Kansas University freshman Marcus Morris made the best out of a bad situation midway through the first half of Friday’s rout of Coppin State in Allen Fieldhouse.
The 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward — who missed a pair of layups on successive possessions in a span of 37 seconds — at least grabbed his own rebound and scored both times.
Did salvaging four points out of the flurry make him feel better?
“No,” the Philadelphia freshman said with a smile, “because I already know coach (Bill Self) is going to be on me. He wants me to make the shot, to put it in.”
He finished with six points off 2-of-7 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds while playing 18 minutes in the Jayhawks’ 85-53 victory over the Eagles.
“It’s still two points, but if I could make the first one I could have my teammates get an assist,” Morris said.
Morris, who has started three of KU’s five games, takes a 7.4 scoring, 7.0 rebounding average into today’s 8 p.m. home battle against (3-2) Kent State.
He has made 45.7 percent of his shots, his percentage not helped by bricking the two above-mentioned gimmies.
“I told coach I think it was something on the rim. Every time I put the ball in, it just came back out,” Morris said. “I don’t know what it was. Coach told me I need to finish that because in bigger games in the Big 12 Conference I won’t be able to get my own misses half the time. I need to start finishing a lot more and play a lot more about the rim than just trying to lay it up.”
Morris’ teammates have teased him about him padding his own rebound stats.
“We joke around with him a little bit, (but) it’s something that needs to be taken care of. Obviously he can’t miss those shots,” junior point guard Sherron Collins said. “Especially in a game like Texas we’ve got to have those baskets.”
Self sees both positives and negatives in what happened to Morris.
“You always are happy to get a basket,” KU’s sixth-year coach said. “Certainly he has to play bigger than what he’s played as far as finishing around the rim. He’s a good shooter, but he hasn’t finished as strong as what he can. None of our big guys have. You can make a case for Markieff (Morris) and Quintrell (Thomas) not finishing strong around the rim. They’ll get there. They are just young.”
Self has asked his Jayhawks (4-1) to be more aggressive.
“He talks to me about toughness and being meaner,” Marcus Morris said. “I think it’s something he needs us all to do. We are young, and we don’t know a lot about the game and other teams. Other teams are very tough. I think he wants us to be meaner at practice, going against each other.”
Marcus said he has learned a lot by going against sophomore big man Cole Aldrich every day.
“Cole is tough. He’s strong. He dunks a lot. He does what he does in practice in the game,” Marcus Morris said. “He’s a great person to try to follow. You’ll get tougher by following him.”
Marcus was asked if the solution inside offensively was simply to copy Cole and dunk everything in sight.
“I got to dunk a lot in high school,” Marcus said. “This is a totally different game, a new speed. Guys are a lot stronger. I’m used to dunking. Maybe I need to do it more in practice, so I get used to it a lot more.”