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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Twin transformation

Morris brothers add weight, confidence for soph seasons

Marcus Morris, front, and Markieff Morris attribute recent gains in muscle mass to hitting the weight room hard in the offseason. Marcus has put on 23 pounds, while Markieff has added 34 pounds since the end of last season.

Marcus Morris, front, and Markieff Morris attribute recent gains in muscle mass to hitting the weight room hard in the offseason. Marcus has put on 23 pounds, while Markieff has added 34 pounds since the end of last season.

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Marcus and Markieff, by the numbers

Min FG% FT% RPG APG PPG

Marcus Morris 18.5 .495 .604 4.7 1.1 7.4

Markieff Morris 15.6 .448 .650 4.4 1.0 4.6

• Statistics from their freshman seasons in 2008-2009

Beaten down physically and drained emotionally after a marathon freshman basketball season, Kansas University’s Morris twins staggered into strength coach Andrea Hudy’s office last March.

“We both told Hudy, ‘We will listen to anything you say. Just help us out to get stronger and bigger,’’’ Marcus Morris said, recalling his and brother Markieff’s plea for help.

The Philadelphia natives were shells of their former selves after an exhausting rookie campaign — one that saw Marcus shrink from 6-foot-8, 225 pounds to 213 pounds and 6-foot-9 Markieff shrivel from 230 pounds to 210.

“I didn’t feel I helped the team as much as I could by being underweight,” said Markieff Morris. He said he “was in a state of depression during Boot Camp” (two-week conditioning program in September/October) and after that, “didn’t take care of my body right.”

Hudy — whose job is to help build strong bodies — took their emotional request to heart.

“I told them to trust what the program has planned for them, from individual workouts, to the training room, to the weight room, to academics,” Hudy said. “That they did shows a sign of maturity on their part.”

Buying into a six-day-a-week weightlifting and conditioning program has meant a rebuilt Twin Towers.

“They have completely changed how they look and how they play,” Hudy said of Marcus, who has gained 23 pounds since last March and now weighs 236 and Markieff, who has put on 34 pounds and now tips the scales at 244.

“They just worked hard. They knew they had to,” Hudy added.

With the memory of KU’s 67-62 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 loss to Michigan State fresh in their minds, the two proved quickly they were serious about reinventing themselves for their sophomore seasons.

“We took a week off to get our bodies back. Ever since then, we’ve been in the weight room six days a week. We even go on Saturdays,” Markieff Morris said.

That says a lot because the weight room is the last place the twins wanted to be last year.

“I hated it. Hated it,” Marcus said of pumping iron.

“I didn’t like lifting at all. I felt a lot of stuff we were doing was meaningless,” Markieff noted, “because that’s the mindset I had as a freshman. As the season went on and I lost all that weight, I realized it’s a big deal. A big part of me playing college basketball is being stronger and bigger.”

The Morrises — who worked out three to four times a day in the summer — emerged as “two of our most consistent guys,” Hudy said.

And two of the Jayhawks’ most accomplished weight movers.

Markieff has parallel squatted 415 pounds and Marcus 405 — the two best marks on the entire team. Marcus bench presses 285 pounds; Markieff 275. Both hang-clean 245 pounds.

“Both have the same strengths — lower body strength and power output. They are athletic. I think people will see how athletic they are,” Hudy said, noting Marcus has a 31-inch vertical jump to Markieff’s 30 inches.

Both lifting — and eating — have helped the twins pack on the pounds. Their mom, Angel Morris, who lives in Lawrence, has put her kitchen to good use.

“She knows we need to be heavier. She’s cooking steady meals like spaghetti and chicken — foods that will stick on us,” Marcus said.

Markieff noted that in addition to mom’s “Shrimp Alfredo and fried chicken,” he also eats “Subway a lot and peanut butter and jelly a whole lot too. It’s very good.”

With the weight gain has come an increase in something equally important — confidence.

The twins admit they were head-cases much of last season.

“It’s always tough on freshmen who don’t know what to expect going to college,” Markieff Morris said. “Some freshmen think college is going to be like high school, which I did. I was in for a rude awakening.”

Marcus said he was the worst of the pair.

“Coach (Bill) Self told me a couple times I wasn’t coachable and I need to listen more,” Marcus Morris said. “I think I need to do that more and be a better teammate and leader. I think I’ve kind of got the game down. Once I go hard, everything else comes.”

Those who see the twins every day insist their games have improved dramatically.

“I’d say they are 75 percent better than last year — how they look, attitude, everything,” senior point guard Sherron Collins said.

“I’m very impressed (with) their body definition, the way they work on the court, especially pick-up (games). Last year, as coach Self said, they weren’t rebounding above the rim. Now they are dunking and trying to finish everything above the rim. It’s a big improvement,” Collins added.

Of Marcus, who averaged 7.4 points (off 49.5 percent shooting; six of 15 threes) and 4.7 rebounds a game, Collins said: “He’s hitting step-back threes and everything.”

Of Markieff, who contributed 4.6 points (off 44.8 percent shooting; three of 16 threes), Collins noted: “He’s improved his post moves and rebounding the ball. He shoots the three as well.”

Do they drop through the net?

“Here and there,” Collins said of the taller Markieff’s long-distance attempts.

Marcus seems to have perfected a strong dribble drive move that results in layups.

