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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Promise keeper: Unfinished business consumes Marcus Morris on journey to stardom

One year ago, top-seeded Kansas University was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the second round. A year later, Marcus Morris, pictured above, is doing everything in his power not to let it happen again.

One year ago, top-seeded Kansas University was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the second round. A year later, Marcus Morris, pictured above, is doing everything in his power not to let it happen again.

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More for Marcus

The accolades keep rolling in for Marcus Morris. After being named Big 12 Player of the Year by the league’s coaches, the junior was tapped player of the year by the Associated Press on Tuesday.• See complete list of 2011 All-Big 12 honors

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Marcus morris, right, and Elijah Johnson greet each other in this Jan. 16, 2010, file photo before taking on Texas Tech in Allen Fieldhouse. Johnson says Morris is one of the best friends he’s ever had in his life.

Only five Kansas University players remained in the Oklahoma City Thunder locker room following the biggest upset of the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

It was March 20, a Saturday, and Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson both sat in front of their lockers, while Markieff Morris and Xavier Henry buried their heads in their laps, still stung after Northern Iowa’s 69-67 victory over KU.

Only one player stood. Marcus Morris paced back and forth, still trying to make sense of what had just happened.

Marcus felt like he’d just lost a family member. Never again would he play with guard Sherron Collins, center Cole Aldrich and Henry, with Aldrich and Henry later declaring for the NBA Draft.

Marcus was certain of one thing, a line he kept repeating to himself over and over again.

“I can’t let this happen to my team next year. I can’t let this happen to my team next year. I can’t let this happen ... ”

It was then, watching his teammate pace back and forth, back and forth across the room, that Johnson realized KU had become Marcus Morris’ team.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Wearing a blue KU practice jersey over a gray T-shirt, KU junior Marcus Morris makes his way behind a large desk a half-hour before a recent practice.

He leans forward in the office chair, answering questions intently, and after a few minutes talking to him, it’s tough not to notice the contradictions.

The player that KU coach Bill Self says can do more things than any other he’s ever coached is the same one that drives the coach crazier than any other.

The player with the reputation of being dirty on the court is a media favorite thanks to his friendliness, candidness and steady stream of one-liners.

And the player who loves playing basketball more than anything else in the world has to constantly be pushed to be at his best.

Want to know more about him? It’s probably best to start at the beginning.

“It’s tough to understand what we come from,” Marcus says.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Though Marcus’ family — which includes his mother, Angel, older brother, Blake, and twin brother, Markieff — is especially close-knit, there were times it couldn’t shield him from what was going on outside his house’s walls on Erie Avenue in Philadelphia.

Marcus saw a lot of things growing up: dead bodies getting picked up on his block after shootings; needles, cocaine and marijuana and knowing people that told him they were drug dealers; ambulances and policemen outside his window, dealing with the aftermath of another instance of street violence.

During Marcus’ freshman year, two friends were killed over a basketball game in west Philly. One of the men was coaching, and after exchanging words with people in the crowd during the game, he was shot afterwards.

Marcus says he still hears about young kids with dreams that never make it out of the city.

“In Philadelphia, it’s either you rap, you play ball or you sell drugs,” Marcus says. “That’s just the Philadelphia mindset for kids around our age.”

Marcus’ most traumatic experience came when he was around 14. While hanging out late at night in his neighborhood with Markieff and some other friends, gunfire erupted as a confrontation broke out on his street.

Marcus’ first instinct was to get away. And it wasn’t a slow instinct.

The two brothers immediately took off, sprinting their way safely back to the house.

“Bullets,” Marcus says, “don’t have a name.”

The incident changed Marcus’ view on life. Even now, when he goes home to visit, he’s careful about what he does and where he goes.

“Just in north Philly,” Marcus says, “every place can be the wrong time.”

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

During his junior year of high school, Marcus received a cell-phone call in class from his neighbor who told him that his house was in flames.

Nearly everything was gone. Clothes, photographs and even the bunk bed that Marcus and Markieff shared were destroyed, along with the house.

With few other options, Angel decided to move the family in with her parents, Shirley and Thomas, on Jerome Street in the Hunting Park neighborhood in Philly.

The three boys stayed in the basement, roughly as big as one of the rooms at Jayhawker Towers where Marcus lives now.

The basement’s height was only 6-foot-5, meaning both Marcus and Markieff had to hunch over to avoid hitting their heads on the ceiling.

Blake slept on the floor, while Marcus and Markieff shared a bed made up of two twin-sized mattresses pushed together. Every day, the brothers filled up kerosene heaters to warm the basement, hoping that the heat would last through the night, which didn’t always happen.

“Me and my brother just had too much pride for anybody to feel sorry for us,” Marcus says, “so we never really told anybody about it.”

Friends and coaches said even with the altered living arrangements, Marcus and Markieff didn’t change.

High-school teammate Lamar Trice still came over to their house everyday, even spending the night on occasion.

When he did, he’d sleep between the twins on their mattresses in the basement.

Marcus says the move was difficult at times, but it also provided ample motivation.

