Morgan Lof overcame a chronic disease to become a key player for the up-tempo Huskies
Six years ago, Detroit Lakes High School 2009 graduate Morgan Lof had a cloudy future playing basketball after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
Lof missed much of her junior season for the Laker girls' basketball team, as she battled the chronic disease, which is caused by the inflammation of the joint lining and leads to pain and stiffness in the affected areas.
But she persevered through the infliction her senior season and helped the Lakers to the Class 3A state tournament.
It was the second time Lof played in the state playoffs, the first being when she was a freshman where she had the opportunity to play with her older sister, Corey, who had a solid basketball career at the University of North Dakota.
It was also the first time she caught the eye of St. Cloud State University head women's coach Lori Fish.
"I liked her game in the state tournament her freshman year, because when she got the ball, she could go coast to coast and run the floor well," Fish said.
Lof's style of play fit in perfectly with Fish's philosophy at SCSU and three years later, the two united as the Laker committed to play for the Husky women's basketball team, which was the head coach's first recruiting class.
By then, Lof had her arthritis under control with medication.
"I had some great doctors and they got me on the right medicine," Lof said. "It's been in remission now for the last two years. But I told Coach Fish right away about it and it didn't become a problem."
Lof still dealt with a few flare ups her freshman season at SCSU, but not enough to keep her off the court.
After adjusting her medication, the autoimmune disease went into remission, thus enabling Lof to show what she could do playing 100-percent healthy.
And for the Huskies, that was a very fortunate thing.
Lof's minutes went up on a yearly basis, as she transitioned to the speed of the Division II game and the size of the competition she had to go up against.
In Fish's system, Lof plays one of the post position at only 6-0. The Huskies employ an up-and-down running attack, which needs its posts to run the floor well.
For Lof, that was right up her alley after playing under DL head coach Mike Hoganson's up-tempo style throughout her Laker career.
"I never played the true post position in high school, but coming in, I fit into what Fish likes to do because that's what I did under Hoganson's system since fifth grade," Lof said of the fast-paced style of play. "But I had to learn to be more physical inside, because I am undersized every night."
In her first season with the Huskies, Lof played in 15 games and averaged 1.3 points and 1.4 rebounds per game.
She continued to improve over the offseason and increased her playing time to 26 games her sophomore season, along with 11 starts.
By the time her junior season rolled around, she once again played in all 26 games and started to establish herself as an effective post player who could run the floor well, while being a strong defender.
"Morgan improved in all areas of her game and learned how to play solid defense," Fish said.
Offensively, Lof has been encouraged to shoot more, instead of passing up the ball to her teammates - something she does a little too often.
Lof is a regular starter her senior season and is averaging 23.1 minutes per game, while notching 3.6 points and rebounds per game.
"I actually want Morgan to be a little more selfish with the ball," Fish said. "She really puts the team first, maybe even a little too much, but we would like to see her shoot more."
Lof's teammates also encourage her to take it to the hoop more, but her ingrained team-first loyalty has stopped her from doing just that.
"I'd rather make the good pass and I think my role is to be a solid defender," said Lof, who is regularly put on to defend the opposing team's best post player. "My goal every night is to limit my opponent to less than their scoring average, I want to make them earn their points."
She has done just that on an SCSU team which is having one of its better seasons in Fish's five-year tenure.
The Huskies are 15-7 on the season and 10-7 in the NSIC.
It's Lof's recruiting class which was looked upon to be strong by their senior season and thus far, that's been the case.
"We've had a tremendous season and many of our losses have been very close," Fish said. "We just need to take care of the little things now."
Lof has also showed she is one of those perfect role players, who is willing to do those little things for the team which is key to a successful season.
"It's been fun and I feel I fit in well here on a team which has great chemistry," said Lof, who is a psychology major and rooms with the Huskies' leading scorer Jessica Benson (14.7 ppg). "I'm extremely fortunate to be playing on a great team, there's nothing I can complain about."
The Huskies will close out the regular season at Crookston Friday and at Bemidji Saturday, before starting the NSIC Tournament Feb. 27.