Penn Center Making Most Of Lesson Learned

Posted: February 04, 2000

A look of terror exploded onto Randy Morman's face.

Most of his body was still in a hallway at William Penn High. His right arm was not.

Every basketball player wants some mementos from his senior season in high school. Photos. Clippings. Maybe an all-star plaque or a championship jacket.

Randy Morman has 17 stitches.

Somehow, he also still has two hands.

On Jan. 10, a day before Penn was to play Strawberry Mansion in a crucial Public League game, Morman was talking with a girl between periods when he should have been proceeding to his next class.

Morman was told to move on by a school employee. He did, but he did so slowly and he kept chirping. The man said Morman's bullheaded behavior was going to get him suspended.

Morman knew what that would mean: no action against Mansion.

Pow! He punched a hole through a plate-glass window.

"Blood was all over," Morman said. "I looked down and thought, 'What'd I do? Look at this!' I had those quick doubts about ever being able to play basketball again."

Morman, a 6-5, 215-pound senior center, was talking yesterday after leading Penn past visiting Horace Furness, 103-53, in a PL mismatch. He was also displaying his damage.

The area around the base of Morman's right thumb is still various shades of red and purple. He also has an ugly, raised scar about five inches up his forearm.

"When I got to Hahnemann [University Hospital], I was all shook up," Morman said. "The doctor said, 'If that was real glass, we probably would have had to amputate. There would have been slivers of glass in there everywhere.'

"He said, 'You learned a good lesson. If you need to take out anger, don't do it on a window.' "

In a piece of irony, Morman lives on the "windows." He flashes from side to side in the lane in pursuit of rebounds, especially offensive, and is quick off his feet.

In addition, he can run the floor with the guards.

Because Furness provided scant opposition, Morman departed for good with 3 minutes, 16 seconds left in the third quarter and the score at 63-34. He shot 14-for-23 from the floor and 3-for-4 at the line for 31 points. He also grabbed 12 rebounds.

Twice, Morman made highly impressive plays on fastbreaks, catching the ball in stride and making twisting, all-in-one-motion layups. One was a reverse spinner from behind the backboard.

"The way Randy can rebound, who wouldn't want him?" said coach George Phillips. "He's relentless. He's tough and aggressive and knows where the ball is.

"He's probably going to need some junior college. He had some [academic] struggles earlier, but he had his best report card last marking period. If a coach takes him and guides him and works with him and gets some more weight on him, man, what an inside force they're going to have."

Thanks to weather-related postponements, Morman missed just two league games.

"I learned this: When you're angry, you have to think before you do," he said. "You might think you're being wronged, but you have to go off by yourself and think it over.

"I was lucky. I could have been thrown out of school. When I talked with our vice principal, he said he believed in second chances. He said, growing up, he'd been given a thousand of them. My teachers were behind me. They spoke up for me."

Morman's uncles, Ron and Curtis Morman, were starting running backs for Frankford and Abraham Lincoln, respectively.

"I talked to them about all this. They gave me good advice, as did my father [Rudolph] and mother [Darlene Pittman]," Randy said. "My dad was telling me how I'm an important person at William Penn and how people look up to me, and that by doing something like that I was setting a bad example. My mom was saying, 'You're too old for us to be hollering and screaming at you. It's about time you take responsibility.' She said there are lots of things in life she doesn't like, but she deals with them.

"I'm getting close to manhood. Time to grow up."

Robert Martin and Robert Smith were next best for Penn with 12 points each. Furness' own Robert Smith had eight points while impressive point guard Aaron Miller had 16.

The Lions could have scored 120 points. Second- and third-liners played the whole fourth quarter and Phillips forbade them from fastbreaking. Out of a deliberate offense, Jeffery Jones and Salahudin Muhammad hit two threes apiece. Rome Matthews and Edward Dover hit one each.

Randy Morman? He hit no treys. And hit nothing in anger.

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