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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Final chapter: Emotional Brady Morningstar playing last home game at Allen Fieldhouse

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar defends a pass from Oklahoma guard Calvin Newell Jr. during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar defends a pass from Oklahoma guard Calvin Newell Jr. during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

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KU Seniors to play last game in Allen Fieldhouse

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Wednesday's game against Texas A&M will be the last at Allen Fieldhouse for Kansas seniors Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed and Mario Little.

Brady Morningstar, who grew up in Lawrence, has listened attentively to countless Kansas University Senior Night speeches throughout the years.

His favorite of all-time?

It’s one from the not-so-distant past.

“It’s Sherron’s, probably because I could relate to it,” Morningstar, KU’s 6-foot-4 senior guard out of Free State High, said of last year’s tearful testimonial of Sherron Collins, the Chicago point guard who was embraced by the Morningstar family upon his arrival from the big city.

“I think when he first got here his freshman year ... I don’t think he’d have been able to do that. He came a long way in four years,” Morningstar added.

Morningstar — his Senior Night speech follows today’s 8 p.m. game between KU (27-2, 12-2 Big 12) and Texas A&M; (22-6, 9-5) — figures to be just as emotional as his buddy Sherron’s.

“I’m sure there will be some tears. I hope not, but I’m sure there will be,” said Morningstar, who as a youth was a fixture in the Allen Fieldhouse stands watching games with dad, Roger, who played at KU during the 1973-74 and ‘74-75 campaigns.

“It just shows how much a place means to somebody when you are going to cry over leaving it. It’ll be emotional. That’s life. When you get attached to somebody and it’s coming to an end, even though you knew it would ... you still don’t like to see it coming.”

Senior Night 2011 may turn into one of the most significant in school history if the Jayhawks are able to defeat KU grad Mark Turgeon’s Aggies.

A victory would assure the Jayhawks of a seventh-straight conference title, best string in school history. KU also won six straight league crowns from 1922 to ‘27.

“It is a big deal,” Morningstar said of being the top team in the league. The Jayhawks have won 10 of the 14 Big 12 regular-season titles and a nation’s best 53 conference crowns overall. KU’s six straight titles are second on the country’s active list next to Gonzaga’s 11 in the West Coast Conference.

“We control our own destiny. It’s exciting, a good position to be in,” Morningstar added.

Morningstar, who will start his eighth straight game tonight, has been a steadying force for the Jayhawks. He’s averaged 8.6 points a game in league play off 53.2 percent shooting. He’s made 51.1 percent of his threes with 56 assists versus 10 turnovers. Overall, he has 90 assists against 32 turnovers and averages 6.5 points a game.

“When I came here as a freshman, I didn’t know how much I’d play,” Morningstar said. He played sparingly in 16 games as a freshman, red-shirted, then started 34 of 35 games as a sophomore and nine games his junior campaign.

“I knew I wanted to be part of something special. As years have gone on and I’ve learned the game, gotten an opportunity to play and start making plays, it’s the most fun in the world, especially in front of the fans we have.

“I may have surpassed expectations a bit just because I didn’t expect to be starting three years and making a major impact. I knew I could, but didn’t know if it’d happen or not. It’s exciting. Now it’s time to make the most of the last couple weeks of the season.”

KU coach Bill Self liked Morningstar so much as a Free State High player, he was willing to bring Brady aboard and thwart his plans to attend New Hampton (N.H.) Prep School.

“Recruiting is such an inexact science. Brady lived just down the street. I never did an in-home visit. I saw him play one time in high school and thought he had a chance to be pretty good,” Self said.

“He was recruited by a lot of mid-majors (as well as West Virginia) and made the decision to go to prep school. I got to the family and said, ‘Are you sure you just don’t want to just come to KU now?’ I remember Linda (mom) saying, ‘No, he made a commitment to go to prep school. That would be best for him.’

“It was best. Brady has basically been, even though he has been a sixth man, a three-year starter for us. He started all the games as a sophomore and some as a junior and senior, so he’s been great.”

In fact, Morningstar and fellow Kansan Tyrel Reed have come so far, “They’ve been to the point where if they don’t perform well, we don’t win,” Self said. “There have been huge improvements in their developments since they got here.”

Morningstar — he received his degree in communication studies last May — plans on playing pro ball somewhere next season.

“I think keeping on playing would be the most fun now,” Morningstar said, acknowledging he’s not sure what career path outside of hoops he’d pursue.

“I see Charles Barkley and those guys on TV, I would love to do something like that,” Morningstar added of getting into broadcasting. “I feel to be on such a high level, TNT or something, you have to be an NBA veteran or all-star so people recognize you. I think that would be the most fun, you sit around a studio and talk about basketball. I’d like to stay around the game, maybe get into coaching later in my life, something like that.