His grandparents still live in the old house on Jerome Street. Shirley is still working into her 60s, and other family members are struggling to get by as well.

Marcus knows making the next level could help them out of those situations.

“I just feel like me and ’Kieff are the future of the family,” Marcus says. “I feel like we’re the future of Philadelphia at times.”

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Prep Charter High School coach Dan Brinkley still laughs when talking about the phone call he took from his cousin, Leonard Brinkley, about seven years ago.

Leonard, a teacher’s aide, began talking about these two kids at his school that played basketball. Neither was very good, but they were both 6-foot-5.

Dan was confused.

“Lenny,” he said, “I thought you worked at an elementary school.”

Leonard responded.

“I do work at an elementary school.”

About a week later, Dan was driving up Broad Street — one of the biggest and busiest in Philadelphia. Looking to his left, he spotted two young boys walking in the opposite direction.

Both were about 6-5. And both, Dan says, looked like babies.

Though he’d never seen them before, Dan knew he’d just found the Morris twins.

After pulling a U-turn in the middle of the street, Dan parked his car and followed the twins to their house on Erie Avenue, staying a few steps behind. When they made a left onto a porch, Dan followed the confused brothers up the stairs.

“Is your mom home?” Dan asked.

Once inside, Dan talked to Angel about the twins joining his AAU team: the Hunting Park Warriors.

He made sure to include a promise.

“If you allow your sons to play basketball,” Brinkley said, “I guarantee they’ll get Div. I scholarships.”

Angel agreed, and Brinkley received a pair of raw 13-year-olds. Neither could dunk at 6-5. Both struggled to even make layups. During one game, both twins stopped running at midcourt during the middle of the game; turned out that a previous coach had told them that if they needed breaks, they should just take them right there in the center of the court.

Still, Brinkley noticed something right away with Marcus: The big man had great hands.

“I told him, ‘I’m going to make you a guard,’ and he started laughing at me,” Brinkley said. “When I wasn’t laughing, he realized I was serious.”

On his state championship team his senior year at Prep Charter High School, Marcus Morris ended up being more than the team’s starting small forward.

He also was the team’s backup point guard.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

When Prep Charter High School assistant coach Rahim Washington picks up the Morris twins from the airport, he’s always greeted with the same questions.

“Where are Tamyre and Rahim? Did you bring them?”

Rahim Jr., 13, and Tamyre, 4, are Rahim’s two sons, and both gravitate to the twins when they make their way back to Philly, whether it’s playing video games or wrestling on the floor.

Rahim Washington, 32, was just 25 years old when he first met the Morris brothers as an assistant coach for Prep Charter High School.

Many times, Washington took it upon himself to challenge Marcus.

At 5-foot-9, Washington would face Marcus every day in one-on-one battles. Washington — who is second in the record books at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia for points scored in a game, behind a guy named Wilt Chamberlain — won most of the games. He let Marcus know about it, too.

Brinkley also had the twins for gym class, and one assignment was teaching them “The Bop” — an old-school Philadelphia dance popular in 1950s night clubs.

Sometimes, when watching KU games, Washington can see some of that same rhythm from Marcus in high school, where he finally convinced him to dance with the girls to get his ‘A.’

During Marcus’ sophomore year, there was one time when he was complaining on the team van about head coach Dan Brinkley.

Marcus said he didn’t want to play any more. Why did Brinkley want him at Prep Charter if he was just going to sit on the bench?

Washington delivered the truth back to Marcus. He wasn’t playing hard enough. There was no reason, at his size, that he should only be getting more than three or four rebounds per game.

“Well,” Marcus said, “I’m just going to go out there and grab every rebound then.”

The next game, he led Prep Charter with 19 rebounds.

“Don’t tell him that he can’t do something,” Washington says. “Don’t tell him that this guy is outworking you, because his thing is, ‘All right, I’m going to prove you wrong then.’”

Washington’s relationship with Marcus goes deeper now.

This past summer, while Marcus and Markieff were in Philadelphia, Washington picked them up from their grandmother’s house and drove them to St. George St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on the corner of South 61st and Hazel Avenue.

There, Rahim Jr. and Tamyre were baptized, and afterwards, Marcus and Markieff received a pair of certificates: Markieff, the godfather of Rahim Jr.; Marcus, the godfather of Tamyre.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Marcus Morris is ready to tell a secret. Things weren’t always great for him at KU.

His freshman year, KU coach Bill Self told him that he was out of shape.

Before every practice, Marcus says, he had to touch every step in Allen Fieldhouse. He says he’d run all the way up a set of stairs, touch the blue number marking the section, then run back down to the floor before going to the next row.

At the time, he hated Self.

“My freshman year, I wanted to transfer. I couldn’t stand it,” Marcus says. “But I’m happy that he did that to me, because it made me the person I am today and the player I am today.”

During Marcus’ freshman season, Self remembers times when he would try to correct him on something minor, Marcus would deny something that the coach had seen with his own eyes.

Marcus would tell Self he hadn’t messed up, continuing to insist he hadn’t all the way until film sessions, when the video clearly showed Marcus’ flub.

