 wins during her 23 seasons at Aquinas.
“I am pleased to announce Brian Morris as the next head women’s basketball coach at Aquinas,” said Davidson. “Throughout the hiring process, Brian did a tremendous job of outlining his vision for the program and how he plans to lead Aquinas in the coming years. He has a terrific defensive basketball mindset and we’re excited to see him grow as he takes over as head coach.”
Morris was Aquinas’ interim head coach over the final 21 games of the 2018-19 season, guiding the Saints to a 17-4 record over that span and a runner-up finish in both the WHAC regular season standings and the WHAC Tournament. Aquinas also advanced to the NAIA National Tournament and finished the year with a 25-9 record and as the #21 ranked team in the country.
It was AQ’s first trip to the NAIA postseason since the 2009-10 campaign and the program’s first appearance in the WHAC Tournament championship game since the 2007-08 season; that was also the last year in which Aquinas recorded 25 victories. The Saints finished seventh in the NAIA in scoring defense in 2018-19, giving up just 56.5 points per game, and 19th in the country in defensive field goal percentage.
“This has been an exciting journey, but this journey would not be possible if I didn’t have the support from some key people,” Morris explained. “I would like to first thank Nick Davidson and Claudette Charney for the opportunity that they have given me to lead the Saints here at Aquinas. I want to thank the hiring committee for believing in me and putting faith in my plan and goals, and last but certainly not least, I would like to thank coach Linda Nash. She gave me an opportunity of a lifetime that doesn’t come easy for most. She showed a tremendous amount of trust in me and allowed me to be the coach I believed I was meant to be. So thank you to all the people that have been on this journey with me; without you I wouldn’t be able to lead this wonderful program. I am extremely excited to begin this new chapter and I can’t wait to get started. It’s a great day to be a Saint!”
During Morris’ three years on the Saints bench, AQ has put together a 60-35 overall record, including a 40-22 mark in WHAC contests. Aquinas has received a dozen conference awards over the past three seasons, including four All-WHAC First Team selections and three more players named to the Second Team. Morris has coached a pair of WHAC Defensive Player of the Year award winners (2018-19: Carley Andrews, 2017-18: Momo Neal) and an NABC Third Team All-American (Michaela Faber in 2018-19).
In his first two years as an assistant coach and the so-called defensive coordinator at Aquinas, the Saints’ defense took center stage. The 2016-17 Aquinas team led the country in defensive three-point field goal percentage, ranked second overall in the NAIA in defensive field goal percentage, third in defensive rebounds per game, and 11th in scoring defense. AQ was also 11th in the NAIA in 2017-18 in scoring defense and 19th in defensive field goal percentage.
Aquinas has increased its win total in all three seasons of Morris’ time with the Saints, improving from 17 wins in 2016-17 to 18 victories in 2017-18 to 25 wins in 2018-19. The 25 victories last season are just two wins shy of the school record of 27 triumphs in 1984-85.
“I want to wish new head coach Brian Morris success in continuing our strong women’s basketball tradition,” said Nash. “I worked with coach Morris for four years and I have the utmost respect for him. He will do a great job as head coach of the program.”
Prior to his career at Aquinas, Morris spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Davenport, helping the Panthers to a 128-11 record, a national championship runner-up finish, four WHAC regular season titles, and four conference tournament championships. Morris also led the Davenport junior varsity team for two seasons.
He also served as the girls’ varsity basketball coach at Union High School from 2008-12 and the girls’ varsity softball coach at Creston from 2005-10. Morris also spent 2003-05 as a coach for Grand Rapids Public Schools in the roles of middle school head coach, junior varsity head coach, and varsity assistant coach.
In the 42 years of Saints women’s basketball, Nash (23 seasons) and Patti Tibaldi (17 years, 340 wins) have manned the sidelines for a combined 40 seasons and more than 700 victories. Wanda Wamsley (1977-78) and Mary Takas (1990-91) served one year apiece as AQ’s head women’s basketball coach, with Morris now becoming the fifth head coach in program history.
A graduate of Cornerstone, Morris is originally from Grand Rapids, where he attended and graduated from Wyoming Lee High School.