“I’ve got no clue what’s coming up. A lot of those decisions are made after the season is over. There’s a lot of season left. We want to make it last as long as we possibly can.”

Comments

jaydeamin 8 years, 9 months ago

Great job Brady, so cool to see a home town kid play out his dreams! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!

madamhawk 8 years, 9 months ago

"There's a lot of season left. We want to make it last as long as we possibly can."...If you guys stay focused and take it one game at a time, I'll meet you on Mass Street on April 5th.

Thank you all for choosing KU. Tonight will be emotional for players, families, coaches and fans. Have a great home game seniors! Beat aTm!!!

nobody1793 8 years, 9 months ago

Senior night?

Uh, Happy 65th Birthday Brady! :)

Lance Hobson 8 years, 9 months ago

Well it does seem like he's been here forever.

8 years, 9 months ago

Not absolutely sure, however I believe noted trolls jayinmomsbasementinnebr and 12schleps have been summarily removed from KUsports.com. If indeed that is the case, a hearty “Thank You!” to the LJW is in order.

100 8 years, 9 months ago

12steps just finished doing surgery on Frank Martin's knee. Been a busy couple days for him. I've noticed since Curtis Kelly cleaned up the paint in Austin he's not all over the other two newspaper sites that engage in KU basketball chatter, shouting and yelling at us KU fans how ashamed we should be of our program because the previous 50 something conference titles don't really count "because they happened a long time ago and that our first coach who started our program is a fake and Wilt never really scored a hundred in an NBA game and Aqib Talib got caught on a drug test, etc etc..."

By the way 12steps... In case you wake up from your midafternoon nap after fixing Martin's knee.... We have nothing against you guys and never have.

The only team we hate with any sort of feeling is Missouri. So go find a rival. Iowa State could be a good match, they need a rival too.

Also congratulations to Frank Martin finally figuring out how to run the triangle offense. It took quite awhile but you guys look really good running it.

jaybate 8 years, 9 months ago

100,

Is that really the triangle?

I swear I saw them running Huggins dad's old East Ohio high school offense. Its what Huggins ran at KSU and still runs at WVU last time I saw one of their games. Its what Martin ran, too.

When did Martin switch to Tex's triple post?

Or are you kidding?

100 8 years, 9 months ago

Jaybate, no joke, indeed it's a version of Tex Winter's old triangle. Call it "frank's tiny obtuse O..."

He put it in just a few days before the Kansas game & shocked the he*ll out of us (we were expecting John Calipari ball based off their tape).

This recent move by Frank is definitely not to be confused by the most beautiful triangle ever, the 6 peating "MJ & the miraculously average miracles."

If any coach in the Big 12 would spend 5 minutes watching their tape it's pretty easy to stop. It's the only thing they've run for 6 games. They do it well. But no big 12 coach has thought outside of the box yet & attempted a simple counterstrategy to the constant (often neurotically focused) movement of Martin's players cutting all throughout the lane.

A clue: Martin's weakness will always be his stubbornness.

HawkBBall 8 years, 9 months ago

Brady, thank you for your commitment to KU. You have contributed so much to the basketball program. From one townie to another, job well done. We will miss you.

RockCaCO3 8 years, 9 months ago

I enjoyed watching you play at KU Brady. Go out with a bang, light a&m UP!

RCJHGKU!

KU_FanSince75 8 years, 9 months ago

Hey, you old man! Go out in style---the Grand Finale! All kidding aside, I loved watching you play, Brady. Some folks didn't like how you played but I knew deep down that HCBS couldn't have done this without you. So, kick some A&M butt tonight. I know it won't take much to get you fired up! Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

Icahawk 8 years, 9 months ago

I just had to comment today. For Brady to have watched his dad play in 1974 he would have to be at least 37 years old. Don't think it happened that way.

Funhawk 8 years, 9 months ago

Brady is well known outside of his dad, but I just have to comment today, too. Roger Morningstar was quite a player. Brady's dad took us to a Final Four. Roger Morningstar was a Jayhawk hero for a Kansas farm kid who could only dream.

pizzaboy225 8 years, 9 months ago

he watched games WITH his dad as a child at the Fieldhouse, not his dad himself play. i had to reread it too

Jared Grillot 8 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, had to do a double-take on this one myself. I wasn't watching with my dad until '77, and I imagine I'm a little older than Brady. However, as pizzaboy mentioned, the "with" changes everything in that sentence. Even so, still glad to have been able to watch him these last few years.

Icahawk 8 years, 9 months ago

OK, just reread the article and he was watching games with his dad, not watching dad play. My bad.