“Last year I was playing the four (power forward). That wasn’t my primary position,” Marcus said. “I didn’t feel too comfortable playing the four. During the summer I’ve been getting stronger. I feel the players kind of look up to me and follow my lead. I’ve gotten a lot of confidence from that, so I’m putting the ball on the floor more from the wing.

“I’m going with the guards twice a week and the bigs once,” added Marcus, who Self has said will play more at the three (small forward) as his career advances.

Markieff has benefited from putting up 500 shots a day every day in the gym with his sibling.

“My goal is to bring intensity. I want to be an energy guy for this team,” Markieff said. “I want to shoot a better percentage from the three-point line. Last year I felt they (opposing players) were leaving me open a lot not expecting me to shoot them. I won’t be labeled as a shooter this year. I want to let them know I can shoot the ball.

“I want to do whatever coach asks me to do, to play more minutes, be in the type of shape where I can play all day.”

Playing time is not guaranteed this season. The Jayhawks are loaded at every position.

“It’s ‘Competition City.’ You can’t say any more about it,” said Marcus, who logged 18.5 minutes per game to Markieff’s 15.6. “Individual practices are competitive. Pick-up is very competitive. I know practice will be very competitive because everybody wants to play.

“I’ve never seen a team with this much talent. Last year playing 5-on-5 (pick-up) sometimes we’d keep the same teams and just keep going. This year we have three legitimate teams where anybody can lose at any time. You can actually sit out and watch if you don’t win. Nobody wants to sit out and watch.”

Noted Markieff: “Every position we have a talented player and somebody talented to back them up. Nobody wants to sit behind anybody. It’ll be tough.”

Self has acknowledged there will be fierce competition for all positions with the twins right in the mix.

“You stop and think about how far those two have come,” Self said. “They are two of the hardest workers we have. They are getting stronger, better. There was a time last season all of us wondered if they could dunk. They never did. They have unbelievable futures and are fun to coach.”

And apparently fun to be around.

Markieff has quietly impressed his teammates by taking freshman big man Thomas Robinson under his wing, giving him some pointers at individual workouts.

Marcus has been leading by simply working so darn hard.

“Hudy doesn’t have to tell them to come in. They do it on their own,” Collins said. “They’re doing everything they can to help us play longer than we did last year. We all think we could have gone farther than we did. They are hungry. We’re all hungry.”

Comments

Pinkels_Visor 5 years ago

Yes!!! The Morris desire was seriously lacking last year. It's good to see they are growing up, maturing. This is going to be a really good year...

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Billy Derringer 5 years ago

I hope that marcus doesn't think that he is going to get more time at the 3 this year, with X and LITTLE and even MORNINGSTAR ahead of him at the 3, i dont see where the minutes are going to come from at that position for him, HCBS knows that he is a nice miss match some nights with him playing the 4 so i wouldn't hold my breath marcus on seeing more time at the 3.

and on another point on a scale of 1--5 one being low and 5 being likely, what are the odds of TRAVIS RELAFORD red shirting this year, IMO im thinking that he is around a 4 what are your thoughts...rock chalk championship

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Michael Auchard 5 years ago

This article just excited me more than any of the former pre-season articles I've read. This seems legitimate. I always thought last year that if the Morris twins could average 20 & 12 combined we'd have an amazing season. Looks like we may get even more than that from them this year. These guys and a healthy Mario Little were the missing pieces last year. The suspense is killing me.

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waywardJay 5 years ago

HELL-O Experience...... HELL-O Morrises....

This is exactly what we want, need, and desperately seek from these two.... This makes HUGE DIVIDENDS already/....

5...definetly 5.. if he's not red-shirting he's transfering.....

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Joel Hood 5 years ago

derringer - I've posted several times that I feel Releford will redshirt. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Marcus play the 3 at times this year and this will only take time away from Travis. The combinations of players we should see this year will simply be mind blowing.

What a terrific story on the twins. It's great to hear how they have truly bought into the system after their freshman awakening. Lew... if you are reading this, never let Coach Hudy leave the nest.

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Hinrichisgod 5 years ago

Great to hear about Marcus and Markieff. Props to Hudy and Co. October can't get here soon enough. Rock Chalk.

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waywardJay 5 years ago

Sorry i couldn't resist.....

Sherron - They are hungry. We’re all hungry.

which joke is better

Especially you sherrron, especially you.

Except withey. Not hungry at all that kid.

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gardenjay 5 years ago

Be careful eating at Subway a lot....lol, omg, jcam, etc

Also, you KU basketball fans may be interested to know that we posters on the KU football articles are working on a revised memorial stadium design to make you more comfortable in the foreign environment. It will be a kind of half hemi-dome open to the hill). This effort meets Mangino's request for more hostile support, since you-all are basically the Roman Legion of hostile support for KU sports....

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FairgroveJayhawk 5 years ago

It's great to see these guys make such a commitment that has received kudos from Hudy, Self and the rest of the team. It would be interesting to know their body fat compositions at the end of the season last year and now. That would tell the true story of how deconditioned they allowed themselves to get and to what degree they have rebounded and put on muscle. I can't wait to see them play.

