The tallest available player on Kansas University’s basketball team was the Jayhawks’ most effective three-point bomber Tuesday night.
Power forward/center Markieff Morris, who stands 6-foot-10 and weighs 245 pounds, knocked down two threes in two tries in the Jayhawks’ 92-62 rout of Washburn in Allen Fieldhouse.
“I feel like I shot it pretty well in pre-game. Coach doesn’t get mad at me for shooting them, so I let it fly,” shrugged Morris, who said his stroke “feels the same,” as a year ago when he hit 10 of 19 threes for 52.6 percent.
“There’s just more of a green light to shoot them,” added Morris, who once hit 10 treys in a game during the 2007-08 season at Apex Academy prep school in Pennsauken, N.J.
Morris — he made just three of 16 from beyond the arc his frosh season at KU before heating up his sophomore season — has proven to his coach he can stretch the defense, even past the 20-foot, 9-inch stripe.
“He’ll shoot more threes this year because he’ll play more,” KU coach Bill Self said of Morris, who averaged 17.6 minutes a game last season.
“He doesn’t need to fall in love with it. There was a time last year he was shooting 60 percent from three. That balances out over time. He’s a very capable three-point shooter,” Self added. “If he’s in there with Marcus, you could almost post your guards because they would be two of your best perimeter shooters.”
Markieff’s brother, Marcus, iced one of two threes Tuesday on a night the twins made three of four to their teammates’ one of 15.
“Kieff did great,” Marcus said of his twin who finished with 12 points off 5-of-8 shooting. “We know he can shoot. We know he’s a good player. “He always played behind Cole (Aldrich). Cole was an All-American and a great player. He’s never had a chance. This year I think he’ll prove a lot of people wrong and step up to the challenge,” Marcus added.
Markieff had eight rebounds, coming mighty close to a double double in just 22 minutes played against the Ichabods.
“For sure,” Markieff said of his goal being a double-double every game. “If I don’t get double-doubles every game, I think we’ll lose the rebounding stats. It’s important I get them.”
Self agrees Morris must rule the paint.
“He has become more of a post player to me,” Self said. “He understands he can score on the block, uses his body, has a nice body. He has some things that are really hard to guard from a move standpoint and a size standpoint. I think he’s finally understanding how to use his body in relationship to what he’s got.
“He’s got a good butt. That sounds bad to say, but I mean it’s hard to get around. He’s learned how to utilize that body better than years past,” Self added.
Markieff has lost out to his brother — a preseason all-Big 12 pick — in the publicity department thus far in 2010-11.
“I think Marcus to me has been a little ahead of ’Kieff in people’s minds throughout his basketball career. We’re talking a smidge,” Self said. “When you have Cole as a starter, you probably will play somebody a little more versatile or a truer four man, so to speak, and that’s what we did (last year). ’Kieff is good and his attitude has been unreal. Because he hasn’t played that many minutes, this year you’ll say, ‘That kid is really talented.’’’
Markieff threw a scare into the fieldhouse fans in the second half Tuesday. He collapsed to the floor in obvious pain, not because of injury, but a cramp.
“I had a sleeve on it (calf), which made it hurt 10 times worse than it really would have otherwise,” Markieff said. “It’s a shin protector. I’m done with it,” he added, with a laugh.
As far as his quick comeback from Oct. 21 hernia surgery, Morris said: “Rehab went pretty fast. I’m still not 100 percent, but good to go.”
Self knew Markieff’s rehab would go well. He and Marcus have emerged as two of the hardest workers on the team.
“From a work ethic standpoint of the twins ... we had to adjust some things throughout their first year here, just to make sure they could finish,” Self said. “Now they are at the point they have become leaders by example as much as voice.”
Loud building: ESPN the Magazine this week ranks Allen Fieldhouse the loudest arena in college basketball, ahead of Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“Not only does Kansas welcome a high percentage of campus kids, it keeps them close to the action, too,” ESPN writes.
“Notice the seats. They have no padded backs to absorb the crowd clamor. The Phog is filled with aluminum bleachers that are made for stomping, not to mention reflecting the eerie strains of ‘Rock Chalk Jayhawk’ after yet another home ‘W.’
“Unlike most modern domes, the fieldhouse roof is fairly flat and hangs relatively close to the floor. Plus, there are no sound panels attached to the ceiling. So sonic booms bounce around rather than getting swallowed up,” the magazine adds.