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Tag:Marcus Morris
Posted on: February 22, 2011 7:01 am
 

The Morning Drive: 'Nova's shooting struggles

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Although the main news in the basketball world on Monday was the trade of Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks, we here at Eye on College Basketball don’t dabble in the professional game. On the college hardwood, there were a couple of big games and some other noteworthy results. As always, contact me @jeffborzello

Top Performer: With Tyshawn Taylor out for Kansas against a desperate Oklahoma State team, forward Marcus Morris stepped up with 27 points and five rebounds to lead the Jayhawks to a 92-65 win. He shot 9-for-13 from the field and even knocked down three 3-pointers. Two of his shots from behind the arc came during a decisive stretch in the first half in which Oklahoma State also went six minutes without a field goal.

Stat-Sheet Stuffer: Andrew Goudelock gets all the attention for Charleston, but it was Antwaine Wiggins who stole the show Monday night. Wiggins shot 10-for-13 from the field, knocking down four 3-pointers, and finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists in a 75-49 win over Samford. With the win, Charleston clinched the Southern Conference regular-season title.

In a Losing Effort: In his first game back after missing three contests with a turf toe injury, Villanova guard Corey Stokes hit five 3-pointers and finished with 24 points in a 69-64 home loss to Syracuse. The devastating loss – for double-bye purposes, at least – was certainly not Stokes’ fault, as the rest of the Wildcats shot 0-for-21 from behind the arc. For Syracuse, Scoop Jardine led the charge with 20 points and six assists.

Filling it up: Potentially the biggest winner on Monday was Butler, which now has a great shot at getting a double-bye in the Horizon League tournament after Green Bay defeated Valparaiso in overtime, 81-80. Green Bay’s Alec Brown went for 22 points and 12 rebounds, leading the Phoenix to their first win since January 30.

Set the DVR: There are several interesting games on the docket tonight. Illinois travels to Ohio State in a game that would certainly enhance its at-large hopes. The Buckeyes are looking to bounce back after their second loss in three games. In the SEC, Tennessee will look to lock up a bid and get to above .500 in the SEC with a road trip at Vanderbilt. The biggest bubble battle of them all will be Michigan State at Minnesota – the loser is in serious trouble.

Numbers Don’t Lie:

  • Villanova’s five 3-pointers – all by Corey Stokes – on 26 attempts were the fewest the Wildcats made when shooting at least 25 3-pointers since they went 5-for-26 at West Virginia on Jan. 3, 2007.
  • Villanova also shot below 65 percent from the free-throw line in two straight games for the first time since Jan. 10 and Jan. 19, 2009.
  • Moreover, the aforementioned two-game stretch was the first time ‘Nova shot below 65 percent on 25 free-throw attempts in both games since March 7 and 8, 2001.

Notes and Notables:

  • In the SWAC, Texas Southern knocked off contender Mississippi Valley State to improve to 13-1 in the league. The Tigers now have a three-game lead on Jackson State with four games left.

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 15, 2011 10:50 am
Edited on: February 15, 2011 12:24 pm
 

Lack of poise will doom Kansas

KU's emotional seams started to show in a win at Cal

Posted by Eric Angevine

If the Kansas Jayhawks do not wish to add to their litany of postseason failures, Bill Self must address the emotional maturity of his team, and he must do it now.

Last night's road loss to Kansas State showed once again that this team lacks emotional resilience. I'll let Lawrence Journal-World columnist Tom Keegan describe the scene:

It’s the threat of a recurring, self-defeating trait resurfacing at another inopportune time, the annoying sub-plot of an otherwise successful season, that could undermine KU’s attempt to get to Houston, site of the Final Four.

That, of course, would be the penchant for one of the Morris twins to act impulsively and get whistled for an intentional foul. It didn’t hurt his team when Markieff Morris got called for one against Missouri’s Justin Safford. Against K-State, Markieff’s arm made contact with Jacob Pullen’s face, which didn’t slow the senior guard from Chicago enough to keep him from torching KU with 38 points.

By that point in the game, Markieff’s twin, Marcus, had been whistled for two fouls. Markieff’s second foul, the intentional one, gave him a seat next to his brother.