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jbrownjib 5 years ago

Speaking as an endurance athlete, weight training will give them greater endurance because it creates more slow twitch fibers. It improved Lance Armstrong's performance on the bike, and Michael Phelps strength pushing off the wall in the pool. Last year neither brother could finish at the rim where the strength matters the most. I hope to see them improve at rebounding and put-backs. The ball never fell for them last year. I look forward to watching them play this year and I hope that their hard work in the weight room pays off.

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Kevin Long 5 years ago

Gardenjay- I know what you are saying, and I am with you, but most KU fans are basketball first. That's just the way it is and nothing will ever change that. I will be there Sat. screaming my lungs out with ya though bro!

This article does get the blood pumping! We will have to see how they actually do in a game, but it's great to see that they knew they needed to improve and did. I think those two may be the keys to KU being in the hunt for another title. If they can even slightly improve I like our chances.

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jhawk23 5 years ago

This is the best article on KUSports that I've seen in the last few months.

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ParisHawk 5 years ago

Let's remember that Perkins brought Hudy with him from Uconn. Excellent article; we are so lucky to have Bedore as bball beat writer. Now how about an in-depth on Cole's summer in the weight room?

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doolindalton 5 years ago

Asking Sherron Collins to comment on body definition is like asking John McCain about the best way to run a presidential campaign. Neither have any idea.

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chicagoeddie 5 years ago

ahhh i didnt kno lew brought hudy with him.... that guys a genius! =D

so excited for this year!!!!!!!!

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jayhawkintexas 5 years ago

Looks like the twins added some weight and some tattoos.

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rockchalkjayhawk4ku11 5 years ago

I can't even begin to explain how excited I am for this year. Anyone think the Morris twins went through a Darnell Jackson story? Darnell came in shaky, and ended his career with a National Championship. Still my favorite KU player, always played with heart.

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studio 5 years ago

Thanks to KU recruiting and coaching for discovering, deep inside the hearts of young men, the soul of champions with the potential to be immortal twin pillars of not only the Jayhawk MBB Legend but of NCAA Div 1 Mens Basketball Championship history. Thank you, Markief and Marcus, for your commitment to this great opportunity. Just remember to look past your destined SI cover story and keep your eye on the prize. Pay attention freshmen and recruits!

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jhawkr 5 years ago

A lot of great posts .......... The football guy was a little wacked out though.

You guys are right. There have been a lot of lame articles this summer, but this one was great !

I am greatly impressed that the TWINS have decided to take steps to mature their bodies and their minds. I was one of their greatest critics last year. They played like thugs, lazy with an attitude and you could just tell when one was going to go down and pick up a foul. Way too much playground ball in those boys last year. I am looking forward to this season to see if this all plays out.

To me they saw the big picture or had it painted out for them as the recruits signed on and everyone started talking about playing time. Self has his work cut out for him this year with all the bodies and talent abound. Redshirts will and should occur. I wouldn't be surprised to see Tyrel Reed redshirt. In my opinion no one but Sherron and Cole will sustain enough minutes to warrant going pro unless Tyshawn is as improved as has been discussed.

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Martin Rosenblum 5 years ago

The "step back threes" are nice to develop for the pick-up games. With the talent that we have at positions that should be drainig threes, I hope Coach Self doesn't give either of these two the green light behind the line.

Working above the rim, as Sherron noted, is where these two should have been last season and may have more success this year at their natural positions. I think we'll be focused above the rim this year more than in a long time. Put-backs, tip-ins, etc will be so dominate, we'll rule the conference as well as being recognized highly across the country.

Maybe Mrs. Morris could invite Jeff and Cole over for some dinners. They could both use a lot of her home-cooking! The boosters should kick in for her grocery bill. Hell, I'd like to be invited and I sure don't need to put on any lbs.!

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GabrielMichael 5 years ago

Keep up the good work fellas! You inspire me and I'm proud of you both!

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jaybate 5 years ago

Sunday Schmorgasbord:

} “I’m going with the guards twice a week and the bigs once,” added Marcus, who Self has said will play more at the three (small forward) as his career advances.

This is what I have been hoping for ever since last season...Marcus at the three!!!! A 6'8" 235 pound three with a wing dribble drive and a 40%+ trifectation. If he can learn to lock down on the wing, then Marcus Morris is a Top 15 pick end of this year. We are talking a potential overall Number One in the NBA draft end of his junior year, were he to stay. Go Marcus, Go!!!

} Self developing Marcus at the three is something I have been advocating for quite awhile, so of course I am delighted by it. Self developing Marcus at the three also means he is thowing Marcus a bone to help him tolerate Xavier coming in and taking the position. Self is telling Marcus, the three is yours, if you can beat him practice, and, see, Marcus, I am grooming you for the three the following year.

} Self developing Marcus at the three means Self is very serious about going big and staying big against opponents with the size Michigan State had last year, maybe even against everyone, since it worked so well for Ratso Izzo.

} Self developing Marcus at the three means Self is already preparing for the crowding at the four at mid season when Withey becomes eligible. It means Xavier may start at the three, if he can handle the strength issues of D1 (and has no big holes in his game either), but it means KU can get bigger and stronger and more accurate from three than Xavier, when Marcus substitutes for Xavier. It means Xavier is going to have to face Marcus twice a week in practice. Xavier has almost certainly never had to play against anyone two inches taller and 10-15 pounds heavier, and significantly stronger than him mano-a-mano at the three all season long and that means Xavier is about to find out what real competition is. Some thrive on playing against bigger, stronger guys and finding ways to beat them, but some don't. Some can only win, when they have full advantage. Facing the occassional bigger, stronger NBA player in grab-a$$ games that don't count is nothing in comparison to fighting a hungry guy like Marcus Morris for PT in face-offs day after day in practice for an entire season.

