Blugold Hall of Fame
Joe Merten
Joe Merten

Mike Morgan, a 6-8 power forward from Ladysmith, and Joe Merten, a 6-7 small forward from Kenosha Tremper, were teammates on Ken Anderson's powerful Blugold squads from 1977 through 1981. Those four teams compiled a 103-23 overall record and a 52-12 conference mark. They won three conference championships and participated in three NAIA National Tournaments in Kansas City, Missouri, twice reaching the semifinals of the 32-team field.

Morgan started 94 games during his career and still ranks as one of the top rebounders and field goal percentage players in school history. He grabbed 1,087 rebounds for his career while scoring 956 points in 125 games and finished with a .571 field goal percentage. On January 3, 1981, Morgan pulled down 17 rebounds against a nationally-ranked University of Iowa team. Although the Blugolds dropped an 86-62 decision to Lute Olson's Hawkeyes, they ripped off a school-record 20 straight victories after that game before suffering a loss in the semifinals of the NAIA tournament. Morgan was named an NAIA Third Team All-American that season and also won the conference rebound title.

Morgan's hard-nosed play earned him three team Big D Awards. He also was the Frosh MVP winner his first season and the Hustler Award winner as a junior. He was the Holiday Classic MVP his senior year.

Following his Blugold career, Morgan played some semi-pro basketball in Australia. He was the Sydney Basketball Conference MVP and top rebounder in 1983.

Morgan has been a physical education instructor and junior high football coach at Auburndale since 1989. Among his protégés is Green Bay Packers' lineman Mark Tauscher. He also serves as the Athletic Club Advisor and spent four seasons coaching the freshmen basketball team. He and his wife Maxine have one son, Max, 14.

Merten started 98 of the 113 games he played for Anderson, scoring 1,193 points with 598 rebounds and 439 assists. He still ranks among the top 20 in career scoring and among the top five in career assists.

Three times, Merten was selected to the All-Conference team and twice to the NAIA All-District team. He was the MVP of the 1981 NAIA District 14 Senior All-Star Game.

Merten played with Kevin McHale, Andrew Toney, Larry Smith and Jeff Ruland among others on the 1979 United States team that won the gold medal at the World University Games in Mexico City. He was drafted in the 10th round by the Utah Jazz in 1981 and played with Utah's California Summer League team before being released. He was invited to the Milwaukee Bucks camp in 1981 and played in all eight exhibition games before being the last player cut. He tried out with the Indiana Pacers and the Bucks during the summer of 1982 but was again released. He played for the Continental Basketball Associations's Alberta Dusters in 1981-82 and earned a spot in the CBA's All-Star game. He began the 1982 season with the Las Vegas Silvers but was traded to the Oshkosh Flyers. The Flyers won a Western Division championship while Merten was playing and he also became the youngest head coach in the CBA when he took over for the 1985-86 season.

Merten was offered the head coaching position again for the 1986-87 season but turned it down and returned to Eau Claire where he joined Menards as a Building Materials Manager. Since 1997, he has been a Commercial Contractor Sales Rep with Menards.

He and his wife Becky had one son Nathan who is deceased.

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