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Recap: Morris twins' rebounding just as valuable as their points against Iowa State

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Note: Here is a listing of definitions for some terms used in this blog. Also, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below if something doesn't make sense.

Marcus Morris' 33 points in Kansas' 84-79 victory over Iowa State on Wednesday night will steal most of the headlines, but his (and his brother, Markieff's) rebounding was just as important in the Jayhawks' win.

No, Iowa State doesn't have a lot of size. But in a game that had a season-high 81 possessions, the Morris twins completely blocked the Cyclones off the boards. http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2011/jan/12/33886/

Iowa State grabbed just 17.1 percent of the available offensive rebounds against KU — its worst percentage against any team in the last two seasons.

Consider also that the Morris twins did most of that rebounding by themselves, as Thomas Robinson played just six minutes against Iowa State.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris fights for a rebound with Iowa State guard Darion Anderson during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris fights for a rebound with Iowa State guard Darion Anderson during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

If KU gave a dangerous shooting team like ISU even three or four more second chances, the game had the potential to turn out differently.

Instead, it was the Morris twins production the defensive glass — along with their offensive contributions — that led the Jayhawks to a victory in a tough road environment.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

It's Marcus Morris. And his statistics were in the superstar range against Iowa State.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris turns for a shot over Iowa State forward Jamie Vanderbeken during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. In front is Kansas forward Mario Little.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris turns for a shot over Iowa State forward Jamie Vanderbeken during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. In front is Kansas forward Mario Little. by Nick Krug

The 6-foot-9 forward posted 1.39 points per possession used, while taking on a huge number of possessions for KU (34.7 percent possessions used). The more shots a player takes, the harder it is to keep his efficiency up, as he's taking tougher and tougher shots. You'll hardly ever see a player with an offensive rating that high while using that many of his team's possessions.

Marcus also had arguably his best rebounding game as a Jayhawk, pulling down 7.4 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 32.5 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

His 33 points and 13 rebounds were both career-highs in just 27 minutes.

Then again, you guys already knew to expect a big game from him, right?

Room for Improvement

I'm going to give the Jayhawks a pass on their free-throw shooting. KU only made 19 of 31 on Wednesday (61.3 percent), but it had shot above 69 percent from the line in each of its previous five games. In fact, in KU's last six games, it's still shooting 73.7 percent from the line (98 of 133).

Instead, we'll look at three-point shooting, where KU struggled for the second straight game.

From left, Kansas players Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar, Marcus Morris, Mario Little and Josh Selby come together after a timeout against Iowa State during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

From left, Kansas players Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar, Marcus Morris, Mario Little and Josh Selby come together after a timeout against Iowa State during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks made just 5 of 19 threes against Iowa State (26.3 percent) after making 4 of 24 against Michigan (16.7 percent).

Before the last two games, KU's worst three-point shooting in a game this year was 31.3 percent against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Honestly, I think most of KU's three-pointers in the last two games have been open shots, so it's hard to criticize too much. Most likely, the Jayhawks have just hit a bit of a slump after shooting well from the perimeter early.

Then again, it might be in KU's best interest to force-feed the ball inside like it did most of the second half against Iowa State. The Jayhawks are leading the nation in two-point percentage (59 percent), and playing inside-out is less risky (though also potentially less rewarding).

The main concern for KU might not be the three-pointers it's getting, but instead the struggles of the three-point shooters it has. Brady Morningstar (26.7 percent, 1-for-3 Wednesday), Tyshawn Taylor (27.8 percent, 0-for-3 Wednesday) and even to an extent Tyrel Reed (34.2 percent, 1-for-3 Wednesday) don't have the three-point percentages that KU might have expected from them at the beginning of the year.

Tough-Luck Line

Thomas Robinson hasn't been the same player since missing the UMKC game.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson goes up for a rebound with Iowa State guard Diante Garrett during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson goes up for a rebound with Iowa State guard Diante Garrett during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Robinson was his usual active self in six minutes against Iowa State, but unfortunately, most of that activity was negative for KU.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore posted just 0.31 points per possession used while ending a high number of possessions (32.9 percent).