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jaybate 5 years ago

Sunday Schmorgasbord: continued...

} Self developing Marcus at three also means Self expects Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson to play significant minutes at the 4. It implies Mario Little is going to be at the three and Brady is going to be playing more two than three, which is where he should be. It means Tyshawn and Brady are going to be running a tag team match in which the goal is to apply the utmost defensive pressure every second of the game.

} Self developing Marcus at three means KU could annihilate any zone thrown against them with Collins, Morningstar and Marcus outside. It means if Xavier can pot the triceratop more the way he did as a senior than as a junior in high school, KU will probably see no zone at all. It means another piece in the puzzle of potentially the greatest college basketball ever assembled may have fallen into place. Bring me Syracuse. Bring me Jim Boeheim's zone-loving head on a crimson and blue pike!

} Kieff seems set to become a wonderful KU big when Cole leaves, and he'll show more than some of it this year. But to really blossom, Self probably has to shift to a high post game and let Kieff's top of the key trey become a parametric weapon, rather than just an occasional variable. Clearly, Sherron is not yet convinced that Kieff's three point shooting time has come...but it will, just probably not this season, but the next.

} Nick Krug is just a freaking artist. Any competant photog can compose, if he works at it. Last year it was Krug's consistent ability to compose in the moment and to communicate message (or perhaps the feeling of a message) that caught my eye. Ican't look at the photo above of the Morris' Twins without thinking "Strength and Confidence." Too many pics of athletes just communicate "handsome," or " 'tude," or "Ah'm cool," or "good natured." This was a story about weights transforming two players' games. The picture communicates it better than the story, actually. Captions to Nick Krug pictures are just near redundancies confirming what we already see. The greatest test of a photographer is can his pictures communicate an intended message without captions, and Krug's easily could. But here is the best news: Krug did not sit on his hands. He apparently worked on color and lighting over the summer. He is noticeably improved in this regard and it is only the beginning of the season. Who knows? Maybe Nick Krug disappeared for awhile to work with Andrea Hudy to develop the upper and lower body strength that a photog requires to get into and hold an angle! Rock Chalk Nick!!!

} How about a photo spread, or I guess the proper term today is "gallery" of Andrea Hudy sometime? She's got to have a lot of facets. Yo, Andrea, you got facets. We like facets. Its fun to get to know the other coaches through still photos. Why not you, too?

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mikehawk 5 years ago

It isn't just about physical growth and development, it is also about mental and emotional development to go with it. This is what I am drawn to in this article If you really think about it, those two played very well last year for true freshmen. It is isn't the talent that will keep them out of the league, it is the intangibles like attitude, committment, willingness to work, and with humility hanging on every word from our marvelous coaching staff.

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AverageCitizen 5 years ago

Hey, guys, can't you smile every once in while for pictures or is the LJWorld posing you like that? Fans like to see that you are having fun, too. You don't have to look tough except on the basketball court! Kudos to you for taking advantage of Andrea and working hard. It's not just the basketball fans that will enjoy the benefit of your efforts. When you win a NC you'll be ecstatic you listened to your coaches. I can't wait for basketball to begin!

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gardenjay 5 years ago

jhawkr -

As a football fan, I would say being focused on an indoor game when the weather is still decent is pretty lame. But as a basketball fan, these do seem like good fan posts. KU basically has another NBA team ready to crush most of the opposition. Go KU!

My point was, with such passion for an indoor game while the weather is still decent, why not go to a football game? You could pretend it's a basketball game with our new memorial stadium design, yet still meet some interesting people over a grill and a beer. I am not saying give up basketball, just to become a more well-rounded KU sports fan - besides the football coach, who is becoming less well-rounded, has been making an appeal for more hostile home-town fans, so I thought to post this on the basketball thread.

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Tony Bandle 5 years ago

You heard it here first..well, maybe the most recently , but.....

don't anyone be surprised if the starting lineup for the Hawks this season is the same lineup as last year......Cole, Sherron, Marcus, Brady and Tyshawn. Sherron and Condor are obvious but the other three have been working their a$$es off.

I think all the new guys are going to be surprised at just how intense playing for HCBS as a Jayhawk is and will probably take a bit to crack the starting line up. Still, what a bench!!!!! X, CJ, Mario, Elijah, Mr. Robinson, Markieff, Jeff [in December], Tyrell, Travis[next year I bet}

New guys remember..no "PT" unless you got "D"!!!!!

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Dirk Medema 5 years ago

Every position is starting to remind me of the bigs from '07-'08. Remember the comments from Cole and all about all the banging in practice. We've got that and more at every position this year. Different fans will have different fav's, but my guess is there will be plenty of Cole vs Hans-boy moments throughout the season this year. The mix and match options for Coach Self are amazing.

And in the meantime, we've got 2.5 months of football!!!

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Dirk Medema 5 years ago

And Sherron has every reason in the world to comment on conditioning. There are well documneted times when he has gotten flabby, but that has almost always been injury induced. Even this summer, Coach told him to shut it down to let his body recover after the season. Maybe he went a bit more extreme than Coach had envisioned, but I seem to recall Sherron commenting on learning from it. Everytime Sherron has seen his weight ballon for whatever reason, he has hit the weightroom with a venegance and been in great -leader - shape in no time.

