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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Keegan

Versatile junior Marcus Morris a triple-threat for Jayhawks

Kansas forward Marcus Morris gets a bucket as he's fouled by Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris gets a bucket as he's fouled by Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

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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' 84-79 victory over Iowa State on Jan. 13, 2011.

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— This wasn’t the night to fret that Kansas University’s basketball team didn’t deliver a convincing enough knockout punch to demoralize Iowa State, not the night to wonder when KU would sparkle from beginning to end and look for 40 minutes like the third-ranked team in the nation.

Basketball is supposed to be entertainment, right? And few things are as entertaining as watching a basketball player gifted in nearly every way play the game when his confidence hums and his emotions stay cool and his basketball brain fuels him to make one smart decision after another.

Marcus Morris, one of the nation’s 30 midseason Wooden Award nominees, played like a first-team All-American in an 84-79 victory Wednesday night against Iowa State in Hilton Coliseum, totaling 33 points and 13 rebounds in just 27 minutes with just 15 shots from the field.

Elsewhere in the land of the elite, Duke was upset at Florida State, Ohio State won at Michigan by four points and the preseason favorite to win the Big 12, reeling Kansas State, lost at home to Colorado, where former KU player Tad Boyle has turned the Buffaloes into a confident herd in his first season coaching them.

Confidence is the best word to capture the way Iowa State is playing under first-year coach Fred Hoiberg, an Ames native, former Iowa State superstar and NBA three-point marksman. Starting with point guard Diante Garrett, Hoiberg changed the minds of Iowa State’s players, convincing them they’re better than they thought they were. Wisely, Hoiberg compensated for his lack of coaching experience by hiring Bobby Lutz, coming off of 12 seasons as the all-time winningest coach in the history of the University of Charlotte, as an assistant.

The revived Cyclones had the advantage of a stoked crowd driven to an especially giddy mood because former coach Johnny Orr was on hand for the revealing of his statue. Kansas was on the verge of putting the game away several times, but the Cyclones kept charging back and just might have pulled off the upset but that Marcus Morris wouldn’t let it happen.

Put him anywhere on the floor and he’s a triple-threat, a well-above-average passer, ballhandler and shooter. He showed all his skills, save for his three-point touch. He didn’t attempt any of those because he knew he was quick enough to get around his defender to get a closer shot. Pump-fakes from straight away followed by relentless drives to the hoop, elbow jumpers, baseline turn-around jumpers, put-backs from the weak side, baseline drives and post-ups, Morris embodied the popular 21st-century basketball term “hard-to-guard.”

“He’s always been like that,” said his twin, Markieff, of his brother being a triple-threat from anywhere on the floor. “He was able to show his versatility tonight because of the way they were guarding him.”

Markieff pitched in with 17 points and 11 rebounds. At times, the twins were so active they created the illusion there were four Morris brothers on the floor.

“We played with more energy the last couple of games and practices,” Markieff said of him and his twin. “We sat down and talked to coach, and we realized we do have a little extra boost we can give. And I feel like we’re ready to do that now.”

In 54 minutes, the twins combined for 50 points and 24 rebounds. That’s a huge boost. Most Big 12 teams will bring better defense on the interior than Iowa State, but that doesn’t diminish what the twins contributed and how smart they looked playing the game they so clearly love to play.

Comments

DevilHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Good color-style article/recap from the game.

Dalman 10 years, 10 months ago

Good column! Fret not is right. That was a good win in a pretty hostile environment. Pretty amazing how much the twins have improved since their freshman year.

Funhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

That game was fun. Iowa State has improved a lot.

Otownhawker 10 years, 10 months ago

Good job fellas

That being said,

Not to take anything away from the twins but Wilet averaged that in a season.

Pretty crazy stuff

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Question: What in heck kind of an offense was Iowa State running?

Lots of ball screens.

But it didn't look quite like a Princeton.

Was it Cal's Princeton on Roids?

Kind looked like that offense, but then sometimes didn't.

For one stretch it looked a little like Tex Winter's Triangle.

Then it didn't.

I give up. What does the Mayor have those guys running?

It was really screwing up our players' defense.

Whatever it is, it looks wonky as hell, but it kept getting guys open all over the place. When ISU gets some more players, it could make them very tough.

FairgroveJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

They were running the one versatile player, one three point shooter and three passer girdled-by-fouls offense

kcglowboy 10 years, 10 months ago

Great column. Informative recap and analysis, including the shout-out to The Mayor.

Ben Simonett 10 years, 10 months ago

I still think the twins need to dunk more.

They do such a good job establishing position, it feels like such a waist when they drop step and lay it in softly. they need to flush it down and demoralize the opponent!

thats what all the NBA scouts have been saying about marcus, very talented but he needs to learn to finish strong.

