A 6-8 forward who could shoot the three, play inside, and crash the boards, Marcus Morris was expected to make an immediate impact.
But major college basketball is a big adjustment from high school, and
Morris was no exception. He struggled in KU’s opening
exhibition game against Washburn on Nov. 4, fouling out in seven
minutes with just two points.
Coach Bill Self said the game would be a humbling and learning
experience for Morris.
The Philadelphia native took his lessons and rebounded with 11 points
(5-6 FG) and six boards in 16 minutes during KU’s 103-58
victory over Emporia State on Tuesday. He also committed just one foul.
Morris showed flashes of his great scoring potential, although his
defense wasn't quite sound.
“I think I played well,” Morris said. “I
could have played a little better rebounding. I have to cut dow on
turnovers (two). Defense wise, I think I could have got up on my man a
Morris admitted he got tired in the first half and
“didn’t hedge over certain screens.”
“I know (Self) sees it so when I come to the sideline,
he’ll whisper in my hear, ‘You know what you
did?’ I just say, ‘Next time, I’ll make
sure I get over the screen.’”
“That takes a little while for the second wind to kick
in,” Morris added. “When you first start out, I get
winded real fast. Once I come out and see how the game and
tempo’s going, that’s when I (start) playing ...
(and) the offense part just comes to me
Self was pleased with Morris’s improvement from game one.
“He had a rough stretch defensively in the first half when he
got tired, but he was better,” Self said. “I guess
the best thing about his line was the fact he made sure he
didn’t foul out. He and (twin brother) Markieff combined for
one foul. That may have been one of the most positive things we
With two exhibition games under his belt, Morris is ready to start the
regular season against UMKC on Sunday. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. at Allen
“I’m excited to play in my first real
game,” he said. “I’m excited to finally
get out there and see how it really is to play at the Phog and just be
part of the tradition now.”
“I got my feet wet as coach said,” Morris added
about the exhibition season. “There should be no more excuses
now. We should just go out and play hard and show why (Self) recruited
Junior point guard Sherron Collins expect big things from Morris this
“He can be (really) good,” Collins said.
“Once he gets himself going and keeps his hands off people
(on defense) ... He’s so versatile (with his) inside and
outside game. I think he’s showed glimpses of it, but
he’s still got more to offer.”
Morris said it’s been a big leap from high school to major
“The transition is amazing,” he said.
“You have to prepare yourself before you get here.
It’ s just not going in the gym and shooting. It’s
“It gets a little better each time. It’s hard to
just keep following someone around screens, but if you want to win,
that’s the sacrifice you have to make.”
For Morris, the transition to college has been easier rooming with
“He’s like my best friend,” Marcus said.
“He’s always there.”
Marcus said he’s made a special effort to “really
focus on being closer to my teammates because we (twins) know
we’re real close to each other. As far as I’m
concerned, we’re all brothers. It’s just one big
Self believes Marcus will eventually make his mark on the Jayhawk
basketball family. Despite his early struggles on defense, Self sees
much brighter days ahead.
“Marcus Morris could be a terrific defender,” Self
said. “You guys (media) can look at me at the end of the
season and make a case he could be your best defender from a physical
In time, Morris could also become the next Julian Wright (with a better
jump shot and minus Wright’s extraordinary passing skills).
He’ll just keep working hard and progressing until he reaches
“I think I’m going to start coming around as the
season goes,” Morris said.
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