The Quiet All-American
Kansas is thriving with Marcus Morris leading the way.
by David Cassilo / @dcassilo
Kansas was not supposed to be this good, not yet at least. The consensus No. 1 team heading into the NCAA tournament last season, the Jayhawks lost Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry to the NBA.
Replacing that kind of talent seems daunting, but that’s the easy part. Kansas always has been a pipeline of NBA players.
The question mark was the leadership, but as Kansas roars through its non-conference schedule, it’s evident that replacing that wasn’t too hard either.
“Sherron and Cole were like passing the torch down,” said junior forward Marcus Morris. “Now it’s my turn to lead, and I think we’re doing a great job.”
Morris is not very similar to Collins or Aldrich. Both of those players were vocal on and off the court. Instead, the 6-9 forward is quiet but confident, knowing when to say something if he needs to, but mainly leading by what he does on the floor.
The different style of leadership has led to very similar results. After defeating No. 13 Memphis on Tuesday night, the Jayhawks are off to an 8-0 start and quietly sit at No. 4 in the country.
Last year, you couldn’t a conversation about the best team in the country without including Kansas. This year’s team has taken identity of Morris – quiet, consistent and sometimes overlooked.
“I wouldn’t say under the radar but we lost three NBA draft picks,” said Morris. “Any team that loses three NBA draft picks is going to drop further down. I think that we are going to surprise a lot of guys, and that we are in the right place right now.”
The credit for the team’s great start can be given to its greatest strength – its size.
“I’d definitely say we’re the best frontcourt in the country,” said Morris.
Morris, along with his twin brother Markieff and sophomore Thomas Robinson combined for 40 points and 25 rebounds against Memphis. All three players are 6-9 or taller and double-doubles waiting to happen.
The Morris twins are difficult for anyone to matchup with. Both can play the traditional low post but also possess an improving outside shot that makes them almost impossible to defend. Together they are averaging over 30 points and 15 rebounds per game.
They also have the advantage of playing together longer than any two players in college basketball.
“It’s special,” said Marcus Morris. “I got the chance to play with my brother, and we really have a chemistry with each other.”
That chemistry has spread to the rest of the team and has Kansas not skipping a beat with Morris leading the way.