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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Marcus Morris on rise

Freshman wants to be full-game player

Kansas forward Marcus Morris fights for the ball with the Coppin State defense during the first half Friday, Nov. 28, 2008 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris fights for the ball with the Coppin State defense during the first half Friday, Nov. 28, 2008 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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First-half surge dooms Siena to 91-84 setback

Tuesday night, the Kansas men's basketball team built a big lead early and held on late against Siena.

Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self says highly touted freshman forward Marcus Morris “probably had the best stretch since he’s been here” in the early stages of Tuesday’s 91-84 victory over Siena in Allen Fieldhouse.

Morris hit back-to-back jumpers to erase a 9-5 deficit and finished the first half with six points, three rebounds and three assists.

He pinpointed the reason for his productive play.

“I think I’m playing a lot more relaxed than when the season started,” said the 6-foot-8, 225-pound Philadelphia native.

“I think I was more aggressive trying to get to the basket and trying to find the big men down low. Basically, it’s me trying to create. It’s what I wasn’t doing at the beginning of the year. I’m trying to be more aggressive and get my teammates shots.”

He finished with eight points off 4-of-8 shooting with six rebounds (four offensive), a steal and three assists in 17 minutes.

He was a bit more productive the first half than the second.

“Basically, I’ve been a first-half player,” Morris said. “I need to step it up in the second half and not just be a one-half player.”

Morris realizes that, like most freshmen, he has been inconsistent.

He hopes that will change with one game left in the nonconference campaign — Saturday’s noon battle at Michigan State.

“The coaching staff always is encouraging me, telling me what I need to improve on. I need to be aggressive on the boards and find my teammates,” said Morris, who is KU’s fourth-leading scorer (8.4 points per game) and second-leading rebounder (5.8).

“Cole is a great rebounder. No matter what, he goes to the glass hard every game,” Morris added of the 6-11 Aldrich, who leads the team with 9.9 rebounds per contest. “We all have to be like him and rebound the ball.”

Morris, who has made 47 of 99 shots for 47.5 percent, hopes his new, relaxed frame of mind will help him run the court freely and wind up converting some easy hoops in league play.

“Our teams in the past have run a lot, and we (Morris twins) get some easy baskets. As far as in the past, Kansas has always been made for running. The more we get out on the break, the better things I think will happen,” he said.

Morris remains a work in progress.

“I’m excited being a Jayhawk, being in the tradition,” Morris said. “I’ve bonded with everybody on the team. We became family really quick. We all stick together. Rarely will you see anybody by themselves. It’s a great team.”

lPraise of Brady: Self during an 810-AM radio interview Wednesday was asked about the consistent play of sophomore wing Brady Morningstar, who averages 7.7 points, 2.9 assists and 2.7 rebounds a game.

“Kansas won a national championship with a guy named (Jeff) Gueldner. To me, Brady is a lot like Jeff ... makes shots when he’s open, guards the other team’s best perimeter player for most of the time,” Self said.

“Last night, Brady guards their leading scorer (Edwin Ubiles), and with a minute-and-a-half left in the game, (Ubiles) has two points (finishing with eight). You look at the job he did on Budinger (Chase, 1-of-9 shooting, five points in Arizona game) and the job he’s done on some other key players like Christmas (Dionte, 6-of-14 shooting, 21 points in Temple game). I’m real pleased with him.”

Self wasn’t finished praising the 6-3 Morningstar, who is fourth in the Big 12 in three-point field-goal percentage (.460) and second on KU’s team in minutes played (28.0 per game).

“He doesn’t look like Brandon (Rush) did playing that spot and never will because he’s not as tall, his physique is not what Brandon’s is as far as a strength standpoint,” Self said. “From an efficiency standpoint, Brady is having a heck of a year. He’s not our problem defensively. We’ve got to get other guys playing to Brady’s level.”

lNext up: No. 8-ranked Michigan State is off to a 12-2 start entering Saturday’s against KU (noon Central Time, East Lansing, Mich.) The Spartans, a popular choice to make the Final Four, are 3-0 in the Big Ten following Tuesday’s 67-58 home victory over Ohio State.

— Assistant sports editor Gary Bedore can be reached at 832-7186.

