Brady Returns

The first semester is over at KU and the number one nation brings a spotless record to a Saturday meeting with Michigan with two "new" faces back in action – Jeff Withey and junior Brady Morningstar.

Brady Morningstar made a mistake on the eve of October 3rd when he got behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.

Head coach Bill Self knew that this was a gross error in judgment from a "good kid". But nonetheless Brady was the example and needed to be penalized at a time when following team rules were at an even higher premium in Lawrence. The Morningstar mishap came on the heels of the Jayhawks lurking in the news because of multiple altercations between the basketball and football teams. The penalty from within the Kansas basketball family came swiftly and with severe ramifications and surely sent a message to the rest of the team that behavior like this would not be tolerated at Kansas.

"I think that he understands, as our players do, in large part because of Brady, that the consequences of our actions from an individual basis are probably more than what they assumed and is magnified probably ten times because of playing at Kansas," said Self.

Brady had violated the law and team curfew and was suspended for the entire first semester.

"The punishment I think was pretty stiff," Self stated in Friday's meeting with the media. "In large part because it came at a time where we couldn't afford anything like this to occur and guys have to understand that. It would've been stiff no matter what but it's been pretty stiff. But I think he's handled it well. I think he'll be a better man because of it."

Now Morningstar returns ready to make a contribution but fighting for time in an already crowded lineup. Questions about how he will fit in the rotation and who might share the court with him were directed at Self on Friday.  

"If you watched us play it doesn't matter as long as we have a point guard in the game. It doesn't matter so yeah, he and Xavier could play a lot together," Self continued. "He and Tyshawn could play a lot together. It could be he and Tyrel. Brady and Tyshawn. Those three could be out there. It doesn't matter. It doesn't make a difference as long as we have a point guard in the game at all times."

How will Morningstar perform on the court and impact the nation's number one ranked team? After learning a hard lesson about how fickle and fine a line there is between success and failure at this level will Brady try to hard to make amends for lost time? Will he return an even better player than last season?

Right now one thing is for sure, according to Self, Brady will play.

"Who knows how he is going to react," said Self when asked if Morningstar will be a better player. "But I think he's going to react in a very favorable way. I think he's poised and ready to go out there and impact our team but whether or not it happens game one, I don't know."

"Brady, in practice, is kind of a goofy guy, because he brings so much energy," said center Cole Aldrich. "That's one thing that we've missed for the few months he's been out. We're excited for him to come back."
 
"Certainly I would like to think he's a better player but let's wait and see how he plays in the games because it is different. There's a lot of guys that say I'm prepared I've done this I've done that, I'm a better player, I've done everything I need to do to become a better player and you get out there and next thing you know you miss your first four shots and you start reverting back to the way you shot it before because it wasn't working. I don't think that will be the case with Brady. I think he probably is going to be better than he was last year," Self concluded.

The 6-3 Morningstar may be better on the court and improve the numbers he posted last season when he started 34 of 35 games, once again Self will lean on him on the defensive end of the floor where he frequently drew the other team's top scorer. Brady returns once again as part of the defensive scheme to stop Michigan's best player. Wolverine junior Manny Harris is scoring over 20 points a game (22.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg) and Brady will again face the inevitable task of holding down the oppositions top player.

"We don't have Manny (Harris) but he's guarded Xavier in practice a lot," said Self when asked about Brady's matchup with Harris. "When he's in the game, he'll certainly be put on him to try and slow him down. I don't know if you can shut out a guy that's averaging 22 or whatever but certainly try to slow him down."

"He makes a lot of things easier," according to senior Sherron Collins. "He puts a lot of pressure on the ball. Defensively he makes things easier. Offensively, he makes a lot of things easier because he knows how to move the ball and can find the open man."

No one is questioning Morningstar's desire or his defensive prowess or whether or not he'll knock down the open three. The real difference for Morningstar may come off the court. He's endured the last few months with the attention on him and the finger pointed squarely in his chest. Surely he's suffered his penance. He's a local boy from Lawrence with two prominent parents in the community. Morningstar has had to face his teammates, coaches, community, and family.

"It's tough when both parents live in the community and are very prominent in the community and dad (Roger Morningstar) was a great player here. They hear about it a lot more than somebody whose parents live in California. It's been tough on him but he's a winner," Self added.

Lost in the translation of the college game are coaches and universities trying to produce better people and not just W's. Coaches and administrators are trying to send their athletes and students home with a degree and as people who are built to succeed in society. The message Self sent Brady was in bold print for sure but the motivation was not strictly basketball-related. The way he has reacted to his time away has been nothing but a positive according to all those around him.

"I think it has helped him mature and grow up. If that plays out to be true, then it wasn't wasted. A lot of people say ‘well, was it a good loss?' No. There are no good losses unless you get better because of it. Certainly this was a bad loss but if he gets better because of it over time it'll end up being good for him," said Self.

"This has been an embarrassing, disappointing, and in his mind humiliating experience that I think he's handled beautifully. I think he's taken a bad negative, in his mind, although, in his mind it's not as bad as a lot of things going on. He's taken a bad negative and has certainly done his part in having the right mindset to not only help himself but help others and he's been good. He's been good for our other players. He's taken his medicine and moved on."

Notes:
- Kansas is 0-5 against Michigan with the last game coming in 1992 in Honolulu, Hawaii against the Fab Five. "It's been 17 years but I will definitely remind our guys of that," Self admitted.

- Self confirmed Tyshawn Taylor will return to the starting lineup tomorrow.
 
- Self when asked about adding Jeff Withey and Brady Morningstar to his roster for this semester compared it to the wheeling and dealing going on in major league baseball. "Next to (Roy) Halladay going to the Phillies and (Cliff) Lee going to the Mariners I think our acquisitions are as good as anybody's. We didn't have to give anybody up so that's good. Certainly I think we got better by these two becoming eligible."

- This week www.billself.com was unveiled. It is a pretty cool website and another way for KU basketball to strut its stuff. Check out the Morris twins version of MTV Cribs.

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