Ivy 60 for 60: Bobby Morse

Bobby Morse averaged 16.4 points per game during his three seasons with Penn, in which the Quakers went 78-6. (Penn Athletics)

Following our countdown of the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s men’s basketball history this summer, Ivy Hoops Online is delighted to continue celebrating the 60th anniversary of modern Ivy League basketball by honoring the top 60 players in Ivy hoops history (in no particular order). For the next entry in our Ivy 60 for 60 series, we focus on Bobby Morse, one of the greatest players in Penn basketball history…

Penn’s 6-foot-8 Bobby Morse was known in Philly parlance as “Larry Bird before there was a Larry Bird.”. With floppy blond hair and a classic but deadly rainbow jump shot, he was possibly the original “stretch four,” even though he played before the adoption of the three-point line. Morse was a key member of the 1971 Quakers, the best team in Ivy League history. He teamed with Corky Calhoun, Dave Wohl, and Steve Bilsky to start the season 29-0 and achieve a No. 3 national ranking. In the NCAA Tournament, Penn reached the Elite 8 before losing 90-47 to hometown rival Villanova – a team that they had beaten just a few weeks earlier to win the Big 5 title – and missing an opportunity to play against UCLA in the Final Four. While this loss would haunt the Penn program for “what might have been,” Morse and Calhoun bounced back to lead the ’72 Quakers to another No. 3 national ranking and Sweet 16 appearance. No other team in Ivy League history has come even close to accomplishing what Morse and his teammates accomplished between 1970 and 1972 (possible exception – the ’65-’67 Princeton Tigers featuring Gary Walters, Chris Thomforde, Ed Hummer, Joe Heiser and John Haarlow … with a 1965 assist from Dollar Bill Bradley).

Morse, though, was arguably the most prominent piece of the Penn puzzle at the height of the program’s dominance, the leading scorer for the Quakers from 1969-70 through 1971-72 who also ranked second in rebounds behind Calhoun in ’71 and ’72. Morse scored 24 and 28 points respectively in Penn’s NCAA Tournament wins over Duquesne and South Carolina in 1971.

Morse was also chosen as one of the 50 greatest contributors in Euroleague history in 2008 for his career in Italy. Morse is currently a senior lecturer of modern languages at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, In., where he researches cultural and organizations differences in sports in Italy and the U.S.

On Monday, Morse and the rest of the ’71 Quakers were honored at the annual Big 5 Banquet and Hall of Fame Induction at the Palestra:

 

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