Now, Self’s critiques aren’t questioned. The coach hears, “My bad,” from Marcus more than anything else.

“He’s changed a lot in that regard,” Self says.

One thing that was never in question was Marcus’ personality.

Though the Morris twins have earned the reputation as dirty players because of some on-court physical play, Self says Marcus and Markieff are the two most fun guys on the team to hang out with, which makes their teammates care about them.

KU senior Brady Morningstar calls Marcus as loyal of a person as he’s been around since he’s been at KU.

The Morris twins’ motto — “Family over Everything” — even has become a team slogan. The two use the abbreviation “FOE” on most of their Tweets, and the words are inscribed on both Marcus’ and Markieff’s left biceps.

Sophomore Elijah Johnson — who likes to make SmashBurger runs with Marcus — says people have the wrong impression of him if they only think he’s a rough-tough kid from Philly.

“I see that side of Marcus when he’s mad or frustrated,” Johnson says, “but Marcus has to be one of the best friends I’ve ever ran across ever in my life.”

He’s become a leader, too, and Johnson was there the moment it happened.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Talk to the ones close to Marcus, and they all have a story about how the Northern Iowa loss affected him.

Trice — currently a guard at Mount St. Mary’s — said Marcus told him he wasn’t sure exactly how the loss had happened, but that he was going to get himself a championship.

“He was going to go harder than ever before with workouts,” Trice said. “He said he wasn’t taking any days off. He stuck by those words.”

Washington saw it first-hand in the summer. If Marcus wasn’t lifting weights, he was shooting around. He worked on drills, going from his jump shot to his long jump shot to his mid-range game to his jump-hook, one right after the other.

There was a time in the summer when Washington texted Marcus at 10 p.m., and Marcus answered it at 2 in the morning. He said he’d just gotten out of the gym.

Sometimes, Marcus would mention to Washington that his wrist hurt. Or his calves were sore. Or his shoulders didn’t feel right.

Though Washington pleaded with Marcus to take one day off to let his body rest up, Marcus said he couldn’t.

There were days when Marcus went through a light workout, only shooting a few free throws. But he never took a day off.

“It’s all because of that loss,” Washington says. “He doesn’t want to have that feeling again.”

Brinkley also received calls from Marcus, wanting to work out both morning and night.

“I had never seen that kind of focus,” Brinkley says.

Marcus himself says every time he saw a basketball, every time he took a shot, the same thoughts ran through his mind.

“Man, what if I’d have made this shot against Northern Iowa? Or what if I would have grabbed that rebound?”

“I think about it every day,” Marcus says. “I thought about it every day.”

When Johnson stays over at the twins’ dorm room, Marcus’ first words in the morning are about basketball. When the two leave class, Marcus is talking about basketball.

“It’s on his mind. It’s on all our minds,” Johnson says, “but he just speaks it more than anybody else.”

That included March 20, 2010, a Saturday, when in the middle of a locker room, Marcus repeated the same words over and over, pledging to his teammates to work harder than he ever had before.

More than an hour after the team bus had left, Marcus made it around to his four teammates. Even though they didn’t feel like doing anything at the time, Marcus made them stand up with him.

Marcus wrapped his arms around Henry, Robinson and Johnson and made a promise.

“It won’t happen again,” he said, as the teammates made their way out of the locker room.

Comments

minipman 8 years, 9 months ago

Good Stuff.. and i like the timing.. hopefully Marcus repeats those words everyday.. "it wont happen again".. now go get that Championship Marcus.. stay true to your word!

100 8 years, 9 months ago

Loved having the X man here. Really enjoyed watching Carl when he played here (wished he could have backed off a bit while his kids were here though). And CJ's game had some nice moments.

But as loaded as that team was last year, and we were loaded.... It just wasn't a fascinating team to watch like we have now...

I just really believe Reed & Morningstar & EJ bring so much more "Jayhawkness" to the court than X did as a OAD.

Now... If it was a few years ago, X would have stayed 4 years & would have been one of our all time Jayhawks, spilling his heart on the floor & not worrying about the NBA until he had his degree.

I really felt like that was part of the problem with last year's team. We labored often to beat inferior teams because we spent a lot of time standing around. And then Sherron would drive in & try to do his thing. And by the time that happened, maybe, our bronchitis laden center might make it to halfcourt.

We were the best team last year.

But we really needed to get past that 2nd round to wake up & have some fun.

In contrast, this team (minus one game) appears to just love basketball, loves swinging the ball all over the gym, loves shooting in the gym when no one is looking....

Loved X. But glad he made the NBA if that's really what he wanted.

Me?

If i had a time machine & could become a college kid again, I would do exactly what Kief... Marcus... Trobb.... Morningstar... Reed... EJ.... And the rest are doing....

Love.

The.

Game.

Now.

Respect.

Yourself.

Now.

Win.

A.

Championship.

Because.

It's.

Gonna.

Be.

One.

Helluva.

Parade.

In.

Lawrence.