The tendency for KU's big men to react poorly under difficult circumstances first showed itself in a win at Cal on December 22. Marcus Morris was ejected from the game for throwing a flagrant elbow at the head of a pesky Golden Bears defender. Since then, his brother has done the same, and younger players like Josh Selby have shown similar issues with emotional restraint. By allowing personal anger to overwhelm their desire for team success, the Morris twins are showing that they do not have what it takes to lead a Final Four team.

KU does have seniors, but they're a motley crew. Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar are sleepy-eyed Kansans who don't seem to have the force of personality or the on-court talent to corral this group of touchy malcontents. Mario Little is a redshirt transfer who sat out several games due to an arrest on charges of battery and criminal damage. Not exactly a sterling role model.

The juniors are at the heart of this team. Marcus and Markieff Morris, along with Tyshawn Taylor, are the starters that KU's offensive and defensive schemes are built around. Their various emotional meltdowns over the past few seasons have shown that neither of the three has the internal makeup to take this team to late March.

There comes a time in every young person's life -- typically some time in the mid-twenties -- when he realizes that what's "fair" has very little to do with success. In fact, it will be the teams that are able to push through blown calls, chippy opponents and mental and physical exhaustion who will end up in Houston in late March.

Ohio State phenom Jared Sullinger has said that he was spit on following an emotional road loss to Wisconsin. Does anyone now doubt that a full-scale brawl would erupt had something similar happened to a Jayhawk in the Octagon of Doom? That looks like a freshman showing the emotional restraint and leadership this group of Kansas upperclassmen needs to learn and teach to the younger players.

Is anyone in Allen Field House listening? The clock is ticking on this season. If this emotional undercurrent keeps bubbling to the surface, expect yet another too-early postseason exit for another supremely talented KU team.
Posted on: January 26, 2011 9:32 am
Edited on: January 26, 2011 11:10 am
 

Big 12 family gathers around Robinson

LR and FOE mean plenty to the Morris twins

Posted by Eric Angevine

I've been impressed with the way Thomas Robinson has handled himself during his personal season in hell. As Gary Parrish noted today, he's standing tall for his nine-year-old sister, even when his own pain must be crippling right now. And, as lonely as he might feel at this moment, it's now more obvious than ever before that he is not truly alone in this.

I've written before about the Morris twins (above) and their motto of F.O.E. - "Family Over Everything". Jayhawk fans who traveled to Boulder to support their team made sure to include F.O.E. on signs they brought to the Coors Events Center, alongside magic-markered expressions of sincere love and support for T-Rob. A scholarship fund for Robinson's sister Jayla has been established for those who want to do something to add hope to the distant future. For now, the wound is raw, but the kindness of strangers who ache for this small family will be a comfort down the road.

Marcus Morris, who was with Robinson when he got the awful news, had his friend -- he also calls him "cousin" and "brother" -- in mind throughout the game, as he tapped the round, black patch sewed on his jersey before each free throw. The patch, bearing the initials "LR" for Lisa Robinson, was added to the Jayhawk uniforms before the road trip.

It's not just Robinson's teammates who support him, either. The capacity crowd at Coors -- said to be the third-largest crowd in the history of the building -- observed a moment of silence in tribute to the life and too-early death of Robinson's mother. It was a sincere moment of empathy for a member of the opposing team that has been the biggest thorn in CU's side throughout the time that the two have shared a conference.

Every member of the KU team will travel to Washington, D.C. to be with Robinson as he and his sister endure their mother's funeral tomorrow, with one exception. In a chilling coincidence, one member of the KU staff will be attending another memorial service that touches the Big 12.

The only member of the basketball staff who will not attend the services will be video coordinator Kyle Keller. He will take part in observances in Stillwater, Okla., marking the 10th anniversary of the plane crash that claimed the lives of 10 members of the Oklahoma State basketball program. Keller was on the Oklahoma State staff at the time and would have been on the plane that crashed if then-coach Eddie Sutton hadn't asked him to take another flight.