JJHawq 10 years, 10 months ago

nice job bennybob. find a flaw in a 33/14 night.

nocaljayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

I'll nit-pick, too---shooting a better FT% would add at least a couple points per game to each of the twins' averages and make close games feel much more comfortable.

Alec White 10 years, 10 months ago

Great article. Until yesterday, I thought that Selby would have to be our best player to win a NC, but with this performance and a little thought time I've changed my mind. It's kinda like Duke's situation with Irving...Selby and Irving both being heralded freshman expected to lead their bluebloods to a banner before bolting to the NBA (say that 5 times fast). But that comparison really shortchanges Marcus Morris and his crazy efficiency on the offensive side. I'm much too lazy to look up all the numbers, but just look at this stat line...

12.8pts/gm, 57% from the field, 6.1 rbs, 38% 3PFG in 24.7 minutes/game

As a lot of you have guessed, those are Mook's stats from 09-10'. Now, being the #1 option this year you would expect his efficiency to decrease (not his raw numbers, just things like FG and 3pt percentage) because of the increased scrutiny placed on him by opposing defenses. Not the case, he has actually gotten better to the tune of...

16.8pts/gm, 60% from the field, 6.8 rbs, 41% 3PFG in 25.4 minutes/game

His assist-to-turnover ratio has also improved from .77 to 1.05. Obviously, nothing to gloat about, but at least he's assisting on more buckets than ending possessions with a TO, right?

And my last thought, on a semi-related note...when will we see the Showtime Selby that dazzled us in his youtube mixtapes? I'm not complaining---he has an amazing stroke and obviously is very confident in it, but he has that crazy knack for getting to the rim (or at least in the paint). He uses his balance and great explosion to deftly shift by defenders only to throw up a Tyshawn floater when he sees a big brute ready to contest his shot at the rim. My guess is that he's still getting used to the competition and when he does get things going, that's when we will be the team to beat.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

"The Unedited Parable of the Three Basketball Wise Men, plus Big Leonard, and Little Mikey"

Dear Readers basking in the glow of FSU beating Duke with a stick,

If you watched much of the Duke loss to FSU, Big Leonard seemed to have lowered the boom on Little Mikey pre game. This is, of course, at most wild speculation on my part, and perhaps, at least, wishful thinking.

But do continue reading anyway, it is a worthwhile parable, whether true, or not.

You remember Big Leonard Hamilton, right? Big Leonard hired Bill Self to be his assistant long ago at Okie State. It was Bill Self's first real assistant coaching job, after his little graduate assistant stint at KU under LB.

Big Leonard is the unsung mentor of Bill Self's three wise men--Eddie, LB, and Big Leonard. You remember them. They are the three wise men who followed the bright star high above the Iba stable in Stillwater and did their parts to see to it that the baby Bill was given the basketball equivalents of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Larry d'Brown brought the gold--the power of kings--the will to rule a team the right way.

Eddie d'Sutton brought the frankincense--the power of the priest--of the shaman to orchestrate strategies of life for the tribe.

Big Leonard d'Hamilton?

Big Leonard brought myhrr--the power of death--the embalming fluid--the power of scaring the bejeezus out of an opponent with a glare--with just how far you are willing to go, when provoked by any who would stain the game.

The three wise men were Basketball Zurvanists--basically quasi-Persian astrologers from Basketball Babylon, a land where the language of basketball is spoken in many different dialects, schemed many different ways, but played with one common credo that traces back to the Greeks, or maybe the Manicheans even: "try to do things the right way, knowing no one is perfect, but everyone can try to get better." There is also a corollary, or a subverse, if you will that goes like this: "Thou shalt not cheap shot, except in retaliation for being cheap shotted up on."

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Bill's three wise men were guys who could foresee and foretell the future of college basketball long before most ordinary coaching schmucks could. Why they had this ability is a mystery, as it always is with astrologer types.

Each wise man had different coaching ancestors, but the legend says--probably to keep things tidy and not distract from the message too much: they had a common mythical ancestor, some fellow named Daniel. In reality this mythical Daniel was probably a composite of Henry Iba (for Eddie), Dean Smith (for Larry), and Joe B. Hall (for Big Leonard).

Now, in the line of biblical basketball begatting, we all know that Iba studied, Phog, Dean played for Phog, and Joe B. played for Rupp, who played for Phog. So: you could say that this mythical Daniel stands for Forest Allen, or at least for the grandest tree of college basketball coaching, the tree being a symbol of life and its common origins, or initial conditions, if you are a hard core rationalist and man of science prone explain things in terms of chaos and emergent complexity.

But I have digressed far into the arcanity of biblical basketball mythology (and some scientific rationalism) to limn the context to the story of Florida State beating Duke with a stick, and of how Big Leonard may have done it.

So, dear reader, I shall now return to the crux of the matter.

Big Leonard is a rather large and imposing figure of a basketball man. He has what Native Americans living in the habitat ranges of grizzlies once called "the power of the bear."

