Archive for Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Reserves good, but Morris twins key for KU basketball — again

February 8, 2011


KU vs. Missouri

Kansas players Travis Releford, Marcus Morris and Mario Little addressed the media after defeating Missouri 103-86 on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 103-86 victory over Missouri on Feb. 7, 2011.

Thomas Robinson and Brady Morningstar, the sixth and seventh men when the team is at full strength, were a big part of the story Saturday in Lincoln, Neb., when Kansas University looked so smooth in hammering Nebraska. Most of the talk centered on Mario Little and Travis Releford, the eighth and ninth men on the team in Monday night’s impressive 103-86 victory against Missouri in Allen Fieldhouse, and rightly so.

Still, no matter which supporting players stand out on any given night, nothing ever really changes. It’s Marcus and Markieff Morris, the junior twin brothers from Philadelphia, who make Kansas such a nightmare to face.

They not only give KU the huge advantage going into nearly every game, each post player has an advantage on his man in nearly every offensive skill the game demands.

Most obviously, they pass the ball far better than most post players. Trap them, as Missouri did Markieff, and watch him fire the ball to the opposite corner that resulted in three points. Double Marcus and watch Markieff sprint to the basket for an easy bucket on a pass from his brother.

“This team is not a great passing team individually, but because Marcus and Markieff are so advanced skill-set-wise, we really give the appearance of being a team that can really pass it,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We can play through our bigs in our half-court offense with people not really thinking we’re playing through our bigs because they’re so good when they catch the ball in certain situations.”

They make their teammates look better, just as Todd Reesing did during his remarkable career as KU’s quarterback. They do the things for Kansas that point guards usually do for teams.

Former NBA star Paul Pressey, a teammate of Missouri coach Mike Anderson at Tulsa, played in such a way as to inspire the invention of a new position: point forward. The Morris twins, playing in a game that featured two of Pressey’s sons playing on the perimeter for the opposition, played like point posts. Their passing radar is just one of the ways they set themselves apart.

Never do the Morris twins play a game in which the other post players have better hands than they have. They catch everything thrown to them and don’t bobble rebounds.

Rare is the college basketball post player who can blow by his man on the dribble as easily as Marcus does. On most nights, they have a big advantage on their men as inside scorers, because of their strength and quickness, and on the perimeter, because of their shooting touches.

Most big men have trouble keeping up with them running the floor, which is a big reason Kansas doesn’t get burned by three-pointers in defensive transition, and a factor in the twins doing so well at establishing inside position on offense.

Their superb body control and clever footwork make them better than most at drawing fouls.

Too often, big men look as if they play the game because they’re tall and somebody told them they needed to put that height to use. The Morris twins look as if they play the game because they were born thinking it, so why not play it? Smart players.

Missouri held Marcus scoreless the first 10 minutes of the game, and he finished with a game-high 22 points to go with eight rebounds (five offensive) and three assists. Markieff, showing a hook shot that’s looking better all the time and a desire to make himself feared at the defensive end, pitched in with 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. Combined, they made 13 of 17 field goals.

The 19th-ranked Tigers (18-6 overall, 4-5 in the Big 12) shot the ball well (51.7 percent), took good care of the basketball (eight turnovers). Their guards showed they are quicker with the ball than the KU guards are defending it. They did a lot of things that winning teams usually do, but like most teams, Mizzou had no answer for the twins.

Once Marcus established himself in the paint, Kansas steadily pulled away.

“I felt like in the first half I was very ineffective, and coach told me at halftime, ‘Play like an All-American, play like people expect you to play.’ So I just tried to play hard and these guys backed me up,” said Marcus, who had 17 points in KU’s 57-point second half.

Kansas shot .667 in the second 20 minutes.

“Coach said, ‘Get it down low, get it down low, get it down low,’ in the second half,” Marcus said. “That’s what he was saying because he just felt like we weren’t doing that in the first half. We weren’t getting their bigs in foul trouble. I felt like we did that real well in the second half.”

So well, in fact, that Ricardo Ratliffe and Laurence Bowers, Missouri’s starting post players, combined for seven personal fouls. Marcus went to the line 12 times in the second half. He only made seven of them, keeping KU from topping the 60 mark in a second half in which the team he leads looked frighteningly good.

Interactive Timeline

2010-11 KU men's basketball timeline


jonas_opines 4 years, 8 months ago

The Morris twins rock. Now they just need to watch for those stupid elbows.

jonas_opines 4 years, 8 months ago

If that hadn't happened on our floor, Markieff would have been bounced for sure. Not that it would have mattered last night, but it would another.

ralphralph 4 years, 8 months ago

Markieff played well ... except for the part where he punched the guy in the face and should have been ejected and suspended ... or at least benched by his coaches. Bill Self has set a new, lower standard for his team ... hope it doesn't cost them in the tourney with someone getting thrown out of a game because of a lesson not learned.

C'mon, Coach. Man up. It's your job to teach these kids how to be men. Putting 'Kief back in that game was selfish on your part ... you wanted him in their to help YOU, but you knew he should be on the bench, or even in the locker room.

Bad night for standards.

anonyname 4 years, 8 months ago

Agreed. Despite their impressive play 95% of the time, both Morris brothers seem to have become cheap shot artists. It reflects poorly on Self that Markieff returned to the game.

Speaking of standards, it also reflects poorly on the Journal-World that the incident was not even mentioned in the article.

mom_of_three 4 years, 8 months ago

The elbow stuff happens at all levels, although it shouldn't. Tempers flair, although you would hope college age would blow it off. There was a recent high school game, where player a grabbed the ball from player b, and it should have been a jump, but they called the foul. Player A let go, turned her back, and player b threw an elbow. They called a T, and it was lucky the back was turned or it would have been a jaw or chest. And I didn't think Kief's was as bad as I saw in the high school game

Janet Olin 4 years, 8 months ago

Let's give Brady credit for another smooth and productive performance. And how about Mario and Travis, focused and polished at just the right time for tonight's game? We need their talents, as they showcased tonight, to shine the rest of the season for a stellar finish. I wish Coach could persuade the Bigs to put their arms up on defense instead of just watching the other team play around them.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 8 months ago

Markieff's actions were somewhere between silly and stupid, and the technical foul was appropriate. But it looked to me that he was mostly just continuing the shoving match between himself and the Missouri player, and trying to create some separation. He was out of control, so it very nearly turned into a punch, but I don't think that's what he intended it to be.

Nevertheless, he needs to play under better control. It didn't cost them this game, but it very well might the next time around.

BradWesley 4 years, 8 months ago

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hammerhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

Go Hawks. Hate mu. Markieff needs to remember he's playing at Kansas.

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