By René Reyes and Craig Meyer/DFP Staff
In the America East, the Boston University men’s basketball team has matched up down low against the likes of University of Vermont’s Evan Fjeld and University of New Hampshire’s Dane DiLiegro.
Friday night, it will face off against entirely different big men in the University of Kansas’ Marcus and Markieff Morris, ironically nicknamed the “Twin Towers.” The Morris twins have been a dominating force all season long for the Jayhawks and make up one of the nation’s most skilled frontcourts. Marcus is listed at 6-foot-9 while his brother Markieff stands an inch taller at 6-foot-10.
For the 6-foot-6 junior forward Patrick Hazel, who will be called upon to guard one of the twins, sticking to BU’s defensive principles could go a long way in limiting the Morris twins’ offensive production for the Jayhawks.
“They’re two great players, the twins,” Hazel said at the NCAA Tournament Press Conference. “They do have a good reputation, so we’re focused on what the entire team does, and we’re definitely focused more on what we do. We’ll try on to execute our game plan to the best of our ability. I feel like we’ve been preparing to do that all week.”
The Big 12 Player of the Year and Naismith Player of the Year candidate, Marcus has posted season averages of 17.3 points and 7.2 rebounds, and is regarded as one of the nation’s elite low post scorers and is a better all-around player than his twin. Markieff, on the other hand, has also had a strong year for Kansas and has averaged 13.6 ppg and 8.2 rbg.
BU coach Patrick Chambers has noted this week at practice that he will switch up his defense from man-to-man to zone, depending on what is working best for his squad. Defending the Morris twins will be an arduous task for BU.
“We haven't seen a duo like the Morris twins of their size and their ability,” Chambers said at the NCAA Tournament Press Conference. “It's really going to challenge us. But it's not going to be on one guy. It's going to be on five guys. It's going to be on Boston University as a team. We've got to play great team defense, that's what got us here.
“We're not changing now. There are not going to be any gimmicks out there. We are who we are. They're an extremely talented bunch of kids. They go inside. They go outside, and they can hurt you in a lot of different ways. Again, we've just got to play solid team defense.”
Senior forward John Holland echoed his bench boss’ words.
“Obviously they're great players,” Holland said at the NCAA Press Conference. “It's going to take 40 minutes and just playing hard. I think if we can do that, hopefully we can compete and do what we need to do and stick to our principles. They're great players. What can you say?”
BU and Kansas may be as dissimilar of basketball programs as there are in the nation, but through the Jayhawks’ star big men, some striking connections link the two teams.
Marcus and Markieff Morris both grew up in Philadelphia and played at APEX Academy, a high school located in nearby Pennsauken, N.J. Additionally, both were heavily recruited by Villanova University while Chambers was the associate head coach on Jay Wright’s staff.
The bonds extend even deeper to a Terriers roster that includes seven players who played some form of basketball – be it high school or college – in the Philadelphia area.
The sense of familiarity much of the BU team and coaching staff has with Kansas’ standout twins may very well help ease any tenseness or anxiety heading into a game against a storied program and top-5 team.