SAN ANTONIO If youre growing up playing basketball in Philadelphia, well, youve got to be tough. No way around it.
That was the message Kansas forwards and twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris wanted to get across when the media peppered them with questions about Fridays pregame dust-up with Richmond.
They didnt want to offer their upbringing as an excuse for what happened, they just wanted to put it into context.
You got to be tough to succeed (in Philadelphia), you got to be tough if you want to be one of the ones that make it out, Marcus said. And I think what that does, when youre out there on those Philly playgrounds growing up, is it makes it so you never back down from anybody. I also think that with the extra media attention for (the NCAA Tournament) that it gets a little more attention than it normally would.
Were just kids out there, trying to have fun. I think the media took it like we wanted to fight them, or brawl or something. That wasnt the case.
Markieff Morris got in foul trouble early in the 77-57 victory and scored five points with six rebounds, well below his averages of 13.6 points and 8.2 rebounds. Marcus, the Big 12 Player of the Year, finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Our coaches dont want us to do stuff like what happened, Marcus Morris said. Every day at practice they talk about sportsmanship and playing the right way. The whole thing just kind of took on a life of its own.
Afterward, a lot of the attention was focused on the skirmish. The Jayhawks face Virginia Commonwealth today with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
We put that stuff behind us pretty quickly, Markieff Morris said. People want to say we were trying to start trouble or stuff like thatæ.æ.æ. we cant pay attention to it. During the game we were helping (Richmond) players up and they were helping us up.
Both acknowledged that Fridays chain of events, the skirmish and the blowout win, help contribute to the David vs. Goliath storyline for todays game. Kansas is the last remaining No. 1 seed in the tournament and VCU is a No. 11 seed.
It makes us Goliath, but we dont look at it like that, Markieff Morris said. VCU has beaten a couple of really good teams. They have to be somewhat good in this game. Were just ready to get out there and give them our best shot.