Boston U. coach, Morris twins share Philadelphia roots

Brother Markieff (21) and Marcus Morris wait to check in during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

Brother Markieff (21) and Marcus Morris wait to check in during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

As a Philadelphia native and basketball fan, Boston University men’s basketball coach Patrick Chambers always has been fond of Marcus and Markieff Morris, Kansas University’s twin brothers from the City of Brotherly Love.

But the reasons for Chambers’ admiration for the Morris twins goes beyond all three having the same hometown and understanding what it means to be from Philly. Chambers, a former Villanova assistant who worked under VU head coach Jay Wright, actually tried to recruit the Morris brothers to ’Nova a few years ago.

“I really enjoyed meeting them,” Chambers said Tuesday, recalling his efforts to entice the twins to stay home. “I really enjoyed following their careers. We had them on campus. Their mom, Angel, is terrific. Their coaches were great. They were a lot of fun and it’s gonna be a lot of fun seeing them. They’re great kids, they’re hard workers, they love to play.”

That signature style has served the Morris twins well throughout their careers at KU, as they’ve grown from talented, undisciplined freshmen into team leaders and all-conference performers. Three years ago, they arrived at Kansas foreigners in a foreign land. Today, they’re as much the face of Kansas basketball as anybody on the team. As Chambers was quick to point out, they’re also pretty darn good.

“They play with a chip on their shoulder, like they’re out to prove something every single day,” Chambers said. “And, when you have kids like that, it’s tough to wear them down, it’s tough to beat them down. They just keep coming, they don’t give up. That’s really a Philly type of attitude.”

Chambers would know. In addition to being born and raised in the largest city in Pennsylvania, Chambers played his college ball at Philadelphia University, a Div. II program coached by Herb Magee. After joining the team as a walk-on, Chambers became the starting point guard and left the as the all-time assists leader.

Seeing how his love of his hometown runs deep, it comes as no surprise that four players on BU’s roster list Philadelphia as their hometown. Though three of the four are freshmen, Chambers has high hopes for their development because of their upbringing.

“I’d like to think our young kids have (the same tenacity as KU’s twins), but it’s not up to the Morrises’ level yet,” Chambers said. “The Morrises are a lot older and a lot more talented, too.”

Although the Morris twins will bring combined averages of 30.9 points, 15.4 rebounds, 59 percent shooting from the field and 38 percent shooting from three-point range into Friday’s matchup, Chambers said he was looking forward to catching up with the twins, no matter what the outcome.

“I saw Marcus in Vegas (in 2010) because Jay Wright coached that (USA Basketball select team that Morris played for),” Chambers said. “It’ll be fun to see these guys again.”

Both the twins and KU coach Bill Self are familiar with Chambers, as well.

Said Marcus Morris of his relationship with Chambers: “He’s a great guy.”

Added Self: “He was there trying to get the twins, too, when he was working with Jay (Wright). He was there some of the times we were there. Marcus and ’Kieff are so familiar with them and their staff. He’s done well to win so many games. He’s off to a great start for sure.”

During his two seasons at BU, Chambers has faced a handful of powerhouse programs. Few, however, have had the kind of resume the Morris twins and the Jayhawks bring into Friday’s clash at 5:50 p.m. at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. Chambers is doing his best to prepare for it.

“It’s tough to do in practice, but we’ve got to do the best we can to simulate that,” he said. “The Morris twins are very physical and tough. I know them well. Nobody really talks about (KU guards) Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar (and) what those guys bring to the table, IQ and their shooting ability. They’ve got some depth, too.”