Doug LeMoine 8 years, 9 months ago

One of the better profiles I've read on the LJW. It provides a very different perspective on Marcus, one that really resonates with what I see in his better moments (which consume 99% of his time on the court, let's be honest).

Bob Thompson 8 years, 9 months ago

+1 a lot of work went into this..... good work

hawksquawk 8 years, 9 months ago

Great Story.

But you got the wrong photo; that's Markieff...

Prove me wrong.

phi4life940 8 years, 9 months ago

It's Marcus. Those are photos from media day.

Andy Hess 8 years, 9 months ago

http://media.lawrence.com/img/photos/2010/10/12/ku_bkc_media_day_nk_02_t640.jpg

compare the facial hair of Markieff and Marcus in this picture. It's definitely Marcus. There. I proved you wrong.

baldwinjhawk 8 years, 9 months ago

the top picture is keif the pic with elijah is marcus

CaramelMacchMan 8 years, 9 months ago

I don't know man. It looks Marcus to me. hmm It does look little like Markieff though.

Michael Auchard 8 years, 9 months ago

“Bullets,” Marcus says, “don’t have a name.”

Good writer, here.

Jacob Pool 8 years, 9 months ago

That is definetely not Markieff that is Marcus. Great article it is so cool to see the stories of two men growing up. And becoming the amazing men they are two day on and off the court. When they first came to KU I thought they were just a couple of punks. Now I look at them as great role models for the rest of the team and great leaders on the court.

ParisHawk 8 years, 9 months ago

Marvelous story. Xavier has gotten some anti posts this year, it's good to read that he took the UNI loss hard. Also great that Elijah has made a leap forward at just the right time to help the team get farther in the postseason. Still, Marcus is the focus in the story and he has to be the focus on the court. There'll be a time when he'll make the difference.

waywardJay 8 years, 9 months ago

It Becomes ELijah's team next year, along with everyone's favorites Tyshawn, and Josh. Whether or not the Morri stay or Go, They become those leaders, win or lose.....

Thinking " We gotta do this again..."

or " We cannot let this happen again...."

Leadership cycle turns from Elijah to Nadir and Royce.... From Marcus to Thomas..... To Zach Petters and who else we will bring in next year class.....

Part of Self-Ball, is self evident..... As a freshman, you go through misery and then you find out what real misery is seeing the last days dwindled down to nothing.... you see that look of this could be the last one in Brady's eyes. Tyshawn's Eyes, Elijah's eyes, and Josh's eyes. Every year it becomes another person who comes in and battles, and shortly there after is looking back at the court knowing it;s there last day.... wondering how it disappeared so fast. We learn quick how much it MATTERS here. How much it means to Us, To the coaches and most importantly, to the players who play.

Marcus as completely risen from the image most of us had crafted of him as a freshman. He lit an effigy to himself and came out last year as a playe rin waiting to dominate, and that lit a fire udner others also ( Look at ELijah, and wonder how many he is going to influence.... )

Bring them on, Coach. Starting with the Orange and Black attack. Good focus group, players who scored pretty handily on us just a few weeks back.... Let's see those Morri's knock them flat on their backs.

cobweb 8 years, 9 months ago

Coach Self makes men out of rough kids better than any coach in the country. A prima donna like Micah Downs won't cut it in his locker room. Thanks to their toughness and work ethic, the twins will make themselves and mom a lot of money. I'm no scout, but what they have inside is rare, combined with obvious talent. It's been fun to watch. I hope they hang around next year.

Steve Yeakel 8 years, 9 months ago

Great article Jesse, great insight into Marcus. Marcus, we are very blessed to have you as a Jayhawk, we are with you as you and Kief lead this team to be the very best we can be this year. Go Jayhawks!

Martin Rosenblum 8 years, 9 months ago

Jesse,

This sort of feels like a testimonial. Such a story that is usually told at the end of something. Nobody knows if he/they will leave after this season. I'm sure all of my fellow posters agree that we want them to stay.

You've been saving these stories and must have felt this is the right time to put them out here. Hope we don't get jinxed by this! If he/they leave, it's all your fault! How about that pressure and guilt?

8 years, 9 months ago

Marcus himself says every time he saw a basketball, every time he took a shot, the same thoughts ran through his mind.

“Man, what if I’d have made this shot against Northern Iowa? Or what if I would have grabbed that rebound?”

“I think about it every day,” Marcus says. “I thought about it every day.”


This helps put into perspective for us fans who thought the loss was hard on us.

Thanks for the great story, Jesse.

KU_FanSince75 8 years, 9 months ago

Jesse---- One of the finest articles you have ever written. I was like a sponge reading this article. Thanks for a great insight on Marcus.

BTW, Marcus won't have to worry about sleeping on two twin beds pushed together or bending over because of a 6' 5" ceiling. The NBA will be calling next year (depending on the lockout), especially, if we make it to Houston and win this darn thing! Good luck Thursday, Marcus! Keep your promise, man! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

HawkBBall 8 years, 9 months ago

Keep that focus, Marcus. You are the leader. Bring it all home!

