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Monday, January 3, 2011

Keegan

Bill Self uses holiday break to teach Morris twins a lesson

In this sequence of images, Kansas forward Marcus Morris finishes a high-flying dunk and gets the foul from Miami (Ohio) University guard Antonio Ballard during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

In this sequence of images, Kansas forward Marcus Morris finishes a high-flying dunk and gets the foul from Miami (Ohio) University guard Antonio Ballard during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 83-56 victory over Miami (Ohio) on Jan. 2, 2011.

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Bill Self post-game press conference: Miami (Ohio)

Bill Self addresses the media following the Jayhawks' victory against Miami (Ohio).

Ah, the holidays. A time to slip into your comfort zone, do whatever it is that makes you happiest, relieves you of stress, puts a smile on your face.

Unless, that is, you happen to play for Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self, in which case it’s time to get pulled out of your comfort zone by whatever means necessary and begin growing on the path he has chosen for you.

Marcus and to a lesser degree Markieff Morris, KU’s two most talented post players, had triggered public words of displeasure from the coach in recent weeks for settling into a comfort zone well beneath the height of their potential. If Self was down on them publicly, it’s a safe bet the king’s speech behind closed practice doors colored the air blue.

Neither twin started Sunday’s game against Miami of Ohio, those assignments going instead to Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson.

Fire lit, the overmatched Miami players had no shot at putting it out.

The twins took out their anger on the rim, attacking it with dunks off put-backs, pick-and-rolls and fast breaks. Later, they drifted outside and showcased their beautiful shooting touches. They even defended the interior more aggressively.

Reminded of how well they could perform by their coach, who did so by letting them know in every way possible they weren’t performing up to their abilities, Marcus and Markieff proved him right by combining for 38 points and 15 rebounds (eight offensive) in Sunday night’s 83-56 bullying of the RedHawks from the Mid-American Conference.

Markieff made nine of 11 field goals and contributed 20 points and 10 rebounds. Marcus totaled 18 points and five boards.

With Markieff (16 points, seven rebounds) and Marcus (13 points) fueling them, the Jayhawks took a 47-21 halftime lead, by which time KU had a 25-8 advantage on the boards.

Not surprisingly, Self put them back in the starting lineup for the second half, rewarding them for doing what he wanted them to do after a grueling week of double-session practices.

“The toughest practices I’ve ever been through here,” Marcus said. “We did a lot of running. We did a lot of defense. We did a lot of sliding on the floor. We did a lot of diving after balls. It just was a very tough practice (week). I guess it showed why we played so hard, so we don’t have those practices any more.”

One of the flame-fanners feeding him questions pointed out that the practices sounded “terrible.”

“It was very terrible,” Marcus said.

While he was running, jumping and rebounding, shooting and scoring, Marcus was thinking about the potential ramifications of his hustle.

“I was thinking when I was playing, if we play hard like that, ‘Will he do that to us again?’ You can’t beat him,” he said. “So it’s almost impossible. You don’t know what to do, you know what I mean? If we play hard, will we do this again? Or should we play tired, because we practiced so much? It’s just something you’ve got to ask coach. I just hope we don’t practice like that again. Ever again.”

He’s a stubborn fellow, and it finally seems to be dawning on him that his coach not only is every bit as stubborn, but also holds the hammer. You can’t beat Self, and in trying to do so, you just end up beating yourself, so you might as well stop trying to beat Self.

“No,” Marcus said. “You can’t win. He’ll tell you that, too. You can’t beat coach, you know what I mean? He always has the last word on everything. I just hope we don’t practice like that again. Ever.”

How did it compare to Boot Camp?

“No, it was way harder than Boot Camp,” he said. “See, Boot Camp is not punishment. Boot Camp is to get in shape. So you go in with a different mind-set. It was way tougher than Boot Camp to me.”

Markieff agreed with his brother on the severity of the practices. They nearly always agree on everything, which stands to reason since they have identical brains.

“Man,” Markieff said. “Toughest practice I’ve ever had since I’ve been here, the last couple days. I think we deserved it. We didn’t play. I think if we don’t play like we played tonight every game, I think we deserve to practice like that.”

