Last season Randolph Morris played like the boy in the middle. His soft play, his immature play, his lack of discipline on defense, his playing below the rim, all of these traits have slowly dissipated from his game. Morris is now playing more like the man in the middle!
The young man became eligible on January 10 and has since exhibited some sincere gratitude for another chance to show the Kentucky fans what he can do on the basketball court.
What Morris has done of late and especially the Tennessee game is eye opening. "We had a great, great effort from Randolph Morris," Tubby Smith said. Coach Smith was asked how he felt Morris has been playing over the two months?
"Smith said: He had an outstanding game at South Carolina, he played well as LSU, he been playing well – he's been playing more consistent over the last few weeks. So I've been very impressed with the way he been rebounding the ball, staying out of foul trouble. I think it has help him coming off the bench and not picking up early fouls. The foul trouble has taken some of his aggressiveness away from him."
Tubby was asked about the fan expectation, especially those who feel that no matter how well Morris plays, more is expected? The coach said that the worry about fan expectation shouldn't come into the equation. He said our expectation is for him to be consistent and give the great effort.
Several games back, basketball analyst and former All-American Clark Kellogg, with Smith's permission, went into the locker room to talk to Morris. A re-cap of the conversation was for him to be more aggressive in there. "I appreciate him (Kellogg) doing that but he's got to go out and do and he did it," Smith said. "I'm sure the motivation…people are inspired by many things. What inspires one may not inspire another. I glad he had a chance to visit with him and I think it has paid a rather positive experience from it."
The coach said he rebounding the ball with two hands, he staying out of foul trouble, he doing things correctly and these are the things we've ask him to do from the beginning. We've told him if he stayed in the game, he'd be a lot more productive.
Randolph Morris played in the Tennessee game 23 minutes and scored twenty-two points, more than a point a minute. "Yeah, Randolph was killing them," Rekalin Sims said. "I'm not surprised because in practice that's what he does. He dunks everything he can, he goes real hard, he's real physical." Sims said that if we get that in the sec tournament we would be okay.
Do the teammates ever say anything to Morris about his foul trouble? "New, we leave that up to the coaches," Sims said. "We make fun of him about it, we don't really jump on him about it, we just tease him. He just jokes back and says yeh, yeh, you're right."
Sims said the higher expectation is not coming from the team because we know what he can do. The man in the middle is starting to exert himself!
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