-Associated Press report

Following the funeral, the KU family will gather again for Saturday's home game against Kansas State, then kick off February with a two-game road swing through Lubbock, Texas and a final visit to Lincoln, Nebraska. I wouldn't be surprised to see heartfelt support for Robinson in both of those venues, either.

When tragedy strikes -- as it did for Robinson this week and for the Oklahoma State men's team a decade ago -- Family Over Everything becomes the motto of the entire conference.

Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: January 17, 2011 4:31 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2011 4:43 pm
 

Baylor could end KU's unbeaten streak



Posted by Eric Angevine

Keeping the ball from getting inside is the key to beating Kansas. Gutty Nebraska proved that truism in all but the final result on Saturday. Josh Selby, Brady Morningstar and Tyshawn Taylor were a combined 1 of 6 from deep in that game, and Markieff Morris was held to just seven points and seven boards. Kieff's brother Marcus Morris got his double-double on to push through to the 63-60 win in Allen Fieldhouse, but a similar ending will be difficult to achieve on the road at Baylor, should Kansas again struggle on the interior.

The reason is that Baylor can put up a 2-3 zone with enough wingspan to effectively close off the lane. Played properly, it's exactly the type of stifling, annoying defense that can force Kansas into over-reliance on that deep shot. On offense, however, the Bears are left vulnerable by the somewhat desultory ballhandling of A.J. Walton, who has baffling stretches in which he becomes very turnover-prone, somewhat negating the star power of off-guard LaceDarius Dunn.

For each team, the underrated bench option may be the key. For Kansas, it was sophomore Thomas Robinson who crashed the boards when the deep shots missed on Saturday, at one point throwing down a putback dunk and roaring into the cameras. Quincy Acy is the Baylor player who makes his living off hustle and determination. Neither is considered the star of his team, but their contributions may very well decide whether Kansas is 18-0 at the end of the evening.
Posted on: January 13, 2011 10:36 am
Edited on: January 13, 2011 11:45 am
 

KU's success is a family affair

Posted by Eric Angevine

Announcers have trouble telling the Morris brothers apart in the heat of game action. The brothers have similar abilities, similar jersey numbers, and only the small designation Mk. or Mc. on the back of the jersey for clarification. Kansas fans long ago gave up on using first names, and refer to the twins from Philadelphia as simply "the Morii" in casual conversation.

Some twins bristle at the notion that outsiders can't tell them apart, but not the Morrii. The more the legend of Marcus grows -- as it did following his 33-point show in keeping Kansas undefeated last night -- the more he wants to drag his brother into the limelight with him. "I personally think there will be games Kieff can get 30 and Selby can get 30 ,” Marcus told Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal-World. “I had an on-night tonight. There’s other players on my team who can do it, too.”

It's not that Marcus lacks confidence. More that he seems to understand, perhaps better than a non-twin can, how much his own success is intertwined with that of the man standing next to him. Marcus and Markieff have always had that preternatural ability to bring out the best in one another, but it's becoming more and more obvious that the 'family' tag applies to the entire Kansas team these days. When Bill Self benched the brothers and started sophomore Thomas Robinson for a handful of games, the motivational ploy worked. There seems to be no bitterness between the three men who ply the frontcourt for the Jayhawks, regardless of who's starting. The backcourt situation is even more crowded, but nobody has complained publicly (way to go, Tyshawn !) about playing time. It's almost as if the entire team has adopted the Motto of the Morii: F.O.E.

The acronym is etched on the twins' biceps in indelible ink. It stands for Family Over Everything. "It means family first," Markieff told Joe Davis of Jayhawk Tip-Off. "With my family, we've been through thick and thin. That's who's by my side all the time, so that's what I preach."

The definition of family includes Sean Evans of St. John's and Lamar Trice of Mount St. Mary's, as well as a few other non-DI hoopsters who grew up in Philly with the Morrii, each of whom has the same tat. The Jayhawks are a relatively ink-free group, but it's easy to imagine that the family label is metaphorically stamped on everyone from superstar-in-waiting Josh Selby to benchwarming walk-on Jordan Juenemann. With Bill Self as patriarch and Danny Manning as the cool uncle, this KU team has forged a bond that has allowed for smooth sailing despite some big bumps in the road.