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kushaw 5 years ago

Jaybate: I agree with you about the "Potential" of Marcus. You know, I think there was a lot of speculation about Cole Aldrich coming into last season and I think Aldrich surprised almost every fan of Jayhawk nation. Aldrich exceeded all expectations and became "Dominant" in less than 9 months. All I have to say is "Wow"! I don't think Marcus can have quite the same impact Aldrich did for KU, but I think we're all going to be almost on the same "Surprise Level" we were with Aldrich. Here me out on this, I think Marcus Morris has a great chance at turning into a clone of Carmelo Anthony. Marcus isn't there yet, but I think he has a great chance. If KU can post Marcus up on the "Half Blcok" (Anywhere between the 3 point line and the block about 9-16 feet extended) and make him turn and face (A lot like Brackens of of Iowa State), Marcus is going to have all sorts of possibilities. Melo was really mature in his game as a freshman and just lit up Keith Langford with the turn and face post moves. I do think Melo was and is a great shooter, so we will have to see how Marcus' game involves in the shooting department. He showed some signs of this last year, but was just raw and inexperienced as the article states.

Another thing that I'm looking foward to in his game is wheter or not he can or will be able to put the ball on the floor. For big guys like Morris, all you reall need is two or 3 dribbles at most, but it will be intersting to see how his ball handling will take shape. Very exciting article about the Morris'. I am ready for Markieff to be the Garbage man of the year. You have to have those guys on your team to do the dirty work and I expect nasty things out of old Markieff.

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Aligned 5 years ago

Congratulations brothers Morris on your dedication to the improvement of yourselves and the team. Keep that good attitude and work ethic and you just might be starting for the best team in the country.

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dmc8142 5 years ago

Wow! This has to be one of my favorite articles in recent memory. I hope everyone realizes how big of a deal this is if it is, in fact true. Having the Morris' being studs down low and on the wings makes us soooooo much harder to beat it's not even funny. Good work men and as well to the rest of the team. Keep it up everyone!

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emillasap 5 years ago

Jaybate,

Not to call you out, but you lambasted me earlier in the year for posting that Marcus would be a legit option at the three by this season. I'm not sayin' I'm just sayin'. Someone with your projected level of erudition surely understand the concept of hindsight bias.

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kualltheway0893 5 years ago

wow this year's team is loaded. can't wait for basketball season. Rock chalk championship 09-10!

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4jhawks4ku 5 years ago

WHEW!!! One badass team this year. Mean and tough.... No smiles Just Kick A with an attitude. Plenty of time to smile listening to One Shining Moment.

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CasperCorps 5 years ago

This is going to be awesome.. Three legit teams of anyone beating anyone.. I volunteer to sit the bench if we can win another championship..

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keith horinek 4 years, 12 months ago

MM at the 3? I never would have thought. With all the talent coming in at that position I would have thought keeping MM at the 4 and occasionlly the 5 would be better. I'm not sure he will be quick enough at the 3. However, If he plays at the 3 position, that means we have enough talent to use people out of position. Which means we are going to be VERY DEEP AND VERY GOOD! I'm getting goose bumps!

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Joel Hood 4 years, 12 months ago

Admittedly, I caught several of the “Rocky” movies on Spike TV on Saturday. But, is it my imagination, or do I keep hearing “Gonna Fly Now” every time I re-read this article about the Morris twins getting strong now? They are from Philly – right? I can just hear Coach Hudy, “You’re gonna eat lightning and crap thunder!” (or, something like that…)

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Joe Baker 4 years, 12 months ago

great article- not overly biased or inflated, just a great story about two guys trying to improve themselves with good old fashioned hard work...is it too much to ask for more articles like this? Keep up the great work all!

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Brett Forreal 4 years, 12 months ago

These guys are going to turn out huge for KU. Mark my words. Didn't look that way last season, maybe a huge bust. Can't wait for this season to come! Wow, it is going to be AWESOME!

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pitthawker 4 years, 12 months ago

Now they are dunking and trying to finish everything above the rim. It’s a big improvement,” Collins added.

WOO HOO!!!

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jaybate 4 years, 12 months ago

emillasap,

I am trying to recall what you claim, but cannot. Perhaps it happened, but often as not when I encounter these situations I find persons kind of get creative about what they think I mean, rather than sticking to the words typed by me on the screen.

Still, while I have always hoped he could become a three, I have gone back and forth on my thinking about whether he could in fact do it. Maybe that vascillation lead us into a conflict.

Regardless, I assure you that I have hoped since Marcus got here that he would get to play the three eventually. A 6'8" three with a 40% trifecation rate would be just an awesome weapon.

I do think Marcus made himself (with much effort) into a credible garbage man 4 last season and never got the credit he deserved for doing so.

I think Xavier is very likely to start at three very shortly, simply because Self is so high on him and everyone else who has seen him play extols his goodness.

Brady has been a two forced to play out of position at the three, where you really need the size of a Brandon, an Xavier, or a Marcus in today's game in order to be a match up advantage night in and night out on both offense and defense.