Robinson once again struggled with turnovers, tying the team-high with three in just six minutes. Though he made his only field-goal attempt and had three rebounds and a steal, it's still not enough to make up for the giveaways.

Though KU coach Bill Self hinted on Tuesday that Mario Little might not play much, the coach was forced to put him out there 19 minutes because of Robinson's struggles.

Kansas forward Mario Little looks for an outlet from the floor as he is pressured by Iowa State guard Scott Christopherson during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas forward Mario Little looks for an outlet from the floor as he is pressured by Iowa State guard Scott Christopherson during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Robinson is KU's best rebounder, but until he takes better care of the ball, it's going to be difficult for Self to put him out there over some safer options in Big 12 games.

Bottom Line

The Jayhawks might not have shot a good percentage from the free-throw line, but their ability to get there helped them top the Cyclones.

KU's free-throw rate (free throws/field goal attempts) was 48.4, which was much higher than ISU, which had a free-throw rate of 14.1 (second-lowest of the year).

On its second straight poor shooting night, KU won by limiting the Cyclones' second-chance opportunities, playing pretty good perimeter defense (ISU shot 28.1 percent from three, 10 percent below its season average) and getting the ball to Marcus Morris.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris (22) clenches his fists as he and twin brother Markieff head back on defense after a Jayhawk bucket against Iowa State during the second half. Marcus had 33 points and Markieff 17 in the Jayhawks’ 84-79 victory Wednesday in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris (22) clenches his fists as he and twin brother Markieff head back on defense after a Jayhawk bucket against Iowa State during the second half. Marcus had 33 points and Markieff 17 in the Jayhawks’ 84-79 victory Wednesday in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Though the Jayhawks didn't have a lot of guys that performed well Wednesday, Marcus and Markieff ended up being good enough to carry their team to the win.

Comments

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 5 months ago

Who cares?!?!? Matt tait has been found!!!!!!!!!!!!

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 5 months ago

don't have the specifics but i think he was in a chilean mine for a couple of days. ta-ta-ta, it-it-it, los mineros de tait

jhox 11 years, 5 months ago

I thought Marcus' all around game last night was in the top 3 or 4 individual performances by a KU player that I've seen, having watching KU religiously since 1977. He was an absolute monster (the most impressive game I've seen...Manning in the '88 championship game. To have that kind of game was impressive enough. To do it in the title game, carrying a team that was less talented like that...off the charts impressive.)

I attribute the shooting woes from 3 point land to the road environment. We've not played many road games, and it's amazing what different backgrounds can do to a shooters depth perception. We'll come around in that respect.

As long as the Morris twins can have their way with a defense, like they did last night, by all means pound the ball inside. Don't expect every interior defense to be that easy to score on though. Their defense was as weak inside as ours was on the perimeter.

Scott Smetana 11 years, 5 months ago

Great article.

I thought 2 of TRob's fouls were bogus, especially on the rebound where he touched no one. I'm surprised to see him get the bench so much. That said, I was very impressed with Little's confidence in playing so much.

I hope the Twins can enter Beast mode against a great team.

Hmmm... Most dominating performances in the last 20 years... hmm. Nick Collison vs. Texas Julian Wright at Mizzery More???

Ben Kane 11 years, 5 months ago

most dominating performance i've ever seen was Durant in the phog for the first half. he got any shot he wanted and he made them all. i'm still amazed we won that game.

jhox 11 years, 5 months ago

I was there for that one too...by far the greatest half of basketball I've ever seen someone have.

Ron Franklin 11 years, 5 months ago

that was amazing...i couldn't believe what i was seeing that day when durant went off......and it was even better that the hawks stormed back to win that game.

jhox 11 years, 5 months ago

Great performances, no doubt, but Manning's championship game line, against probably the most talented team in the country that year included 31 points, 18 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 blocked shots. He did that with the other team focused primarily on stopping him, in the most important game of the season.

Jared Grillot 11 years, 5 months ago

Sometimes you don't bench them because they are fouling a lot, sometimes you bench them because you can tell the refs are laying into them. If the refs are obviously going to call against him even when he's clean, then why leave him in to foul out? Get him out for a while so the refs turn their attention elsewhere, then bring him back later.

