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Valparaiso's Caitlin Morrison, right, tied for third on the team with 22 3-pointers, tied for third with 4.2 rebounds per game and was third on the team with 25 steals last season.

Suzanne Tennant, File, The Times

The Valparaiso pedigree that runs through Caitlin Morrison’s veins is almost the reason why the sophomore basketball player didn’t want to join the Crusaders in the first place.

The daughter of former Valparaiso men’s basketball standout Scott Morrison, the Glenbrook South product initially balked at the idea of playing her home games at the Athletics-Recreation Center during her recruitment process.

“Both of my parents went here, and I wanted to go somewhere where I could make my own name,” Morrison said. “They were really excited when I committed here. I love the distance from home, my family can come to all of my games and I’m really close with my little sister. It’s a really great school.”

Scott Morrison played under Homer Drew from 1990-92 where he shined as a rebounder, leading the team with 168 rebounds as a junior. It was Scott who initially reached out to the Valparaiso coaching staff during Caitlin’s recruitment process and it didn’t take long for the coaching staff to fall in love with the 6-foot-2 post player.

“Scott reached out to us and we talked to Homer Drew who had great things to say (about the family),” Valparaiso coach Tracey Dorow said. “She had a really good stat line and then once we saw her play, we wanted her from the get go.”

Morrison started all but four games during her freshman season and showcased her versatility throughout the year. She was tied for third on the team with 22 3-pointers, tied for third with 4.2 rebounds per game and was third on the team with 25 steals. Morrison shot just 31.4 percent from the floor, but it’s a number that Dorow expects will rise this season as the sophomore becomes more comfortable on the offensive side of the court.

“Caitlin knows that she needs to not settle for a shot,” Dorow said. “She can get any shot that she wants on the floor. She can shoot the 3-pointer, but she can also drive by and get to the basket. The key is getting her the highest percentage shot. It’s the same conversation we had with (leading scorer) Dani Franklin after her freshman year.”

Morrison’s evolution from 3-point shooter – more than half her shot attempts were from beyond the ace last season – to all-around scorer may be even more important this year as the Crusaders look to replace the 142 field goals that Amber Lindfors (transferred to St. Louis) and Haylee Thompson (graduated) made inside the arc last season. Throw in the fact that Franklin is dealing with a nagging foot injury that could keep her sidelined for several weeks into the season and Morrison’s role becomes much bigger.

“She has to play well, but she knows that,” Dorow said. “She thrives on that challenge. Our expectations are higher for Caitlin this season and she’s excited for that.”

Morrison has been working in the gym throughout the offseason on adding new tricks into her arsenal to be able from a variety of places on the floor. While increasing her 5.1 points per game average is important, Morrison is also looking to contribute to the team in other ways as well.

“I’ve been working on a pull-up jumper all summer,” Morrison said. “I’ve never really had a mid-range game, it’s always been (a 3-pointer) or going inside. I’m also becoming more vocal and just becoming more comfortable (as a leader). We’re just looking to improve from last season. The fourth quarter of games really got to us and we need to be ready for that.”