I doubted Marcus could make the shift to the three this year, because a) Xavier decided to come; b) Brady already proved he could play it and Mario Little is a big talent there too; and c) Marcus did not appear to be able to reliably dribble drive from a wing last season, even though he had the trifecta percentage to be out on the wing.

If I lambasted you simply for thinking Marcus could play some three this season, accept my apology.

If you misread me, then your apology is accepted also.

Whatever, we agree that it would be a great weapon for this team to have a Marcus Morris able to be an accomplished three. He would present an unfair advantage almost every game.

And if Self is playing him on the wing two days a week, well, then I am always willing to think Self has a high score at being right in such gambits, and so expect it very likely that Marcus has the skills necessary to become what both you and I wish him to be.

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NebraskaJayhawk 4 years, 12 months ago

"Bring me Syracuse. Bring me Jim Boeheim's zone-loving head on a crimson and blue pike!"

lol Jaybate...great one!

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NebraskaJayhawk 4 years, 12 months ago

For the record, I posted a couple of weeks ago that Marcus would be at the three this year. I still think Xavier will be here for a sophmore season....

This team has so much potential it isn't even funny. I wish we played Kentucky during the regular season, just so we for sure get a chance to send Calapari home with greasy hands.

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jaybate 4 years, 12 months ago

drgnslayr,

If I were Xavier, I might very soon grow to dread having to bang against Marcus several days a week. Marcus is no slouch and he's been through the wars once already. D1 is so very different than high school. Going from playing daily against guys you are consistently 2-4 inches taller and vastly more athletic than, to being 2 inches shorter, and only slightly superior athletically to the guy you scrimmage against? Whew! This is going to taken a lot of the baby fat and ego out of both these guys in a hurry. Marcus, so you think you can play three, eh? Meet Xavier. Xavier, so you think you are a one and done. Meet Xavier.

Bottom line, if Marcus and Xavier don't get discouraged, it is likely going to make them both very, very rich one day.

Nothing like playing against guys that can challenge you to improve daily.

And think about opposing team's defenders at the three!

Xavier Henry comin' at ya...

Slide slide, slide... Bang, bump, slide, slide, slide, slide... Block, push, slide, slide, slide...

Whistle after 5 minutes of trying not to let Xavier get out of control...

Okay, Morris substitutes for Xavier.

Repeat...5 minutes...

Whistle...

Little substitutes for Morris...

Repeat...

Whistle...

Substitute Xavier...

Repeat...

Horn!

Half time...

Horn!

Second half...

Opposing defender: Oh, man, not another 20 minutes of this $%^&!

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waywardJay 4 years, 12 months ago

nothign like throwing 3 completely different looks two of which being larger athletes at a tradition smallish position, and the other is a kid who's already skilled enough to make most college players disappear oon the defensive end.

I agree with you... Marcus and Xavier might be beating the daylights out of each other in practice, but it's going to pay huge dividends whn they play in conference.

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Joel Hood 4 years, 12 months ago

I think we as fans often fall into the trap of assigning positions to individuals, when in reality, individuals are just players. Coach always prefers the combo-guard mentality that does not define a player’s limitations. He always talks about “bigs” or posts – you never hear him talk about the power forward or center. The only player on this team I can pigeonhole into a classic role is Cole – he is the definition of center.

The potential lineups this year are just outrageous. Who knows, we may see a lineup of Sherron, Tyshawn, Brady, Mario, & Xavier – giddy up!! Or, how about this: Sherron, Xavier, Macus, Markieff, & Cole for the Ivan Drago – I must break you – lineup.

For me, playing the “who starts where” game for KU this season is all fun, but really an exercise that just doesn’t matter. It will change and the combinations will be so numerous that assigning position numbers to players will seem a bit silly come January.

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jaybate 4 years, 12 months ago

jayhawkerjoel,

Combo guards is an okay term for describing guards who can play either the one or the two, and who, in a pinch, can play the three when an opponent's talent dictates going with three guards for bursts.

But the fact is, Self likes big threes, when he can get'em.

Self likes a glue man/stopper at the three. None of the combo guards, except Brady, has been asked to play that spot, and Brady likely will not be tasked with it again, if Self can avoid it. And Self likes the best glue man/stopper he can find, not just some lesser talent. Brandon Rush is and will likely remain the definitive 3 in the Self era. But Langford, Mario Little and now Xavier and Marcus indicate what Self is really looking for.

Combo guards play the one and two positions, not the three, except when talent levels (like last year) require it.

The whole idea of combo guards is kind of suspect in my opinion.

Collins is clearly a PG. Frankly, he makes a lousy combo guard and Self has tried him in that capacity a number of times, in order to get him shaken loose on the wings for some treys.

Tyshawn and Brady and Elijah and CJ and Tyrel are combo guards; that is guys that can comfortably play the one, or two spots. But move them to the three and they are just a band aid solution that you have to spend an entire season trying to compensate for. And I say this being a huge fan of Brady Morningstar and the job he did last year.

Xavier, Mario Little, and Marcus Morris are vastly more conventional and useful at the three. To substitute combo guards at the three position is really a stretch for the "combo" guard.

KU got away with some interludes of comboing with Collins, Mario Chalmers, and RR, because of the bigs they had to cover their gambling and because of how phenomenally good Chalmers and RR were on defense.

But much of the time, Brandon Rush was out there at the three holding things together and there were two combo guards at most on the floor, and they were playing at the one and two.