Greg Lux 11 years, 5 months ago

I am going to give T-Rob the label of "Hard luck player of the year" ( I know its less then 2 weeks old ). T-Rob has gotten more bad foul calls then any Jayhawk so far this year. His last foul last night was totally unreal. He didn't touch the guy and the ref ( behind him of course ) racked him up. To T-Robs credit he took it like a man and just held his head in disbelief. When he needs time on the court it seem he can't draw a break. T-Rob keep up the good work and I know you will get your deserved breaks.

Rock Chalk

Alohahawk 11 years, 5 months ago

I still feel Josh is playing out of position, and if he were playing the point he would do better on his drives. This is not to take anything away from Taylor. He still adds a lot and we need him on the court, It's just that Selby always played the point in high school. He might shoot better 3's from the top of the key as well. Some players have a preference for certain places on the court. And he might be better starting the three with the ball in his hands already, instead of catch and shoot. One other thing. We're always trying for the inside lob, so there are always plenty of players clogging the middle, both offensive and defensive. If a guard tries to drive, he's going to have to wend his way through a lot of traffic. This probably wasn't the case for Selby in high school. Only speculating.

It was disappointing that the Hawks missed so many freethrows. Perhaps it was because a fan was flashing a very large (looked 3 foot square on TV) blank, shiny posterboard behind the backboard when the Hawks were shooting freethrows. Only saw it a few times but when I first saw it I thought it might be reflecting light into the shooter's eyes.

As for the general background, look at all the pictures. It must have seemed like the game was being played in a large bowl of buttered popcorn.

Congartulations to the team, and especially the Morris twins. Great game. I've been waiting for Marcus to start driving more. He appeared to have more room to drive than our guards, which would make sense if you think of what I said before: Less people in the middle clogging up the lanes. Remember how the Arizona power forward (forget his name) kept powering into the middle. That's how it's done in the NBA, so if you have NBA asperations, keep it up. It will be money in the bank.

Alohahawk 11 years, 5 months ago

Forgot to mention one other thing. We turned the ball over on outlet passes a number of times. With at least three of our players (sometimes four) flashing down the court on a fast break, ISU stole the ball and made at least two quick three pointers, and about eight other points because we only had one defender, the guy who threw the bad outlet pass, back to defend. Those outlet passes were all lazy and had little chance to reach our player(s). This will spell doom against a team like Missery, which thrives on bad passing.

texasdochawk 11 years, 5 months ago

That guy was Kief, and those were very, very lazy plays on his part.

C'mon MAN!!!

jayhawker_97 11 years, 5 months ago

Jesse, what makes you think: "If KU gave a dangerous shooting team like ISU even three or four more second chances, the game had the potential to turn out differently."

KUFan90 11 years, 5 months ago

KU won by 5 points. If ISU got 3-4 more offensive rebounds, they might have turned them into 5 or more points thus potentially resulting in a different turn out.

Jesse Newell 11 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, pretty much what KUFan90 said. Shooting a lot of threes is a riskier way to play, but it can be more rewarding. Also, after an offensive rebound, many times defenders are out of position, leaving players more open for threes.

jayhawker_97 11 years, 5 months ago

oh, and thanks for the analysis, i always enjoy reading it.

REHawk 11 years, 5 months ago

Thanks again for another fine article, Jesse. Your efficiency percentage breakdowns are always enlightening.

David Shaw 11 years, 5 months ago

"The more shots a player takes, the harder it is to keep his efficiency up, as he's taking tougher and tougher shots."

Why do more shots = tougher shots?

Jesse Newell 11 years, 5 months ago

If a player takes a higher percentage of his team's shots, that means he's passing up fewer shots. Consequently, he's also taking more difficult shots instead of passing to teammates. This is more of a general rule than anything.

It makes sense if you think about it: The great NBA players (Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant) have/had high shot totals because they took both easy and difficult shots. Both of their efficiencies could have been better had they passed up on the tough shots, but there is something to be said for being a go-to player and taking pressure off your teammates by taking most of the scoring responsibility.

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