Archive for Saturday, July 19, 2008

Morris twins show off skills in K.C. league

July 19, 2008

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— Kansas University freshman Markieff Morris, who had already swished a pair of NBA three-pointers, let fly from 23-feet, 9 inches with :03 remaining in Thursday night's Kansas City Pro-Am game at Penn Valley Community College.

The 6-foot-10 Morris' well-guarded attempt, hoisted with his Moon Wolf team trailing Livin' The Dream, 87-85, air-balled into the hands of Haskell Indian Nations University guard John Tarbell, whose basket and ensuing free throw with 0.4 seconds left gave Markieff, his brother Marcus and several Haskell players a hard-earned 88-87 victory.

Markieff's late miss could have been mistaken for a pass ... yet it wasn't one, he confessed.

"It was a shot. It definitely was a shot," Markieff said, laughing. "It was great he (Tarbell) caught it and put it in. It feels good to get back on the court and win."

Markieff and his 6-foot-81â2 twin brother Marcus, who arrived from Philadelphia in late June, were added to the roster of Haskell's summer league team this week and made their debuts before about 100 fans Thursday night.

It seems the twins have bonded not only with their KU teammates who are in town for summer school, but their new buddies from Haskell as well.

"It's a lot of fun playing with the Haskell players. They are good players, good guys, play hard and push us to play harder," Markieff Morris said. "Sometimes I'll be slacking, walking up the court and they say, 'C'mon.' They make big shots and play like a team."

The Morris twins - Marcus is ranked No. 29 and Markieff 50 in the Class of 2008 by Rivals.com - lived up to the hype Thursday, admittedly on a much smaller stage than what awaits them this fall in major college basketball.

Markieff hit nine of 20 shots and two of two free throws, good for 22 points and seven rebounds. Marcus hit eight of 19 shots and five of seven free throws good for 21 points (no threes) and nine rebounds.

"It felt good. I hadn't played in a real, officiated game in a long time," Marcus said. "It felt good to get out there. I was a little winded. As we go more and more, I'll get better."

Both showed why they are regarded as future Big 12 standouts.

l Markieff, who weighs 230 pounds, showed a nice touch from the outside, evidenced by his two treys, and also had some nice interior moves followed by five- to eight-foot jumpers.

"I am a 4 (power forward)," Markieff said. "Whatever coach (Bill Self) needs me to do, I'll do, whether rebound, block shots, be a defensive presence I'll do that. If he needs me to score, I'll be an offensive presence."

l Marcus, who weighs 220 pounds, didn't drift past the NBA three-point line, but showed a soft touch on 15- to 18-footers. He also drove the baseline and lane several times for layups and floaters.

"One (point guard) to 4, I'll do it," Marcus said. "My strength is I'm very versatile. I need to work on my jump shot more and getting to the hole."

The twins on Thursday were interested in getting each other easy baskets.

"It's crazy. I know when he is going to shoot the ball," Marcus said. "I'll wink at him. That means he's going up for an (alley) oop. I know where he's going to be on the court because we've played together so long."

Markieff noted: "If anybody feels twins can feel each other on the court, they really can. If he is behind me, I can feel him back there. It's a great feeling knowing where he is all the time."

Haskell coach Ted Juneau, who watched Thursday's game from the stands, sees great things to come from the twins.

"They have great upside," Juneau said. "Physically they have great bodies and they have all the tools. They are going to learn a lot of things in the next three months.

"They are so athletic, with great quickness," Juneau added. "Again as we watch KU basketball, we get used to that size and quickness all the time. What they need to do and will learn to do is play hard all the time."

The twins have not yet qualified academically. Marcus explained that the two are currently finishing work on a high school course. They will not learn whether they are qualified or not until after the course is completed, graded and shipped to the NCAA clearinghouse with their SAT scores.

"We're down to the last parts of it. We'll get done with it real soon. It should be finished by the end of the month," Marcus said. KU coach Self said he expects the pair to be eligible this season.

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Case to join KU staff: Look for former Kansas University guard Jeremy Case to soon be named graduate student manager on KU coach Self's staff. Sources close to the program indicate Case will be the choice to replace Michael Lee, who recently was hired as a full-time assistant at Gardner-Webb.

"Nothing has been finalized," Self said. It's expected Case's hiring will be announced in early August.

A member of last year's NCAA title team, Case had a five-year KU career, red-shirting in 2004-05. The McAlester, Okla., native has said many times he wishes to get into coaching like his dad, Win, head coach at Redlands Community College in El Reno, Okla.

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Vegas update: Former KU forward Darnell Jackson scored four points off 2-of-2 shooting and grabbed four rebounds in the Cleveland Cavaliers' 72-69 loss to Washington on Friday in Las Vegas summer league action. Jackson missed four free throws without a make while playing 23 minutes.

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