Here’s what the twins are beginning to grasp that Self’s players always eventually get, seldom as freshmen, often as sophomores: The harder you play for him in practice and in games, the less hard he’ll be on you. He’s not going to change, so you might as well change and give him what he wants, becoming a much better basketball player in the process.

Comments

DDDHawk 3 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the article. It gave me quite a chuckle. I can just hear the Morris twins talking about how tough practice was this past week!

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KU_FanSince75 3 years, 3 months ago

Jaybate-----you are a good judge of journalism at its best! I concur. Nice article, Mr. Keegan. I enjoyed it.

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Randy Maxwell 3 years, 3 months ago

It's so easy to know which stories you kool aid drinkers are going to like. If Keegs has any criticism even the slightest warranted or not you people howl like jilted little girls.

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William Blake 3 years, 3 months ago

The twins are so talented, and have the potential for solid pro careers, but they sure aren't making it any easier for themselves. The fact that they've had to be prodded every year to put out effort is known by every pro scout in America.

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KEITHMILES05 3 years, 3 months ago

The twins looked much improved with more energy,etc. However on defense they are still somewhat lazy and don't move their feet hardly at all. They have much room for improvement. I am convinced this team plays to their opponent every game.

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KEITHMILES05 3 years, 3 months ago

The twins looked much improved with more energy,etc. However on defense they are still somewhat lazy and don't move their feet hardly at all. They have much room for improvement. I am convinced this team plays to their opponent every game.

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KEITHMILES05 3 years, 3 months ago

The twins looked much improved with more energy,etc. However on defense they are still somewhat lazy and don't move their feet hardly at all. They have much room for improvement. I am convinced this team plays to their opponent every game.

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Nicholas Cederlind 3 years, 3 months ago

I just don't get it. The game against Arlington was not the first time Coach has commented on the lack of energy/aggressiveness so why lean on the twins, now? Why not earlier? Maybe Coach used up the last of his patience, last week...

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NotWiller 3 years, 3 months ago

Gotta disagree, memhawk-

The Withey I saw last night was a vast improvement, w/ quicker, more confident hands and feet and a willingness/desire to turn to the basket after a rebound. He still has a ways to go (and it's not bashing to say that), but last night, IMHO, was a HUGE step in the right direction for our 7-footer.

There's lots to like about this team, but I think we need more quality minutes from Withey to go deep in March, especially on defense.

Whatever you were doing in practice last week, Jeff....keep it up!!!

And is it bashing to ask why Marcus just doesn't seem to get the rebounding numbers? Five against Miami of Ohio? Someone more savvy should explain to me why he doesn't seem to be crashing the boards- averaging only 6 rebounds per night so far. 'Kieff seems to be the more aggressive rebounder, and T-Rob has more rebounds w/ 7 less minutes, on average. Maybe that's Marcus' role- to hang back while the two bigger bigs go after it?

I digress. The main point is that I saw several reasons to cheer for a much improved Withey last night.

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Martin Rosenblum 3 years, 3 months ago

Conversely, Withey didn't play to his potential being given a chance to start a game, regardless of the reason he was in the starting lineup. Will HCBS put him through "terrible" practices for not fulfilling his potential? He had flashes of his potential. But, continued to look like an extra toe on a foot! (or tits on a boar hog for you guys outside the city)

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Matt1958 3 years, 3 months ago

Maybe I should take a page from HCBS when it comes to my Grandsons and school work.

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YuCoJayHawk 3 years, 3 months ago

How many board rats did a double take when they saw that Withey was starting on Sunday night? He goes from not even getting into the game vs. California to starting vs. Miami(OH)? Very weird. I might understand it if it were Senior night, but still very bizarro. Not sure if Jeff was sick vs. Cal, or if he just really practiced his ass off this past week, but I thought Withey earned a grade of B for his 17 min last night. Solid contributions Jeff, keep it up!

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Dirk Medema 3 years, 3 months ago

Good reporting, but those comments are the story. Just classic!

The over/under question though is how long til they relax?

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waywardJay 3 years, 3 months ago

Indeed, As I often Criticize your work. this is definetely fine work. Thanks for contributing this.

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jaybate 3 years, 3 months ago

Keegs,

This is your new best story.

You got to the heart of it here and stayed out of the way in the process.

Congratulations.

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