The Eagles may have only had two games in the last five weeks but they were games where American forward Mike Morsell firmly announced his arrival on the BBL scene with two great performances.
First off, he racked up 30 points albeit in a losing cause in the BBL Cup quarter final down in Worcester and then followed that up with a tidy 24-point return in the win at Plymouth. Both were great efforts with the former landing Morsell with a place in that week’s BBL All-Star team.
This was his second All-Star appearance with the first coming way back in the opening weekend of the season after a 28-point performance in the Eagles win at Glasgow in September. A lot has happened to Mighty Mike since then and he took time to reflect on his time in Newcastle so far.
“Everything’s coming together right now and I’m playing really well and hitting my shots. I really have to credit my team mates. My team mates find me and are always looking for me and that and I’m just really thankful for them.”
Morsell is a very amenable guy and popular around the team and the club. He seems to have settled well into life in Newcastle as he explains.
“I love Newcastle. There are so many places to eat around here. I love Eldon Square and The Mall with its shops. I love life and have no complaints about Newcastle. Having no language barrier is a real bonus too.”
“In Finland last year that was a problem because it was hard for people to understand you. Here it’s so much easier and I can’t begin to explain how much easier it is.”
It was about this time last season that Mike picked up a season ending injury in Finland so it’s perhaps a good time for him to compare the leagues having spent the same amount of time in them.
“I would say that The BBL is much more physical. I would say there’s a couple of games where I’ve been really beat up. I mean not literally beat up but they were really physical games. I think that’s the biggest difference in the two leagues I’ve noticed, the physicality of The BBL.”
With Christmas coming around it can be a tough time to be a professional basketball player in another country so far from home. This will be Mike’s first Christmas away from home.
“This is what I’d call my first Christmas away from home. I mean in college there was once or twice I didn’t go home but I was still in the States and not far away so I’d say this is really my first Christmas away from home.”
“You just have to accept it as a professional. I knew that coming in. When I signed here, they told me that we’d have games around the Christmas time so I kind of knew that coming in so you’ve just got to accept that.”
The Eagles play Sheffield at home two days after Christmas on Friday 27th December and then make another trip to Glasgow two days later for The BBL Championship fixture.
“It’s going to be busy and it’s going to be tough. But I haven’t really thought about it as we’ve been concentrating on the Manchester game. We always take it one game at a time but we owe Sheffield one and we also know Glasgow have signed new players so they’re going to be tough I guess.”
“I haven’t made any real plans for Christmas as yet. Been too busy practising! I might go out to a restaurant or something but man it’s cold up here and freezing outside so I might just find myself staying in in the warm and just relaxing.”
Morsell again reflected on his time so far in Newcastle and had a special message for all the people and fans he’s met so far.
“Everyone at the Club is really nice, real friendly. It’s a great place to come in every day for practice and hang with the guys and everyone gets on really well. We all speak to each other and not just the players, I mean everyone is so friendly which makes life easier.”
“The supporters are great. It was crazy seeing some people at Plymouth going all that way. I said to the guys we’ve got to win this one for them driving all the way down here to watch us.”
“It’s a great atmosphere on the road but even for the home games people are always into the games and loud so it’s great. I love signing the kid’s stuff after the game and getting photos with them, it means a lot to me.”
So, was Mike surprised how much the British were into basketball?
“A little bit, I’m not going to lie, it did surprise me a little bit. I mean obviously I knew about the passion for soccer in this city and having that huge stadium just up the road but there’s a real passion for basketball from what I can see and that’s really cool.”
Settled at The Eagles and settled in The Toon. What are mike’s hopes going forward?
“We need to get the game against Manchester and then we have the game against Sheffield and we’ve got to get revenge on them and make it 3 – 0 and then we can go in to the next one and win that to make it four in a row.”
“I’m definitely ready for those games. The focus is to turn up, play and look to get those wins and that’s the plan and so that’s the goal right now. It would be a nice way to finish the year and set us up for the challenges ahead next year so that’s the target and hopes.”
Newcastle seem to have picked a real winner in Mike Morsell whose demeanour on and off the court is one full of energy and positivity as he enjoys being an Eagle and looks forward to great days ahead in The BBL.