If it makes people feel good to talk about combo guards, fine. But what we tend to see, when Self can find the talent, is a good solid, and traditional three, playing at the three.

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jasonsgill 4 years, 12 months ago

This team is so deep that it almost necessitates the balkanization of the standard Self positioning; rather than a 3 guard 2 big coalition, the depth of this team is capable of fielding 3 platoons of 3-5 players each, allowing the potential of the lineup to be fulfilled.

In addition to the standard 2 guard, swing, 2 big line, Self could choose to go with a 1 guard, 2 swing, 2 big, or even a 2 guard, 2 swing, 1 Cole lineup. It will be interesting to see what Self does with his bounty.

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KANSTUCKY 4 years, 12 months ago

I'm anxious to see (first hand) how CJ and Xavier play against Memphis in St. Louis Nov. 17th. Hopefully, the twins are a bigger presence than they were last time I saw them (first hand) in Indy.

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Joel Hood 4 years, 12 months ago

jaybate,

Don’t get too caught up in my use of the term combo-guard. My point is that coach refers to guards, wings, and bigs. This year, the potential for mixing and matching is unlike any prior year for KU. Coach will be looking for the 5 best guys to play at any given time and his options will be incredible.

For example, many posters seem to think if X is on the floor, then Mario will be on the bench. Why? Coach has never been afraid to try different combinations and God only knows what formula he might cook up with all this talent. Geniuses are typically original thinkers and the best lineup he draws from this talent pool may surprise us all.

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justanotherfan 4 years, 12 months ago

Self definitely has options, but ultimately, he has always settled on an 8 or 9 man rotation. I don't see him straying from that, especially if he can find a 9 man rotation out of this talent that gives him a chance to win another title.

He always has a good lead guard. He has that again this year with Sherron.

His combo guard/wing position is his most flexible spot. This year, he has 6-2 E. Johnson, 6-3 guys in Morningstar, CJ, and Taylor, 6-4 guys in Reed and Releford, 6-5 Mario Little, and 6-6 Xavier Henry to man those two spots. Legitimately, he can only play 4 of those guys any substantial time. Pick your four. I think all of them are legitimate D-1 talents. My guess is Taylor, X Henry, Little and whomever emerges as the best ballhandler between EJ, CJ, Reed and Morningstar.

I say best ball handler emerges from that group because ideally Self will want to be able to rest Sherron for stretches this year, and that is something that was not afforded him last year. Whichever one of those four that can give him a chance to rest Sherron without hamstringing the offense will get the most minutes.

As for inside, we have already seen that Self wants a four man rotation inside. This helps keep everyone rested, sharp and out of foul trouble. Cole is one of those guys. The Morris twins figure to be in the mix. Thomas Robinson is the type of rebounder that Self will love. And Jeff Withey has lots of talent. That's five names for 4 slots by the time conference season rolls around.

This is where sliding Marcus to the 3 comes in. Self may already believe that his best nine players include Cole, Withey, Robinson, and the Morris twins. If that's the case, to get real minutes for the 5 aforementioned guys, someone has to move to the perimeter. If Marcus handles the three well, Self could very well field an NBA sized lineup next season - 5-11 Sherron at the point, 6-6 X. Henry at the 2, 6-8 Marcus Morris at the 3, 6-10 Markieff at the PF and 6-11 Cole at C. That is a pro sized, pro style and (potentially) pro skill lineup.

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Tony Bandle 4 years, 12 months ago

I have it on good authority that HCBS is going to maximize his talent pool and go with line shifts ala the NHL. Each line will wear a coordinated colored head band to make sure order is maintained.....

RED BAND TEAM: Sherron, Cole, Marcus, Tyshawn and X - Code Name, The Red Tide WHITE HEADBAND TEAM: EJ, CJ, Brady, Mario, Jeff - Code Name, The Perfect Storm BLUE HEADBAND TEAM: Tyrell, Markieff, Mr. Robinson, Travis and pick one. - Code Name, The Blue Balls.

Also, all players will shave their heads and don hairpieces, grow beards and wear glasses that match their coach, showing team loyalty and commitment to the Self Way.

During non-game days, they will be united and offered to the public as 'Lew's Crew", available for catering parties, conventions, wedddings, bar mitzvahs, etc. for an outrageous fee of course..only kidding, Lew!!

KU will initiate a new policy similar to baseball whereby game-used equipment will be resold as "Authentics", thus every stoppage in play will bring out a new ball. The new twist will be that this will also include jerseys, tennis shoes, jock straps, towels, used paper cups and tape. The commercial opportunities are endless.

About the only thing that could improve this team was if Clair Bee's hero, Chip Hilton, came to the team as a walk-on bringing flashing good looks, outstanding athletic skills and really shiny teeth.

NCAA Division One...you have been weighed....you have been measured....and you have been found wanting.

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jaybate 4 years, 12 months ago

OakvilleJHawk,

Good stuff as usual. I do believe Conner has the Chip Hilton thing covered. :-)

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jaybate 4 years, 12 months ago

jaf,

I've been wondering about Xavier at the deuce, too, because that is almost certainly Xavier's pro position and a year of D1 playing the deuce is his best prep for an OAD pro track. But I've never heard anyone say he can dribble like a guard and bring it up the floor against pressure.

After the wondering, he still seems a three.