Comments

Timmay97 11 years ago

I'm probably the only one, but I'm not as high as most people on Marcus Morris. I think he plays out of control sometimes and his decision making is awful. When you're airballing 6 foot jumpers, it's because you're scared and don't have the confidence. I really thought he would be more like Corey Brewer was to Florida a few years back. He's only a freshman and will probably get better, but currently I'm down on him. And for the love of God.....DUNK THE BALL!!! He goes up like a wus too much. Go up with power and aggressiveness. This is the NCAA's.....not NJ high school.On the flip side, I was totally wrong with Morningstar and Reed. They have grown on me immensely. They are reliable three point threats, as well as decent defenders (especially Morningstar). These two will be huge difference makers for KU. I'm not sure what KU will do with Little, but hopefully he gets healthy and is able to play the way we all "think" he can play.Lastly, I have this feeling that you're going to see Quintrell Thomas transfer. Now that Withey is coming in, I truly don't see Quintrell getting any playing time. Only time will tell. Withey will be our Sasha Kaun off the bench come December of next year.

KUPROUD 11 years ago

Recently I commented that it's time to move beyond the "youth card", and expect these kids to get more consistent. True, but the reality is all of the freshmen still have a lot of development ahead of them. Relative to freshmen big men we've had in the past ten years, I'd put Marcus and Markieff up there with the best at this stage of their development. And let's wait and see how Quintrell develops, and who is still around in two or three years. He may yet become a Darnell Jackson type of player at Kansas.

jayhawker_97 11 years ago

Gary, good job done noticing what our players can do, lad. Marcus earns it, just stay consistent and improve those foot works, you'll be a favorable one. Brady, oh Brady, we're so glad we have a tenacious D weapon, baby!i want to see Travis to climb up his minutes, too. rock chalk!

RyanHawk 11 years ago

Somebody has to go to the NBA (Sherron or Cole), Transfer (Thomas) or give up a scholarship because with Withey coming in we are over a scholarship for next year and still trying to get Wall or Stephenson.Does anyone know if Appleton can transfer or have his scholarship taken somehow because we could really use it?I have been really impressed with Morningstar this year and also believe he is a great role model of where hard work can get you. Also, I couldn't agree more that both the Morris twins need to take the ball up strong and DUNK the F$%^&*G BALL!!!

BigGuyDon 11 years ago

People have short memories. Julian Wright was nearly non-existant at this point in his freshman year and was still whipping silly passes into the third row a year later. He never developed post moves like Morris already had. Granted, Morris will never be the freakish athlete, but he'll be more (positively) impactful to his team his freshman year than Wright was.I also appreciate the emphasis that both put on passing the ball. Remember Darrell Arthur, aka "Black Hole". He always thought the best shot was the one in his hands. I can't count the number of turn-around, fade-away, "DA Signature" shots that basically acted as turnovers. Despite the fact that neither apparently dunks like people would like, at least they are taking it to the hole and getting fouled instead of fading away.As a whole, this team is way ahead of where I thought they'd be. If Little becomes a factor and the kids continue to improve, we still stand a good chance of competing for the conference title and going a ways in the dance. And in my book, any wins in the NCAA tournament are bonus experience as this team looks to the final four in 2010.

jchief40 11 years ago

Timmay97 - I don't think QT will transfer. a) Cole may decide to go pro (although I think he will choose to stay one more year) b) if QT grows as a player he would get more minutes in rotation with others to keep everyone fresh - for QT's junior year he could end up playing plenty of minutes behind Withey or start for all we know with Cole gone c) I would think Appleton would transfer before QT although I don't think we'll lose anybody.On a side note - I REALLY hope we land Wall. Wouldn't that be great to stick in the face of the Memphis fans? Wall (Stephenson?), Withey, Robinson, Johnson - look out!

jchief40 11 years ago

Revised: Timmay97 - I say QT may transfer because a) Although Cole may decide to go pro I think he will choose to stay one more year b) limited scholarships - Morningstar's fam may pay to free up one c) I would think Appleton would transfer before QT thoughOn a side note - i really hope we land Wall. Wouldn't that be great to stick in the face of the Memphis fans? Wall (Stephenson?), Withey, Robinson, Johnson - look out!

jaybate 11 years ago

Marcus: he will make a nonlinear improvement sometime in the next five games. All the mistakes I see have to do with thinking too much, as he must do while he learns all the stuff they are teaching him. He's improving by inches, as the coaches like to say, and those improvements accrue and become obvious at some point. I agree that he's playing a heck of a lot better than Julian and Arthur played at the same stage, so look out. And its missing the point not to look at Marcus and Kieff's numbers as a composite, because they are splitting time, to minimize the fouling problem frosh have and to give Cole some breaks.Quintrel: I wrote about this guy yesterday. He's a prime candidate to be run from his scholie to make room for a superstar, if one were available and if that were the kind of coach Bill Self were. Self doesn't seem to be that sort. So: Quintrel should take the year on the bench as a chance to improve, as Russell Robinson and Brady did. If necessary, he should take two years on the bench, as Darnell Jackson did. People forget that Quintrel started a couple of games early and did okay. He's got the tools, he just doesn't have enough technique to weather being scouted and stopped. Youth Card: this team is going to be young all year, no matter how much experience they get. There is no escaping that playing frosh and sophs, even in this day and age, puts you behind the eight ball of inexperience. Darrell Arthur Flashback: as a freshman, DA cracked under the pressure of being scouted and stopped and asked to be brought in as a sub. 1988 NC Team: Pritchard and Manning down the middle and Gueldner on the wing with Piper and somone else. Cole does not yet seem as good as Manning, but then Manning was a senior when he beasted for an entire tournament. Sherron is better than Pritch. Brady is as good as Gueldner. The Morris' together are already as good as Piper. By the end of the season, they should be better. Stir in Reed and Little, and there's a reason Bill Self is coaching like this team could be something this year, rather than a stepping stone to next year.