REHawk 8 years, 9 months ago

Brady, thanks for your commitment to Jayhawk basketball. You made a mature young decision, going off to prep school after h.s. graduation, in order to polish your game and lend your body that extra season of growth. Then opting for the red shirt in the '08 Championship season, forced to sit on the bench while your teammates played to glory. Starting and playing so well your soph season, then biting the bullet the first semester of your junior year; keeping your focus and charging back to be so essential to this fine current winning record. Here's wishing you the best, not only as this, your last season in a Jayhawk uniform, winds down, but in all future endeavors, hoops or otherwise. You bear the heart of a champion. The Jayhawk Nation won't soon forget you.

ObiWan 8 years, 9 months ago

No way we win the Big 12 in '09 without Brady stepping up.

Scott Smetana 8 years, 9 months ago

Hey old man, no fear! When the times get rough (which we know they will in the tourneys), we know we can count on you.

PS - could you please light up Mizzery one more time? Thanks.

Kenneth Johnson 8 years, 9 months ago

Brady,

Thanks for all you have done in bringing the Jayhawks to the nation's elite the past few years. Hopefully you can bring KU to the national championship this year.

Ken Johnson (KU MS '70) www.hoopszone.net

Thad Daugherty 8 years, 9 months ago

Does anyone know where I can watch a stream of the speeches?

okiedave 8 years, 9 months ago

I am reminded on how tough KU fans on Freshman kids coming into the program. We expect so much and rarely can these kids meet the fans expectations. I recall posters knocking Monningstar, Collins, the Morris Twins, Selby, .... just about every Freshman and sophomore. But when they get to be Juniors and Seniors they have it figured out and contribute big time. Morningstar is a great example. Morningstar, my advice is do 2 to 4 years of pro-ball, take an assistants job at a Sweet 16 caliber school, then apply for the NC job after Roy gets the boot for losing to Duke on a consistent basis, and then after Self retires you will be in a great position to apply for the KU head coach position in the best basketball venue in the world.

bbhawk234 8 years, 9 months ago

WIth all do respect, Brady is not pro talent. If he is wanting to coach he should be able to get on a division II squad and move up the ranks. To say he should play pro ball 2 to 4 years is not living in reality. Your whole post is a fairy tale. Brady can get a job as a coach but he will not start out wirh everything being handed to him. He will take the same route Lee is taking.

Mmace22 8 years, 9 months ago

Brady has been my favorite player since his sophomore year. Hes become my favorite player of all time. This is a great story, and I enjoyed it very much. Hate to see brady go, but really need to see a victory tonight from the jayhawks, and to all the seniors. Good luck brady, you will be missed!

hawkhoops 8 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for memories, Brady. Absolutely love watching you play.....passing, off ball defense

Hail_To_Thee 8 years, 9 months ago

Every since the ticket scandal and Roger Morningstars name being brought up in it, i've wondered how ackward it will be for all parties (university reps, family, fans) at senior night. As critical as I have been about Brady at times, I sure hope the ticket issue does not overshadow his senior night.

JayHok 8 years, 9 months ago

Brady thanks for being a Jayhawk but there's many more games left as long as we keep playing as a team! We're all looking forward to April Fourth. That night we can finally extinguish the bitter taste of Valentine's night on ESPN.

Also I live out in Portland. Unfortunately can't get local Lawrence stations in my car even with all this new technology. However it's been quite nice the last couple mornings to flip on XM radio. Yesterday I flipped it on expecting to hear college basketball talk. Instead they were talking college football. To my shock they were actually talking about Kansas football! The rivals guy who was talking is really sold on what Kansas is doing. So much that it was the only school in the Big 12 he even discussed in analytical terms. It was quite shocking to be driving around in the Northwest hearing Kansas football recruiting being discussed during March on a national station. I guess it made me realize our new head coach really does have a national buzz going. Considering how conference realignment could go in a few years this seems important for our basketball program to be punishing as the rivals reporter called it Missouri and K-State in football recruiting.

Then today I flipped on the same station. Sure enough they were talking college basketball as expected. Much discussion about the BYU player who was suspended. Then going to break what song do they break out but the Jayhawk fight song.

R O C K C H A L K J A Y H A W K

hawksquawk 8 years, 9 months ago

What kind of phone do you have? If you have an iphone, or any phone with the Android OS, you can definitely get the stations.

I have the "Tune In Radio" app on my android phone and can stream virtually any radio station in the world (well, any that offer streams). I live in Austin, but routinely listen to 610 and 810 AM in Kansas City.

JayHok 8 years, 9 months ago

@Hawksquawk,

I appreciate the information. I'll search the app store and listen to some local KU talk!

r o c k c h a l k j a y h a w k

Rodney Stice 8 years, 9 months ago

Going to be at the Upper Deck in Scottsdale to watch the game. Thank you Mario, Tyrel, and Brady for the memories. You will be missed.

rachchalkjayhawk 8 years, 9 months ago

I watched the KU/OSU game there last year on my birthday. Left there very upset. But it was a great place to watch it. Loved the bathrooms. Ha!

