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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Keegan

Marcus Morris old reliable again

Kansas forward Marcus Morris goes for a rebound over Nebraska defenders Brandon Richardson, Christian Standhardinger and Lance Jeter in the first half, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris goes for a rebound over Nebraska defenders Brandon Richardson, Christian Standhardinger and Lance Jeter in the first half, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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KU-Nebraska

Reader poll

Who played best in the second half of KU's 75-64 victory over Nebraska?

  • Cole Aldrich 19% 338 votes
  • Sherron Collins 13% 243 votes
  • Marcus Morris 58% 1038 votes
  • Markieff Morris 6% 122 votes
  • Other 1% 31 votes

1772 total votes.

Reader poll

Which KU big man off the bench played better in the first half?

  • Thomas Robinson 28% 6 votes
  • Jeff Withey 66% 14 votes
  • Undecided 4% 1 vote

21 total votes.

The only consistent thing about most young men living the college life is that they behave inconsistently.

And then there is Marcus Morris, Kansas University’s sophomore power forward from Philadelphia. He’s as predictable as gray skies in Cleveland, an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” having a few cringe moments, turning on your television and seeing a Geico commercial featuring Art Carney’s son, Brian, falling backward onto a green, talking gecko. It never stops playing, yet never gets old.

College basketball players tend toward inconsistency because they are so thoroughly scouted, so young and sometimes so immature. None of that seems to apply to Morris.

The Big 12 portion of the schedule arrived, and the shorter twin became the steadiest player on the team again ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Eight games into conference play, Morris has played eight strong games. He’s averaging 17.8 points and 8.5 rebounds against Big 12 competition. His most amazing stat: five offensive boards a game.

The sweat hadn’t dried from his 20-point, 11-rebound effort in Saturday’s 75-64 victory against Nebraska and already he was thinking about the next game.

“Everybody knows Texas is tough,” Morris said. “It’s going to be a dogfight. No kids can play in this game. It’s going to be a man’s game. Every loose ball, people are going to be flying after it, jumping everywhere.”

He was tired from playing 34 minutes, and he was looking forward to “jumping everywhere,” after loose balls.

Clearly, Morris brings consistent effort and has matured so much in one year, but there is more to it than that. His versatility lends itself to consistent performance. He’s the perfect sidekick to Cole Aldrich because when Aldrich gets doubled and fires a pass his way, he never drops it. Nobody on the team has better hands. His tireless work on the offensive boards gives him another way to score.

He handles the ball well and shoots well, which makes him a threat on the perimeter as well. But it’s in the mid-range that he does his most impressive work. His turnaround jumper, executed with such precision it gives him the space to get off shots without hurrying, is deadly. He has moves and counter moves that create space for shots, and his touch is soft, even though he misses too many bunnies.

He has so many ways to score that there is no one type of defender best suited to guard him, no one area to try to take away from him.

Defensively, coach Bill Self loves having him on the floor because he moves his feet so well he can switch onto any player and stay in front of him.

Rare is the Final Four team that doesn’t have at least three terrific players. A year ago, Kansas had Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich and a pack of inconsistent young talents. It never felt like a team bound for the Final Four.

Morris gives KU a third terrific player, and this feels like a team with a strong shot at making it to Indianapolis.

First, Austin.

“This is a big game,” Marcus said. “We never look past any opponents, but this is one we’ve wanted.”

Comments

Steve Brown 9 years, 9 months ago

Your hard work in off season is paying dividends now, thank you.

RCJHKU

honk dem horns.

funkitect 9 years, 9 months ago

marcus morris' play this year makes me appreciate having andrea hudy and d. mann on staff so much more, (as if i didn't already). every top prospect big man coming out of high school should be falling all over themselves trying to commit to KU!

PAHAWK1 9 years, 9 months ago

It is time to isolate Twins improvement from Hudy. We have to recognize the determination and extra hardwork put in by Marcus and Keif over the summer. Hudy did her job. She has been hired to help student athletes.