Ben Kane 8 years, 9 months ago

Really enjoyed this article, thanks Jesse.

jaybate 8 years, 9 months ago

Each sentence is a bullet bringing story.

I am riddled.

Good.

Marcus.

Nothing is writ.

Every step has your name on it.

Climb each one.

Carry the team on those broad shoulders.

Make it.

tis4tim 8 years, 9 months ago

“Don’t tell him that he can’t do something,” Washington says. “Don’t tell him that this guy is outworking you, because his thing is, ‘All right, I’m going to prove you wrong then.’”

Marcus, you'll never win a championship at KU.

Martin Rosenblum 8 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, and you'll never get double doubles in all of the remaining games this season either!

John Randall 8 years, 9 months ago

Tim and Mem aren't being funny . . .

they're just doing their part.

waywardJay 8 years, 9 months ago

Don't let Danny's run show you up, Marcus. YOu will never be anything comparible to Danny. You will never beat "the Coach."

Brian Stratman 8 years, 9 months ago

Also, that photo is not from Lubbock. That is Allen Fieldhouse.

chicagoeddie 8 years, 9 months ago

awesome read!!! hope this focus and hard work gets more strong from now on!!

Dyrk Dugan 8 years, 9 months ago

very good feature on Marcus. we forget, or let's just say we don't want to remember, where a lot of these kids come from...and their lives are a lot different than most fans.

they've already accomplished plenty, just to be in this position....and the grand hope is, they take advantage of it. and it looks like Marcus has. Kudos to him and his brother...his entire family.

we're in the post season now, and these guys will lead us....not only in the locker room and the practice court...but the games as well. they are the bread and butter...and if everyone plays their parts, we'll be just fine. Go Jayhawks!

KGphoto 8 years, 9 months ago

Easy on the "Marcus felt like he'd just lost a family member" bit. It's WAY to soon. And no, he didn't feel anything like that.

Marcus wrapped his arms around Henry, Robinson and Johnson and made a promise.

“It won’t happen again,” he said, as the teammates made their way out of the locker room....

..."I know" said Henry "because I won't be here."

jayhawktalk 8 years, 9 months ago

Fantastic article. I love these human interest pieces, and this one, like the twins themselves, is exceptional.

Fred Davis 8 years, 9 months ago

Nice Story... It's funny, before I read this this morning, I told my dad that if the Hawks are going to win a Title this year, it's up to the Twins to lead the way... I would've like to have heard a little more from Markieff in this story, maybe even the mother, but still a solid story. Perhaps the saddest part about this story is Xavier. He really should have stayed another year, and after reading about his reaction, I'm sad for the kid, because I feel he wanted to stay but other forces prevented him from making that decision.

hayjawk 8 years, 9 months ago

True about Xavier, the kid shed real tears when announcing that he was leaving. I wish he had been left to make his own decision.

And I think it is kind of funny that Markief doesn't get the co player of the year award. He has improved every aspect of his game and makes Marcus that much more of a threat. While Marcus's point average is only a bit higher, Markief's rebound average is a little higher. Both contribute mightily and the twins are a tandem force that really shouldn't be acknowledged seperately.

Wasn't it John Paxton who said that he would like to take either one?

Hank Cross 8 years, 9 months ago

Many of those 'fans' who posted those things about the twins after the KSU loss were first-timers not seen since.

FLJHK 8 years, 9 months ago

Wow. Absolutely tremendous article.

Anonymous58 8 years, 9 months ago

I would like to mention one thing. I have been to most KU home games this year and arrive fairly early to watch warm-up. As I look around I have seen the Morris twins mom hug those boys, kiss them before the start of games, hug and encourage TRob after the death of his mom, and send love to many of the other boys. You do get hardened to life when you see and live the things those boys have in their short lives but they are also the fun, loyal, and decent kids they have grown into because they have a mother who truly cares and loves them. They may well be their family's future but their mom has loved them through it all and it is awesome to see.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 9 months ago

The boys have "Shirley" and "Angel" tattooed on their arms, and whether you look the tattoos or not, you can tell that they truly love and cherish their family and value that closeness more than anything.

Question, when both twins are in the NBA playing for different teams, does momma move back to Philly, stay in Lawrence, or move to be with one of her boys? I bet the boys buy her and their grandma a really nice house in Philly.

waywardJay 8 years, 9 months ago

It's interesting... don't outright consider the twins on diffferent teams yet.... Some Smart GM might able able to find a way to take Marcus with the 3rd pick, and "kieff by trading up into the late first round.

You need proof Twins can stay together, Look at the Sedin's In Vancouver ( Playing Hockey )... They were drafted BACK TO BACK, in the top 10.

Twins CAN stay together, hopefully after two more championships and on more year of stellar basketball.

Debbie Mangen 8 years, 9 months ago

I noticed when Tyshawn was injured in a game recently, as he was coming back out, Angel was there to give him a kiss and a pat on the back before he nade his way to the bench. I do believe she is the team's "guardian Angel". I know she wants the twins to stay another year. I feel like it will come down to if they win a National Championship as to whether they stay or not.

