LAWRENCE — Marcus Morris calls himself a captain. He does not have a "C" on his jersey or an official title — his coach chooses not to name captains — but Morris feels that his role is understood.
"I just say it's who players look up to the most," said Morris. "The guys really look to us for confirmation. I think we all know who the captains are."
Given that Morris views himself in this way, his flagrant foul and ejection from Kansas' game at California on Dec. 22 seem even more out of place. Morris threw an elbow above the shoulder of Cal forward Harper Kamp early in the second half, and now KU's unofficial team captain will not start for the Jayhawks tonight against Texas-Arlington. KU coach Bill Self said Morris will have to earn back that spot — a punishment that got Self talking about leadership in general.
"The thing about it is with leaders, sometimes your so-called best leaders are guys that lead negatively," Self said. "Your leaders have to be positive leaders. Sometimes leaders are energy-givers, sometimes they are energy-takers. You want to have consistent energy-givers."
Self then turned to the matter of Morris.
"I think Marcus has the most potential on our team to be the best leader, without question," Self said. "But that was not evident in the Cal game. We talk about this all the time. I talk openly and candidly with him: 'You can get your teammates to follow you... but would you want them to right now?' That's the thing. This last game, this situation has been good for him, to be honest."
During the week off, Self and Morris had a chance to look at the tape of the game and reflect on it. Morris says that he should not have done what he did, yet he also readily admits the reasons for it. He felt that Kamp was "playing dirty," and Self acknowledged the game was "chippy" from the start. The feeling was that the upset-minded Golden Bears played with the intention of inciting mighty Kansas.
"I'm not an official, but I just felt like (Kamp) had already passed the line," Morris said. "Me being me, I thought anything was going. I thought it was a dog fight."
Looking back, Morris wishes that he would have talked with a referee about the physical play. Of course, he took matters into his own hands, and, with 17:23 left, Morris was facing a long jog back through the tunnel to the locker room.
"It wasn't real at first," Morris said. "I was like, 'Dang, did I really just do that?' I just went in there and stared at the clock for the entire game and waited for the guys to come back."
The Jayhawks came back jubilant after a 78-63 victory, and all was OK for Morris. KU has proved numerous times this season — against Arizona (foul trouble), Colorado State (ankle injury) and Cal — that it can play without its most feared offensive weapon. Now, with freshman guard Josh Selby (19.5 points per game in two outings), Morris truly has all the help any player could want.
"If they would have lost, I know all the blame would have gone to me," said Morris, who averages 15.5 points. "We've got guys who can play. When I go down, get injured or kicked out of the game, I know my team can really win."
But Morris doesn't want that to happen again. In his mind, he's a team leader, and he has to make sure that's a good thing for the Jayhawks.
"For the young guys who look up to me," Morris said, "for them to think I would do something as stupid as I did was kind of embarrassing to me."
Little's court date delayed — A Lawrence Municipal Court hearing for Kansas basketball senior forward Mario Little has been delayed from Jan. 5 to May 19, according to a court clerk.
Little, who was arrested Dec. 16 and charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass, criminal damage to property and battery, hired Lawrence attorney Albert Lopes to represent him. Little will have a number of options before the May 19 court date, including taking a diversion agreement or agreeing to a plea bargain.
KU coach Bill Self has suspended Little indefinitely from playing in games.