The Holland College Hurricanes men's basketball team is quite a bit different from when Matt Morrison left in 2012.
The Hurricanes five-foot-11 point guard was relied on to provide scoring in his third of three consecutive seasons with the Hurricanes.
Coming back to the team in 2015, the squad was deep, talented and the three-time defending Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) champs.
"This year, coming in, it was a little different because we have so much talent," said Morrison, 24. "I was alright to take a back seat and let some of the other guys do a lot of the scoring. I'm really just here to win."
The Hurricanes did just that this season, capping it off earlier this month with another conference championship. Today, Morrison and his teammates play their first game at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championship in Fort McMurray, Alta.
Morrison left Holland College to go to Dalhousie University in 2012. He made the varsity basketball team, but tore his meniscus and had a partialanterior cruciate ligament(ACL) tear in October, sat out a month and had microfracture surgery at the end of the year.
He was on crutches for two months and had to rehab before stepping back on the court. He played in men's leagues in Halifax and Charlottetown before rejoining the Hurricanes in September 2015.
"I knew it was a serious surgery, but not like a career-ending surgery," Morrison said. "I knew lots of guys who had ACL surgeries before who bounced back. I am not really someone who relies on a whole lot of athleticism and jumping. I knew if I still had my skills and my head that I would be alright."
He's been everything the Hurricanes had hoped.
In 23 games, he's averaged 7.9 points, hit 45 per cent of his field-goal attempts, 2.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists.
"If there was a statistic for smart plays, he has made the most," coach Josh Whitty said. "He's a leader on the floor, he's vocal and he has a great basketball IQ."
The scoring ability he showed in his earlier Hurricane days is still there, as was on display during times this season when he was called to step up.
"He had a massive game over at Mount Allison for us where nothing was falling except for his shots," Whitty said.
Morrison's return to the college wasn't by design.
He left Holland College with diplomas in sport and leisure management as well as business administration before earning his kinesiology degree at Dalhousie. He had to wait for the fall 2015 convocation ceremony at Dalhousie and decided to use his fifth year of eligibility to play for the Hurricanes and take the human resource management. He has applied to take physiotherapy at a few universities in the fall.
"I didn't have a long-term plan to come back to Holland College, it just kind of worked out that way," Morrison explained.
"If I was going to come back I wanted to make it worth my while and at least get to the nationals. Hopefully, when we get there we can do some damage up there as well."
The Hurricanes open play against Nomades de Montmorency, from Laval, Que., at 3 p.m. Atlantic. The Hurricanes beat them by 30 in the pre-season, but Whitty and his staff know games in September mean nothing now.
Holland College finished second at the 2013 nationals and fifth the past two seasons. No players remain on the Hurricanes roster from the 2013 run.
Morrison is the lone Islander on the squad, which includes four guys from Halifax, two from Toronto, two from the Bahamas and one from Rothesay, N.B.
"It's nice to be able to represent Charlottetown and P.E.I.," Morrison said. "There are some people in the community that are happy for me that I'm getting to go to nationals. It's nice to have a P.E.I. connection."
What - The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) men's basketball championship.
When - Thursday to Saturday.
Where - Fort McMurray, Alta.
Thursday's first-round matchups with teams' seeds in parentheses. All times are Atlantic:
3 p.m. - Holland College Hurricanes (3) vs. Nomades de Montmorency (6).
5 p.m. - Humber Hawks (2) vs. Camosun Chargers (7).
9 p.m. - Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Ooks (4) vs. Mohawks Mountaineers (5).
11 p.m. - Vancouver Island University Mariners (1) vs. Keyano Huskies (8).
Quote – "When you turn over pretty well your whole roster you wonder how things are going to go, but we hit the ground running," Hurricanes head coach Josh Whitty said. "We played probably our best basketball of the season (at the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association championship), so hopefully we carry that into this weekend."
Award winners – The CCAA announced its award winners Wednesday for both the men's and women's basketball leagues. Holland College's Josh Whitty was named the men's coach of the year. He joins Jonathan Vos as Hurricanes who have won CCAA coach of the year honours. Vos won in 2013 and 2015. All-Canadian honours went to Trevone Grant on the men's side and Jenea Barrett and Jazlin Barker on the women's side.