joeloveshawks 11 years ago

I love our team this year and we are really exciting to watch and it is great to be able to see our development, but t is a little premature to start comparing individual players to the 1988 National Championship team. For one, Danny Manning was one of the best all around college basketball players of all time and can not be compared with Cole. It would be amazing if Cole ever comes close to being as dominant as Danny Manning.

Adam James 11 years ago

Ralster- I agree with your assessment on the Twins. Other than Cole, who is only good when he is facing the basket and has a free dunk, our low post presence has been extremely weak. If we can get a legimiate low post threat, we are a top 10 team. Take the Syracuse game- Even though we had a real bad stretch with turnovers and poor shooting, our big guys were not able to score and struggled on D vs.Onuaku. This will prove to be the same problem when we play Oklahoma and Texas. We will struggle inside. BUT....If our big guys can continue to grow thoughout the season we will contend for the Big 12 title and I'm optimistic we'll be tough to beat in the NCAA's

Keith Kienzle 11 years ago

Things we need to improve:We ran an end-game play that required Cole to set a screen behind the three point line for Sherron, leaving Teahan to collect the rebound and fumble it away. Cole should have been down there to rebound, and Teahan could have set that screen.If Sherron wants to penetrate he needs to find a way to either get fouled or not attempt easily blockable layups. As nice as it is to get easy layups right under the bucket against inferior teams, if he can't do this, he needs to leave other players to do the driving. Brady often looks lost trying to inbound the ball against tight D or the press. Is he our most reliable inbounder? Isn't that usually the 4? If the 4 isn't an option (due to brain farts), why not Cole? Marcus and Markieff need to dunk and rebound. Nuff said.

kvskubball 11 years ago

Some of you are pretty hard to please. Freshmen and Sophomores are called under-classmen for a reason. They have a lot of growing and learning to do. I agree with Jaybate, they will be young all year. I like Cole a lot at this stage of his career. When he gets the ball he usually finishes. He's better at the FT line than any KU big I can remember. How many centers do you know who can create their own shot? There aren't many that I know. Many seem to think that Cole should be Kareem, Wilt and Danny all rolled into one. Cole is a very good player. Be glad we have someone as talented as him. Does he still have a lot to learn? Sure...but he is developing nicely. As is the team. So why don't we try to be a little more positive, instead of acting like this team is a fast food entree that should be ready in 5 minutes!!!

Tony Bandle 11 years ago

I'm such a dope...it just dawned on me why Henry, Snaer, Cheek, probably Wall and Stephenson will all avoid KU.....look at the 2010 team and all the two-headed monsters:Center - Aldrich/ WitheyForward - Morris/MorrisGuard - Morningstar/ReedForward - Little/RobinsonGuard - Taylor/Johnson..and that's not even taking into account Releford, Thomas, Appleton or TeahanIf you were a one and done, looking for max PT and exposure, does this appear like the ideal situation??? Folks I think what we see is what we're going to get, and it's going to be very, very, very good!!!

jmatthews5 11 years ago

Oakville-- do you seriously think Henry and Wall are avoiding KU because they are afraid they can't beat out Brady Morningstar for playing time? You're right that KU's future is bright but you're talking about the top HS Guards in the country. Please re-think your post.

Tony Bandle 11 years ago

jmatthews5....I think you're half right Henry yesI But on Wall I'll stand firm; the MorningReed monster is a relatively recent devlopment and would present a challenge to Stephenson but Wall's challenge is going to be Taylor/Johnson. Even at 28 or whatever his ranking is, Elijah is totally under-rated. This kid is for real and we can already see Tyshawn's potential. A Number One like Wall wants and needs to be "The Man". As Jaybate states that's just not HCBS's "Okie Ball" motis operandi.I agree to disagree but the bottom line is I don't think KU is getting anybody else..and I'm not sure we need them.

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