For Morrison, moustache battling skills for spotlight

Updated: January 13, 2006, 5:47 PM ET
Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Adam Morrison of Gonzaga (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) may be the leading college basketball scorer in the nation, but he isn't scoring many points with his mustache.

It's a thin, wispy little thing, barely worthy of a player of the year candidate who is averaging 28 points per game.

It runs straight above his lip, then falls down the sides of his mouth, like a 3-point swish dropping through the hoop. It brings to mind Larry Bird, Pete Maravich, or, with a little more seasoning, the star of "My Name Is Earl."

Adam Morrison could be a once-in-a-generation player for the Zags.

It also is the target of endless taunting by opposing fans, jokes from television announcers, and the subject of hundreds of blogs. All the attention mystifies Morrison.

"It's kind of funny that some people make a big deal about it," Morrison said Thursday. "It's funny, I guess."

Only 21 years old, Morrison has said he is cultivating the mustache because he never before has been able to grow facial hair. The mustache somehow adds to Morrison's image as a swaggering, trash-talking court pirate who backs up his mouth with astonishing baskets from everywhere.

And it certainly fits into his maverick persona as a fan of Che Guevara, Karl Marx and Rage Against the Machine.

So at Washington this season, opposing fans yelled "Take a shower!" and "Shave your mustache!" at Morrison, who responded by scoring 43 points in a loss.

At Saint Mary's last Saturday, Gaels' fans showed up wearing stick-on mustaches in an attempt to rattle Morrison.

Last Monday, members of the Santa Clara pep band sported pencil-thin mustaches drawn above their lips.

"I thought it was more of a compliment," Morrison said of the band's actions. "They were trying to look like me, I guess, so thanks."

A giant cardboard mustache could be seen in the crowd at Santa Clara, and signs making fun of the facial hair were in evidence. One sign included a photo of a mustached Bird with the words "Half The 'Stache, Half The Player" directed at Morrison.

He replied by dropping 34 points in Gonzaga's win over Santa Clara.

"Everybody wants to talk trash," Morrison said. "But people don't realize that just fuels the fire. You don't have to say much to me to make me get pissed off."

Everybody wants to talk trash. But people don't realize that just fuels the fire.
Adam Morrison

The mustache first drew national attention at the Maui Invitational, especially after Morrison scored 43 points in a win over Michigan State.

The Standard-Times of Massachusetts wrote that Morrison was "sporting a haircut and mustache that would make even Ron Jeremy cringe."

"The only thing not to like about the Zags is Adam Morrison's mustache," The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., wrote.

"Adam Morrison looked unstoppable against Maryland and Michigan State, but may want to reconsider the mustache," The Los Angeles Times reported.

Not all the comments were negative.

"C'mon, short-haired writers, why all the hate?" Luke Winn, a writer at SI.com, wondered.

Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl raved about the 'stache: "We love Mo's mesmerizingly funky new look."

"With his sweet mustache, floppy hair and socks pulled high, Morrison would have fit right in as a character in 'Napoleon Dynamite,' " wrote Matt Rehm of CBSsportsLine.com.

Gonzaga (12-3, 2-0 West Coast Conference) hosts Pepperdine (5-9, 1-1) on Saturday.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press