Think about how tough it must be to integrate a new scoring point guard after a third of the season has already been played. Imagine the jittery feelings that must surround something like Mario Little's suspension and reinstatement. Picture, if you can, what it takes to go undefeated through all that, while your school is hiring a new AD in the midst of scandal. Doubt any part of the Kansas gameplan you wish -- Self loves to keep his guys humble -- but don't question their team concept. It's rock solid.

Those of us who get paid to punditize will try to break down a team's prospects six ways from Sunday. We can examine personnel, coaching, strategy and tactics, etcetera. That ineffable thing called chemistry is the toughest to root out, however, and it plays such a huge role. It's not just 'does everyone get along'; there's also 'who's on the floor in crunch time?', 'how do they respond to adversity?' and 'how do they act when coach isn't around?' The best beat reporters can sometimes ferret out those types of details by virtue of proximity and persistence, but the rest of us must fill in the blanks based on on-court performance, for the most part.

From a distance, this KU team looks like a band of brothers, led by a pair of actual brothers. It's the sort of invisible bond that can be seen briefly when Michigan forces overtime, or when Hilton Coliseum is roaring and jumping for The Mayor  the way it did when the great Johnny Orr patrolled the sidelines over a decade ago.

If Kansas is on a Final Four path, as it seems to be at this early date, credit the extra mojo to those three letters: F.O.E.

Photo: AP
Posted on: January 9, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2011 7:47 pm
 

Kansas needs OT to subdue tough Michigan team



Posted by Eric Angevine

"You can't get away from the DNA!" crowed CBS announcer Clark Kellogg early in the second half of Sunday's intense battle between the Kansas Jayhawks and the Michigan Wolverines. He was referring to players like Tim Hardaway, Jr., Jordan Dumars and Jon Horford, each of whom brought a famous NBA name from yesteryear to the Michigan roster this season. But he might as well have been referring to the difficulty Kansas had in escaping that trio and their teammates at Crisler Arena.

Kansas 67 - Michigan 60 (OT)

The score of the game, which needed an OT period before either team could crack the 60-point mark, tells the story. Both teams played physical defense, and the most common sound in the first half was that of the rim rattling as shots missed and missed and missed. In the second stanza, Michigan began to find the range. Hardaway made the most of volume shooting, racking up a team-high 19 points but posting low shooting percentages. Marcus Morris led the visitors with a game-high 22.

The result confirms that Kansas is capable of winning tough, close games on the road, as the nation's No. 3 team improved to 15-0 and completed a perfect non-conference run. Michigan showed that some Big Ten upsets may be on the horizon, as they didn't back down from one of the nation's most complete teams, and showed an ability to score inside (insofar as either team was able to score at all), with 6-foot-4 junior Zack Novak posting a 12 point, 12 rebound double-double before fouling out in the extra period.

This was a rare non-conference road test for Kansas, and the Jayhawks passed. Bill Self's team will need that experience right away, as they go on the road to Iowa State to start the Big 12 season on Wednesday.

Posted on: December 29, 2010 10:26 am
Edited on: December 29, 2010 10:32 am
 

Selby will start, Marcus Morris won't for KU

Posted by Eric Angevine

Bill Self is going with a different lineup tonight, as the Jayhawks continue their quest to go undefeated in the non-conference portion of the schedule. The team will take the floor tonight against the Texas-Arlington Mavericks with Josh Selby, Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson in the starting lineup. Marcus Morris (right) will come off the bench.

There are various reasons for the change in lineup. Morris will sit out of the starting lineup for the first time this season due to the flagrant foul that got him tossed from the Cal game last week. The hard-charging Thomas Robinson will take his spot alongside the other Morris twin, Markieff. Selby will start as a combo guard to maximize his scoring opportunities, while sophomore Elijah Johnson will gain a golden opportunity to start at point guard. Senior sharpshooter (and calming presence) Tyrel Reed will be the third guard in for the opening tip.

Self did stress that Morris, his star junior, would get in the game tonight, but that the switch today was as much about punishment and teaching as it was about merit.