There were other players on the team but we see a lot of improvement in Twins play and attitude. It is possible that they always had the potential but we (fans) and media did not see it (because we were busy criticizing them). Their numbers for the freshman year were not shabby. Our expectations were too high.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 9 months ago

"even though he misses too many bunnies", which is amazingly correlated to the 5 OR/game.

The work over the summer obviously made a significant impact in the toughness/strength of the twins. I seem to recall hearing about a whole bunch of maturing that took place mid-season, after Marcus was benched, when he sat down with tape and noticed that he could be playing more consistently intense. He is obviously talented - Coach Self has told us about his potential from the very beginning. It is his maturing enough to work hard thru the summer, and then maturing again thru the season to work hard throughout all the minutes of all the games that has really paid off.

Well started Marcus. Finish strong.

slowplay 9 years, 9 months ago

If the draft were held today, Marcus would go before Henry. If you want to talk about potential, Morris is head and shoulders above X. He's a perfect 3 spot for the NBA who could also play the 4 and guard anyone in the post. If he stays 1 more year, He's a top 5 next year.

WilburNether 9 years, 9 months ago

Interesting that at this point in the season, no one with any sense would even remotely consider the so-called "one-and-done" guy to be the "third terrific player."

okiedave 9 years, 9 months ago

An example why we should re-consider before being too harsh on Freshmen. Last year, many of the bloggers were bemoaning that recruiting the Morris Twins may have been a mistake. Marcus and Markieff are going to stay together. Next year they will be national sensations and receive more respect from the refs.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 9 months ago

I hope Xavier looks at the twins quantum leap improvement, sees the hard work they put in guided by outstanding coaching and weight training and realize he needs to do the exact same thing and come back ready to roll next year......no matter what Carl says.

slowplay 9 years, 9 months ago

"the Hawks will shock some people by strutting out of Texas with a W!".. I think it would be more of shock if KU did NOT come out of Texas with a W! This game is winnable. Texas needs to make a statement because of their recent woes, but this away game will not compare to the hostility of K-State.

melrank 9 years, 9 months ago

At the end of last year, I thought Marcus and Markieff were pretty much on the same level. Clearly, Marcus has pulled ahead this year.

I wonder why. Is Marcus more talented and it's just starting to show? Did Marcus work harder last summer? Does 'Kief not have the right attitude? Is there a similar leap of improvement waiting inside Markief? I wonder what Momma Morris would say about this question.

Alec White 9 years, 9 months ago

melrank, I think Marcus has a little more talent for whatever reason. I do see both of them being in the League eventually though. I see Marcus as a perfect small forward for a team with a dominant center, a situation comparable to Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard would be optimal for Marcus. I envision Kief being a backup PF but still have a long and productive career. Markieff rebounds slightly better then his brother and plays great D while blocking a lot of shots for being only 6'9. I don't know why teams aren't salivating over Marcus...I think his ceiling is higher than Cole's. He moves exceptionally well for his size, rebounds well, is a consistent shooter from 15 feet, and has a dominating mid-range game--in essence the prototype of an ultra-efficient player.

kuflick 9 years, 9 months ago

I think everyone would agree that Xavier has gone a little by the wayside when conference play started. I definitely think that he should stay one more year and put in the time this off-season with Hudy, if he does and Markieff puts in a little more work it will pay dividends next year. If Aldrich chooses to go pro this year-which I don't think he should-we will be more of a threat next year. Improved Xavier, improved Markieff, Marcus, Morningstar, and Reed, would be nice. Rock Chalk

Mike Kendall 9 years, 9 months ago

Slowplay---

I am thinking like you, too! No way Texas will have the atmosphere like the "Octagon!" KU will amp it up!!!

Hawktacular 9 years, 9 months ago

mikendal-

I am thinking "Octagon" was put to rest last weekend. ;)

Free throws. I don't like what I'm seeing from the line the last two games at all.

Mike Kendall 9 years, 9 months ago

Hawktacular--- Hey, all you have to do is to tell me not to use the "Octagon!"

It is a stupid name for a building---sorry, my bad---Bramledge. KU has to hit free throws--that's a given or it will be a loss.

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