Tag:Markieff Morris
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 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
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