Linda Daxon 8 years, 9 months ago

Amen to most of the above, (except that one cheap shot about the ticket deal). Have a wonderful life, Brady. Being a Jayhawk is a great start.

Kurt Eskilson 8 years, 9 months ago

Thank you, Brady, for being so committed to giving the team exactly what Coach Self asked to the best of your ability every single time. Nobody's perfect, and we all go through hard times, ups and downs. But whether you were sitting, first off the bench or starting, you were always there with a great attitude, working your butt off. We've always been able to count on your effort. Keep working hard, Brady, and keep making Jayhawk Nation proud!

Vittorio1224 8 years, 9 months ago

Let's seal our 7th STRAIGHT conference title with a win tonight, and make it a "Brady Bunch"! ;) Sorry I couldn't resist. LOL

Tony Bandle 8 years, 9 months ago

I will be watching the game in my basement....my house, Mom's in heaven.

Congrats to you, Brady for all you have overcome both actions that were yours and circumstances beyond your control. You have made yourself a better player, a better Jayhawk and a better man.

No one could expect anything more!!

Now go out and win the next eleven games!!!!

100 8 years, 9 months ago

Oak, your mom will be watching with Lisa Robinson, Wilt & Naismith tonight... Best seats in the house.... Every time you hear the Thunder in the fieldhouse, that's those four stomping on the bleachers....

Mike Joseph 8 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for all the memories, good and bad, Tyrel, Brady, and Mario. I remember getting a little choked up last year watching Sherron's senior speech and how emotional Brady was. Gotta feeling the Mrs and I might be a little emotional ourselves tonight during the festivities.

jaybate 8 years, 9 months ago

"Adulation, Shooting Mechanics and the Living Myth:"

As a charter member of Brady's fan club dating to 3 games into his first season starting, I want to jump on this celebration of his contributions to KU basketball, but...

I thought his shooting mechanics were slipping out of the groove a little the last two games, so instead I want to encourage him to go out on Naismith court, when no one is around and keep drilling them till they go in even in his sleep. We can stand him having a 3-4 game slump right now, but nothing more.

Despite it being the greatest scheduled night in KU basketball, I am especially superstitious and weary of senior night. Sherron was never the same after his senior night.

I want the players to avoid all the extreme emotions until the season is over. I want the fans to love the heck out of them, but I want the players to maintain an even strain, then move on to next.

But this is the living myth and living myths are inherently defiant of reason.

Living myths actually create gauntlets to run; i.e., they make things harder than they have to be, so as to make the test of the living myth greater than the test of the actual activity.

Senior night actually makes it harder for seniors to lead a team to the ring.

Any wimpy program like UK can say the toughest thing to accomplish is winning a ring without an emotional let down after senior night.

But at KU, we say, winning a ring is nothing, unless our players have to fight through the emotional let down and still prevail!

I love the living myth. I will not oppose it. But in my heart of hearts I believe Self should tell them to maintain an even strain and think next.

Doing so will still be plenty hard, even with Self telling them that.

Rock Chalk!

100 8 years, 9 months ago

"Enjoy tonight, men.... But keep passing the ball like a laser & April 4th will be our real senior night.... LR.... FOE... Rock-Chalk-Jayhawk!"

rachchalkjayhawk 8 years, 9 months ago

It DOES seem like Brady has been with us forever. It'll be sad to see him go, but I know we all wish him the best in whatever he decides to do. Looking forward to his speech....and the one from my Reedster!

KansasComet 8 years, 9 months ago

49th Anniversary of Wilt's 100 point game. It would be nice if the Jayhawks could reach 100 as well.

actorman 8 years, 9 months ago

"But keep passing the ball like a laser & April 4th will be our real senior night"

You said it, brother. Can I get an amen?

Senior nights are always so special at KU and tonight will be no different. But let's hope that, as Jaybate said, amid all the emotions and passion of this night they keep on at least somewhat of an even keel and keep their eyes on the prize. It's about time that KU move alone into fifth on the all-time title list. Then just one more to catch IU and UNC for third. With all the great tradition we have, that's always been the one thorn in our sides -- the lack of titles. Time to add one more to the collection.

Jeff Kilgore 8 years, 9 months ago

Thanks, Brady. You played hard and done well. Good luck in April!

bradyboy 8 years, 9 months ago

Its my first comment on here. I know there will be tears coming from everyone when the game is over. http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/mens_basketball_2010-11/ remember to vote for Tyrel!!!

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