Morningstar different player in ‘09

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Some Kansas University basketball fans questioned Bill Self’s judgment in offering former Free State High guard Brady Morningstar a scholarship back in September of 2005.

“Here is a guy when we recruited him, a lot of people said, ‘Can he help you guys?’’’ Self said. “Now it’s a matter of ‘where would we be without him?’ He’s been very valuable to us.”

The 6-foot-3 Morningstar, who red-shirted last season, has proven one does not have to score a lot of points (6.9 ppg) to earn major minutes (28.8).

What soph Morningstar — who chose KU over Tennessee, West Virginia, Northern Illinois and others his prep school year in New Hampshire — provides for (14-4, 3-0) KU is ...

Sticky defense

He held Texas A&M’s Josh Carter to seven points off 2-of-6 shooting (1-of-4 threes) in Monday’s 73-53 rout of the Aggies. He’s also crowded Temple’s Dionte Christmas, (21 points, 6-of-14 shooting), Arizona’s Chase Budinger (five points, 1-of-9 shooting) and others all season.

“Brady is light on his feet. He understands angles,” Self said. “Coming in (to the season) I didn’t know if he could guard bigger guys. I’m not saying he is Brandon (Rush) defensively yet, but he has nice balance. He plays smart, can front the post. He’s one of our better blockout guys.”

Of his own defense, Morningstar said: “I drill in my head, ‘In order to help my team, I can’t let my man score.’ Whoever I’m guarding, whether it’s their best player or leading scorer, I’ve got to hold him to less good shots and we’ll have a better chance of winning.’”

Good ballhandling and decision making

Morningstar has had zero turnovers in four of KU’s last five games with 13 assists, four turnovers in that span.

“The ball doesn’t stick in his hands. He is a good ball mover, good post feeder,” Self said.

Of his decision making, Morningstar said: “I know it’s not good to turn the ball over. I’m a little older (turns 23 on Friday). I see the game more in slow motion than a freshman would maybe. I try to not make crazy plays and be efficient when I have the ball.”

Three-point accuracy

Morningstar has made 26 of 57 threes for 45.6 percent.

“Brady, to me, showed flashes of being an unbelievable scorer playing on the scout team last year,” Self said of practice. “He’d get on rolls being the other team’s best player and light it up.”

Of his shooting, Morningstar said: “It’s just repetition. I always think the next one is going in.”

Self believes Morningstar has room for improvement.

“I can see Brady growing an inch, filling out,” Self said, noting Brady’s dad, former KU player, Roger, had a late growth spurt and wound up 6-foot-6, 200 pounds. “Brady weighs 170. He’ll get to where he is 180, 185. He has good bounce. He can run. The big thing for him is he needs to continue to get stronger. As far as an efficiency standpoint, he is having a heck of a year.”