NJHAWK 8 years, 9 months ago

I remember that, too. I thought it was EJ not TT.

John Randall 8 years, 9 months ago

It might have been either – or Josh. Nobody who could use a hug and a kiss need look any farther than Angel Mom.

waywardJay 8 years, 9 months ago

It was Elijah, but could have been anyone on this team I truly believe. I think they would have even Kissed Jordan Jeunemann on the cheek if he hurt himself playing.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 9 months ago

Also, if the twins' 3 years in Lawrence have taught us anything about them as people, it's that they are just a couple of big kids who enjoy having fun and playing ball, and for the most part stay out of trouble.

Forget about the airsoft incident... that joke was just a freshman mistake. Just two brothers having a little fun before they start college, and they didn't realize that someone would really take it seriously.

Other than that, how have these guys made headlines off the court. I think Markieff wrecked Tyshawn's car once (which TT bought from Scott Pollard). Nothing came of it. I don't remember these guys having much of a role in the fights or anything like that. They've gotten some on-court flack for having wild elbows, but other than that they are good representatives of the team and the university.

I'm so happy for the brothers to be where they are, and so glad they stuck it out even when Coach Self put them through the grinder as underclassmen.

"One more year! One more year!"

keith horinek 8 years, 9 months ago

Don't forget about Markieff. They feed off each other. Don't ever leave one out of the equation. If you look at Markeiff's stats, he's not that far behind his brother in that regard. They come as a pair, don't ever forget that.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 9 months ago

It is great to read the account of Marcus' determination during the off-season, but hopefully he is feeling/becomes challenged relative to the games. Obviously, that isn't with respect to what he has produced, but relative to what he can be capable of. It would seem that there are still times when they are not as intent on getting rebounds as possible (see TRob), and it wasn't until just recently (see EJ) that the team (the Morrii are and need to be a focal point) really stepped up to play Self-D.

My guess is that Coach Self has even challenged them on this, and that it is one of the things they have denied, denied, de - oh, wait, I'm not getting rebounds the way TRob is, and he isn't any better than me. I'm not playing D as intensely as EJ, and he isn't any better than me.

Hopefully, they realize the distinction between playing good, great, and elite, because those are the 3 seasons. Good will win ball games in non-con, great will win Big12 championships, but to win tourneys requires elite effort. And elite effort, not elite abilitiy, or elite stats. Rebounds are about the only stat that will reveal elite effort, tho it is needed in so many other ways for the team to be elite/win championships.

They have heard Coach Self challenge them to give more, and questioned having more to give. Hopefully, they realize there is still more to give, not in the macro of "off-season training" or "workouts", but in the moment by moment, the focus of a split second that will allow them to get a rebound before another grabs it, or to move their feet instead of an arm and drawing a foul, ...

In the midst of and the moments of an athletic event, there is almost always a little more effort to give. A coach once said, "You don't need to worry about running so hard you'll die. You'll pass out first." Few people ever realize that. To be elite is to get closer than your opponent.

Ken Sedgwick 8 years, 9 months ago

Awesome Article. I just wish Coach Self would have duck taped Tyshawn Taylor to Marcus over the summer.

waywardJay 8 years, 9 months ago

I hav enoticed his freethrow stroke has improved greatly the past few games.... could just be my eyes, but I think someone told him he couldn't shoot free throws.

Funhawk 8 years, 9 months ago

If the twins never win another game for KU, they are still my heroes. Angel is the Jayhawk Mother of the Year. After reading this, and then reading the Star's similar article today about Thomas, you have even more admiration for our Hawks. Wins and losses aside, some of these young men go through more in life than most of us.

100 8 years, 9 months ago

It's our new troll below, 12steps twin, eagle64... Let's take a look tomorrow during the games & see when eagle64 is conveniently not posting..... Will he toggle his time between his team on TV & kusports just to prove us wrong? If so he is more in love with ku than he thought! This is turning very Freudian & he needs to see a therapist & get out of his mom's walk in closet A.S.A.P.

8 years, 9 months ago

A moment of silence as, sadly it would appear, our beloved troll eagle64 has shuffled off this mortal coil, along with his inane and inciteful gibberish. No doubt, a tradition started here long ago by charter troll phog, there will be more in the future taking his place, so at least we have that to look forward to.

Ludwig Supraphonic 8 years, 9 months ago

Still living in the boileroom with Rudy? Dreaming troll dreams of past ND glory. Glad you can troll on a winning programs website.

bad_dog 8 years, 9 months ago

OK, I had to look to find something exactly on point, but here you go:

http://yauponcreek.org/

Scroll down a bit to the second photo. You'll recognize it when you see it.

KU_FanSince75 8 years, 9 months ago

@ bad_dog----LMAO!!!!!!

You be a bad dog= a good dog in my book in response to that idiot troll.

cklarock 8 years, 9 months ago

"What other teams have bawled like that?"

Most other teams that have lost in a disappointing fashion with so much still to play for. In other words, teams from good programs.

I can't believe your mom has an internet hookup in her basement, or are you posting from her room?