“He’s not going to start. For how long, I don’t know,” KU coach Self said, “He had it right where he wanted it and let it get away from him,” Self added of Morris.

“We haven’t given Thomas a chance to start. To be honest with you, he’s played real well the last couple games — (been) really big for us,” Self said. “We’ve been playing small, Travis (Releford, starter last two games) has done a nice job, still, we’re going to play two bigs tomorrow and we’ll switch some things up on the perimeter as well.”

-Gary Bedore, Lawrence Journal-World

This is pretty classic Bill Self, though the discipline issues he's had to face this season are unusual for his program. Lineups are extremely malleable in the non-con season under Self, the better to nail down a rotation for conference play. With Taylor's tough sojurn back from snowed-in New Jersey as a spinnable excuse, he now has a chance to see what Selby can do in the starting lineup. Don't be surprised if the freshman stays there. When KU had its first flirtation with a one-and-done talent last season, Xavier Henry was in and out of the starting lineup because he failed to show aggression and decision-making skills. Selby has already shown that neither will be a problem when he's in the game.

Perhaps more intriguing is the start for Robinson over "Mook" Morris . Self is a disciplinarian, but there's more to this decision. The KU head coach uses Robinson as a motivational tool to energize both Morris brothers all the time. In a January interview with Jayhawk Illustrated magazine, Self said "Thomas has done as much to make them better as anybody. He plays with a motor that they need to play with in order to keep up, as far as going after balls. I think Thomas has been very good for our team."

To be blunt, Thomas Robinson looks like he'll commit involuntary manslaughter to get his hands on the ball when he's in the game. He's not a legit threat to take Marcus Morris' job by any means, but he can definitely eat away at the minutes of one or both Morris brothers when coming off the bench. That unspoken (but clear) threat has to be a motivating factor for the twins. Not only do they need to play hard when they're in the game, but they must play smart. Allowing an overmatched opponent to bait you into getting thrown out of the game is dumb.

If Thomas Robinson lights up Allen Fieldhouse tonight, he's helping himself and Marcus Morris. The better Morris plays, the higher he climbs up the NBA draft board, where the money becomes irresistible. The sooner Marcus Morris makes that necessary leap, the sooner Robinson gets the starting job all to himself. If the Jayhawks win a championship along the way, so much the better for all concerned parties.

That's a win, win, win for Bill Self: Master Motivator.

Photo: US PRESSWIRE

Posted on: December 23, 2010 10:20 am
 

Cal coach Mike Montgomery forced to get physical

Posted by Matt Norlander

Kansas went into Berkeley last night and defeated Cal, 78-63.

But it wasn't that easy. And it wasn't that breezy. The two teams got progressively angrier at each other as the second half wore on, until tempers flared to the point where Jayhawk Marcus Morris threw an elbow into the beak of Harper Kamp and was promptly ejected. Then, shortly after that, Cal's Jorge Gutierrez had to be subdued by coach Mike Montgomery after wrestling vigorously on the ground for the basketball with Kansas' Thomas Robinson.

No, this did not escalate rather quickly . It was a slow boil, for sure, and it ticked off Kansas coach Bill Self, who spoke afterward about the sequence of events.

"It was ridiculous, and we obviously contributed a great amount to it," Self said. "I think Cal was chippy also, but we didn't handle it very well. We let it bother us too much and had to get the last word in. Really disappointed in Marcus, really disappointed in him, and he got exactly what he deserved."

Check the highlights to see the measures Montgomery was forced to take on Gutierrez. At least he avoided the Van Gundy Method.



Things didn't stop from there, as Kansas' Brady Morningstar later got petty and tried to swipe the ball away from Gary Franklin after the play had been blown dead. In all four technicals were called: Morris, Morningstar, Robinson and Gutierrez were hit.

Fortunately for Kansas, clearly the superior team, the antics didn't cost it the game — though Cal did draw within five points midway through the second half.

"The thing that bothers me in basketball, and Mike would say the same thing, when guy puts their own agenda ahead of the team is very, very selfish," Self said. "That (Morris' ejection and ensuing action) was almost a nine-point play. ... That was about as bad a basketball play as I've ever seen."
 
 
 
 
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