The power of the bear is great and while the bear is often hibernating peacefully, or just going about its business quietly in the high country searching for some honey to chase down a salmon, or some trout with, there are times, when a grizzly is just down right mean and unpredictable, and very, very, very territorial. No one, of course, know for sure why a Grizzly gets this way, but some zoologists particularly steeped in fine points of evolutionary biology reckon it is they get this way because they can...by this I take to mean grizzly's get mean sometimes simply because no other creature in the forest is big enough to kick their asses, scientifically speaking, of course. But I digress again, as to the whys and wherefores and hows of Big Leonard and Florida State beating Little Mikey and Duke with a stick.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

What I suspect is this: Big Leonard walked over to Little Mikey during warm ups, as coaches are want to do to make a little small talk, so as to intuit a bit about the emotional readiness and edge of their coaching opponent for the game. This is most often done in the guise of pre-game sportsmanship and collegiality.

But this night, Big Leonard did not just make chit chat with Little Mikey.

This night Big Leonard smiled, but then suddenly flashed his most ferocious and chilling glare at Little Mikey. And men who have the power of the bear are capable of glares that would menace the devil himself.

Big Leonard menaced Little Mickey.

And Big Leonard perhaps said something like this:

"Little Mike, me and quite a few of the other coaches around the country are sick and tired of your XTReme Cheap shotting, you sawed off little pencil neck. We understood, we did not like, but we understood, you resorting the cheap shotting whenever more than three down, in the title game to that pencil neck Brad Stevens and his illegal hand checking defense. We understood, Little Mikey, that sometimes a coach in the spell of trying to win a ring, which we all desperately want to win, we understood that you went over the line and violated the most sacred credo in coaching: try to win the right way."

Then Big Leonard probably crowded in on Little Mikey some and continued, "But when you kept it up this season, well, the brotherhood of respectable coaches, well, you know how coaches talk, Little Mikey. They talked and talked and the consensus was Little Mikey has lost his perspective and may need a lesson in humility. But they said give Little Mikey till conference season to recover his senses." Then Big Leonard stood at tall and imposingly as he could over Little Mikey, actually blocking out some of the light from above, and he continued, "So: Little Mikey, I drew the short straw in the caucus and have been delegated to set you straight. I am authorized to speak for all of the sons of Daniel, and to say, "If you so much as move a muscle to hint to one of your players that they should cheap shot tonight, I am to come down the court, grab you by the throat, and punch you ugly honker out the back of your pin head. Do you understand me, Little Mikey?"

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Little Mikey probably looked sheepishly about, hoping no one was listening, then nods obediently. "Now, you know me, Little Mikey, I am good coach, who, has had to mostly engage in rebuilding programs and make do with lesser players until this recent gig at Florida State. I am no saint. I have made mistakes just like all of us in coaching. But more than most other coaches, especially those at Maybach programs, I have long since learned how to get another job, when one goes south for whatever reason. I am even at a point in my career, where I could walk away from the game happily and be contented with what I have accomplished, though I do not want to, Little Mikey. And so I am particularly well-suited to walk down this hard wood and pound the living shiz out of you, if you so much as think of ordering a cheap shot. Do you read me, loud and clear, Little Mikey? Do you?"

Then Little Mikey, sensing moisture in his Fruit of the Looms, and feeling his knees tremble, said, "Yes, Big Leonard, I understand. No cheap shotting to night, or you'll beat me into one of the cracks in the floor and sand me off with your heel. Is that correct, sir?" And Big Leonard smiled that great bear of a smile of his, shook Little Mikey's trembling hand, and returned to preparing his team for the game at the other end of the floor.

And Little Mikey did not order a cheap shot. He sat on the bench like a scared little bully that had been called out and exposed for being the chippy little chump that he truly had been acting like. He wanted to order a cheap shot in the worst way, but he did not, because he was too chicken.

And I also suspect that after the game, when Duke could not beat FSU without Duke's customary cheap shotting, I suspect that Big Leonard smiled and took Little Mikey's hand squeezing it almost till it broke, said, "Welcome back to reality, Coach K. the coaching brotherhood authorizes me to put you on notice that you are on cheap shotting probation. Any more cheap shots before you retire, and some other coach will do what I promised to do tonight. Now, great game, Coach, your kids played hard."

And Big Leonard went on down the handshake line knowing he had struck a blow to save the virtue of the greatest game ever invented.

(Note: all fiction. No malice.)

zsn 10 years, 10 months ago

Hey LJW: anyone on the actual staff reading these comments? Give this man a gig, already! He is running circles around all the paid writers!! I have more-or-less stopped reading the leading articles - jaybate is WAY more entertaining and informative. Come on, "Big Lenny-Little Mikey"; "Coach Konsonants"; "The Princeton-Shaken-not-Stirred-with-a-twist"; "The Prizzi".....give him a Monday-Thursday column, above the fold.

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