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jaybate 4 years, 12 months ago

P.S. to Oakville...

Question: Are we two the only ones old enough to remember Chip Hilton?

Answer: Probably yes. :-(

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jaybate 4 years, 12 months ago

P.P.S. to Oakville...

Wouldn't it be great if Coach Self found a writer to work with and began publishing a new series of contemporary basketball fiction stories? He could have the proceeds go to one of his not-for-profits. I loved those old sports books by Bee, and a few others, when I was 7-10 years old. And they could be spun into Nintendo and DVDs and if successful, Hollywood would pick them up for movies, or Coach Self could work with some local feature film makers in Lawrence, or with Jayhawks in Hollywood, who could do a bang up job and keep it all local and on the up and up.

Skies the limit here!

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Tony Bandle 4 years, 12 months ago

I think you and I are it, my friend as far as Chip Hilton goes. I actually have the complete collection in original hardback as well as the newer paperback versions that Coach Bee's daughter published several years ago.

The possibilities are endless in comparing this years team to Chip's pals. Chip Hilton, Soapy Smith, Speed Morris, Biggie Cohen, Taps Browning, Jimmy Lu Chung, Red Schwartz, Coach Hank " Rock" Rockwell, etc.....someday I will do that just for us "Oldtimers"!!!!!

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Ed Brown 4 years, 12 months ago

Awesome story once more MR Bedore! Just from the comments it appears he, too, has been working out all summer getting ready for yet another great season for us rabid hoops fans. Now for the icing on the cake, my youngest is starting in Chem Engineering and hopefully representing our family well at the games...as a 3rd gen Hawk. What a year ahead for our family, too. The last championship on my birthday and now my baby boy in person.

Signed,

True Bleeding Blue Jayhawk...born and bred in Kansas with roots to 1914!! ROCK CHALK!

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jaybate 4 years, 12 months ago

Uptown,

Welcome to Kansas, rube. One side of my family came to Bloody Kansas for the Civil War. The others were late arrivals...didn't show til the 1880s. Took a few generations of burning out way out west, driving 9 hungry kids and the covered wagon back to Osage County, and horse trading and farming leased land to scrape enough money together to get one of us to KU in the Dirty 30s, though, so if you're family is class of '14, you've got us beat on that count. But we like to talk about how long we have been paying taxes to KU to establish our bonafides!! Always nice to meet new Kansans with recent word of the outside world! We heard there was a big war started across the pond back in 1914 across. Ever hear how that one turned out? Did America ever get drawed into it? :-)

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kvskubball 4 years, 12 months ago

I am excited about the coming sports seasons (Wow, what an original comment - NOT, chuckle! ;-)

I gladly admit that my favorite sport is basketball, and so as I prepare to cheer for the KU football team and wish them the very best, in my brain, the thoughts of sugar-plums dancing, are images of spherical objects tickling twine. stretching towards the seemingly ever-distant, barely glimmering light that is the basketball season to come. My mind's eye can't seem to help but race ahead to what shapes up as an extra-special basketball season.

Last year, when Cole went to the bench, our inside game ground to a halt. The new big guys were either hobbled (Little) or semi-clueless max newbies (twins). This year, the twins won't have hay in their hair. Little will hopefully be healthy, and for the second semester Withey will come on-line. If a body is needed (Like Cole during his freshman year) Robinson will very ably fill for the Bill.

Last year, when Collins went to the bench, the whole offense often ground to a halt, or at least everyone often seemed to lack a desire to be the one to take a shot. Tyshawn should have loads of confidence coming back from down under, with a gold medal, and as the leading scorer for the US. I don't think X will be a shrinking violet. Bodies galore, so if someone doesn't bring his best, someone else will fill for Bill.

Most of the players who will play the majority of minutes will have gone to war with each other for most of a whole season. The comfort level should be several notches above where it was last year. As movie-generals are always keen to say 'confidence is high!'

Last year, playing time was there for the taking, PT was a black-hole just waiting to be filled up, with any new body. This year, everyone except for Sherron and Cole will be fighting for playing time (By last count that is 12 very-able bodies fighting for 3 spots, and loose change). Coach will be able to create just about any kind of game plan he wants and be confident that he has the 'talented' bodies to pull it off.

Besides the normal bug-a-boos, the only two things that I think will need heavy lifting are: * Defense; we had Brady and Cole as the only ready-for-NCAA-primetime and CoachBS gold-standard-level defenders last year (although our defense often looked better than it was - when Cole was rejecting death and taxes, and everything else, did someone say Dayton?). Hopefully everyone else will step up and join them on the gold-standard this year. ** Better passing; last year's team was only an average passing team, and was terrible at getting the ball to the post at the right time and place. Hopefully the timing can be improved, so that it doesn't seem like the guards are just killing time with the ball.

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kvskubball 4 years, 12 months ago

and....

I am definitely ready for a full-course serving of basketball - KU style. KU should be a 5-star, all-you-can-eat smorgasboard of fine basketball 'activity' (A favorite word used to describe basketball, by Coach McLendon as well as the Doc who gave birth to the game).

Hope everybody is Rockin' the Chalk. Warm up, and work-out your vocal chords at football games, get our young offensive line going so that our offense can score more. Then everyone can bring it for basketball. This year KU should be on 'very good ground' to have a football and basketball season!

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