8 years, 9 months ago

“If you were an athlete…”

Have you seen eagle64’s profile pic?

My guess is this troll will be going the way of jayinmomsbasement and 12schleps soon.

John Randall 8 years, 9 months ago

Only the teams with the right stuff where it counts. Not being able to cry when you need to is a greater weakness than quitting when times are tough.

Macho toughness is a shield to hide what you know is lacking somewhere between your neck and your groin.

waywardJay 8 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, real Men just take off their Jersey and immediate start moving their possessions to Miami.

Hell, Our Kids started Crying after winning to Texas AM.

It means something here, Sorry you are too pathetic to find anything in that. Go join a Florida Gator's fan page.... OH RIGHT...... Tim Tebow Cries too !

Adam Evans 8 years, 9 months ago

I was frustrated with both of the twins, and TT, and at times EJ, thinking they were too thuggish to wear a KU uniform and if their behavior was what represents KU, I didn't want them to win a championship because I didn't think they deserved it. As the season wore on, I started to see them in a different light. This article finished changing my outlook. It's hard to change who you are from where you grew up. The old adage of "you can take the boy out of ... but you can't take the... out of the boy" comes to mind. But the twins have done such a good job of not letting how they were brought up define who they are as men now. Marcus, you are our undisputed leader. Lead us to Houston. Come back with another title. You deserve it.

kthawk 8 years, 9 months ago

Good for you...thanks for giving this team a second chance!

kcglowboy 8 years, 9 months ago

Thanks, Jesse. What a GREAT piece of writing.

jaybate 8 years, 9 months ago

I am psyched to see board rats getting so excited about Jesse's writing.

Jesse was trying to move outside the box here a little.

Its great to see him get kudos from the board rats.

Go, Jesse, go!

KU_FanSince75 8 years, 9 months ago

@ jaybate----I couldn't agree more about Jesse's writing. Nice to see you post small and still make a good point---LOL.

JayCeph 8 years, 9 months ago

I loved this piece on Marcus.

I also found a good read this morning in the KCStar about T-Rob: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/03/09/2709761/kus-thomas-robinson-works-through.html

Gripping.

8 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for the article link, JayCeph. Another outstanding story about a great person.

Hank Cross 8 years, 9 months ago

I hope all those people who posted - 'I've been saying all season that the twins were Philly thugs who will cost us the NC' - after the KSU loss read this article. A few elbows in the heat of a tough game is not smart, but it doesn't make them thugs.

We will go as far as the twins will carry us. If someone figures out how to shutdown the twins in the tourney, that will be the last game of the season for KU. If no one figures out how to stop them, there's a good chance KU wins the NC.

John Randall 8 years, 9 months ago

I disagree if you mean we will ONLY go as far as the twins carry us.

The twins haven't been on the floor alone yet, and they won't be either. If your scenario of someone stopping them comes to pass, two or three (or six or eight) will be ready to jump into the gaps it would take to accomplish that stopping.

The worry of them stopping themselves is just a distant memory – development of self control and responsibility (thanks, Angel and Bill) has been just as great as physical strength (thanks, Andrea) and footwork (thanks, Danny).

A NC doesn't happen without some good fortune a few places along the route . . . as you say, KU'11 has a pretty good chance.

KU_FanSince75 8 years, 9 months ago

Well said, ralster, as most of the times, your posts are solid like a rock. A lot of Jayhawk posters would also, agree that if EJ can keep his game rolling, with the Twins having monster games, this team will find its way to Houston. It starts with Oklahoma State on Thursday!

Hank Cross 8 years, 9 months ago

At the beginning of the year, I was posting that this season was all about the twins and Selby. I included Selby based on Self's comment that he was the only one who could create his own shot, and that if something happened to the twins he coud pick up the slack. As Selby is now off his game, I have to take him out of the equation. Let's look for a moment if KU were to run into an opponent who had the inside players and/or defense to shut dow the twins.

First, a team that can shut down the twins will be able to shut down TRob and Mario as they are not as multi-dimensional as the twins.

Next, the perimeter players may have great difficulty picking up the slack. To wit: TT- an inconsistent outside shooter. Can slash, but will also force a bad shot or make a turnover. Selby - Depends if he can get back in the offensive groove and can figure out his role. Reed - Will occasionally take it to the hoop, but otherwise waits for an open jumpshot. Brady - Less offensively minded than Reed. Usually only scores when the offense is flowing. Cannot jumpstart the offense. EJ - Good with the 3 and in transition. Has all the skills to pick up the slack, but is he prepared enough to assume that role when the pressure is really on in the tourney? Travis - Due to the injury and limited playing time, we really don't know if he can bring it if the team needs an offensive punch.

JayDocMD 8 years, 9 months ago

Latest recruiting article on Braeden Anderson: http://theshiver.com/2011/03/kansas-visit-goes-great-for-anderson/

Pretty sure there is not room for Braeden, DeAndre AND Ben McClemore. Not that we won't have enough scholarships, but too much competetion at the 3. Sounds like Ben and/or DeAndre may lose there place in line if they don't commit soon. However it winds up, we must get at least one of these, and I would be excited to get 2 of the 3.

