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Mr. Laz
11-29-2008, 10:25 AM
Morningstar shines in Kansas’ rout of Coppin State

By J. BRADY McCOLLOUGH

The Kansas City Star


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Orlin Wagner
Coppin State guard Tywain McKee couldn’t keep Kansas
guard Brady Morningstar from a career-high 21 points.
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<!-- END /pubsys/production/story/story_assets.comp --> <table> </table> LAWRENCE | When you look at Brady Morningstar, you don’t see a guy who can do it all. You see the white undershirt, the tape around his thumb and the socks pulled above his ankles, all of which give him the appearance of a player plucked from another era.

“Definitely old-school,” KU freshman Tyshawn Taylor said after Friday night’s 85-53 win over Coppin State at Allen Field House. “I mean, Brady is old, so …”

Morningstar’s teammates can’t help ribbing him. He is a 23-year-old sophomore. He spent a year at prep school after graduating from Lawrence Free State High and then redshirted his sophomore season at KU last year. But for a guy who never stops hearing about his relative old age, Morningstar hasn’t shown a lot of wear and tear.
In five games, he has been asked to do everything. On Friday night, he was asked to make shots against a zone defense. So he went out and scored a career-high 21 points, hitting six of eight three-pointers, and threw in a career-high seven rebounds for good measure.

And good luck trying to get Morningstar to play into the natural story lines, to talk about how nights like Friday are a dream come true and all of that mumbo jumbo. Here’s how Morningstar saw his night: His teammates found him open. He made most of the shots. It was good.

“You know,” Morningstar said, “I’m just out there playing. As I was growing up, I thought about it (being) like this, but since I’m here, it’s all business.”

The order of business has changed from night to night. Morningstar, who is 6 feet 3, has been put in an awkward position by starting at the three-man or small-forward spot occupied the last three years by the 6-6 Brandon Rush. In the CBE Classic, he was matched up defensively with two premier athletes in Washington’s Quincy Pondexter and Syracuse’s Paul Harris. And, hey, the old man survived.

“It’s unfortunate for him,” KU coach Bill Self said. “He’s got to defend the best athlete on the court. Physically, he can do it, but we didn’t recruit him to be our starting three-guard or small forward. We recruited him to be a guard. There’s some pressure on him to be able to do that. I think he’s handled it pretty well so far.”

It’s hard to know what to make of Morningstar’s early-season performance. Odds are, he won’t stay in the starting lineup once junior transfer Mario Little — a more natural three-man — recovers from a stress fracture in his lower left leg. But, no matter, there appears to be a niche forming for Morningstar. There is always a niche for a player who has 15 assists compared with just five turnovers, can defend a variety of players and has the ability to shoot as he did Friday night.

Self called Morningstar “a glue guy,” which is certainly one of his terms of endearment.
“He’s just one of those guys who gets the job done,”

Taylor said. “He doesn’t do anything fancy.”

Morningstar’s continuing emergence jumped out of a routine nonconference beating for the Jayhawks, who were coming off a tough loss to Syracuse on Tuesday. KU soared to a 38-7 lead in the first half, and then came the requisite loss of focus that accompanies a 31-point lead against a team most of the Jayhawks had probably never heard of.

There were highs — Cole Aldrich’s 23 points and 11 rebounds — and there were lows. KU turned the ball over 14 times and forced only 10 Coppin State giveaways.

The night nearly became disastrous late in the second half when Taylor fell to the floor holding his left ankle. He lay there for a while and needed help to get to the locker room before figuring out that he could walk on his own power.

Taylor, who had 10 points, six assists and five rebounds, said after the game that he will be ready for KU’s game on Monday night against a tough Kent State team.

“If we were practicing,” Self said, “he would have gotten retaped and been back in 3 minutes.”

All things considered, it was another good night for this young Kansas team — particularly for its oldest player.

“I’m still just trying to get in the groove of things,” Morningstar said. “It’s time to go out there and play and hit shots and help my team win. Tonight I think I took a step forward.”

<hr class="infobox-hr-separator"> K-State in Vegas

The Kansas State-Kentucky men’s basketball game Friday night in Las Vegas started too late to be included in this edition. Go to KansasCity.com for complete coverage.

Silock
11-29-2008, 11:04 AM
Here's to him keeping it up.