JayDocMD 8 years, 9 months ago

makes sense - Hadn't heard as much about Braeden and didn't know he projected to the 4. Still, makes you wonder if him signing would be the thing to steer BMac to MU or DD to TX. I hope not.

theonlychica 8 years, 9 months ago

Great article Jesse! Keep up the great work!

Lynn Wilson-Bruce 8 years, 9 months ago

Love the article! Rock Chalk ALL the WAY!!!!

HawksWin 8 years, 9 months ago

Great article. Thanks for reminding us players are people with heart & stories of their own. More human stories. Go Jayhawks!!!

The Twins are not thugs, do we know them at all? http://www.ncaatop25.com/morristwins.htm

Those who slammed Taylor, do we understand him? http://www.ncaatop25.com/taylor.htm

Those who doubted MStar, do you believe in him now? http://www.ncaatop25.com/morningstar.htm

100 8 years, 9 months ago

Marcus + Kief = Winners

Without Kief, there is no Marcus.... Without Marcus, there is no Kief.... They are so right too about not taking a day off.... This work regimen will ultimately be the difference...

You can tell, except for one game this year, our guys have been shooting in the gym, getting their shots silky smooth, understanding spacing....

What a treat to have both Kief & Marcus out there at the same time....

So many special things about this team, but this is certainly something we have that makes us very very very very very very difficult to defend against a team like Ohio State, Duke or UNC....

The beauty is...

The boys know how important it is now, to simply thrash the lower competition... That revamped beast mode by the entire team has been very apparent this year.

Our guys this year just seem to love basketball....

"I want to thank you in advance for the Jayhawk basketball parade & 100,000 of screaming fans you will be bringing to Lawrence in a few weeks...."

Rock Chalk Kief & Marcus

John Randall 8 years, 9 months ago

Well, Jesse, you're a good writer. Smart enough to use stats to make points. Careful enough to not go off some deep end or another in your articles. Lots of good qualities.

But when you buckle right down to do it, you can be downright awesome! I really feel fortunate to be one of the people you do it for.

Thanks.

IBRONNIEB 8 years, 9 months ago

One of the best stories of a KU player, I have ever read. I have always liked the twins. But like every one else would get frustrated at times, watching them play. (In the past) I had to remind myself they were underclassmen last year. But the change I saw in Marcus beginning last year, I see in his brother this year. They are the leaders of this team. This is their team. The other parts make it whole. But this team rises, or falls, with the twins leading the way. And to see how personally he takes the loss last year, makes it easy for me to respect him even more. This team is a family, more so than any other Jayhawk team I have ever seen. So how could you not root for all of them, each in his own way, to make us all proud. If you give everything you've got, championship or not, we'll all be proud of this team, and its twin leaders.RCJH

actorman 8 years, 9 months ago

"Marcus wrapped his arms around Henry, Robinson and Johnson and made a promise. 'It won’t happen again,' he said, as the teammates made their way out of the locker room....'I know' said Henry 'because I won't be here.'

That's COLD, KG! Funny as hell, but cold!

Seriously, Jesse, you should be really proud of yourself, you've written a real masterpiece here. This should be required reading at the beginning of every year when KU fans start judging the new players based on how they look, one mistake, something attributed to them, etc. It's always great to be reminded of how much some of these guys have to overcome, and it makes me love this team even more, which I didn't think was possible. FOE, baby!

FLJHK 8 years, 9 months ago

Given the late hour, few will even see this post. Nonetheless...

I truly appreciate the contibutions of virtually all of the posters on this site (there are a few sad exceptions, and we all recognize who they are), But with the vast majority there is remarkable insight, perspective, excellent writing, and a deep appreciation of the institution that is Kansas basketball. I love the game and loved playing it a few decades ago, (although never at a very high level). But in addition to simply enjoying the banter that goes on here, I also learn much about the game due to the knowledge of many of you.

We are truly blessed to be able to cheer on this unique team, this coaching staff and this university. Nowhere else could it possibly be so good.

I have to admit that every year for the past 25 I find a way to visualize a path to KU glory around this time, but it does feel particularly acute this year. I think it could be very special.

Rock Chalk!

KU_FanSince75 8 years, 9 months ago

That post has to be in the Top 10 posts of the year! Hey, FLJHK, yea, it's late, but I read your post. Damn glad I did because it was awesome! We are blessed---totally agree! Rock Chalk.

Kenny Nall 8 years, 9 months ago

I was devastated that cold March day, so I hope it doesn't happen again.

FLJHK 8 years, 9 months ago

100 and KU Fan - thanks. I truly appreciate your sentiments.

klbranstetter 8 years, 9 months ago

It has been remarkable to see Marcus and Markieff develop since they came to KU in 2008. When they were freshmen, Marcus and Markieff's play frustrated the hell out of me. I am very happy to see that Marcus receive a lot of recognition including AP Player of the Year! :) Thanks for a great article on Marcus, LJWorld!

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