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Kansas Positional Previews: Power Forward

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The four spot has the potential to be one of the best for Kansas in 2010-2011.  Marcus Morris and Thomas Robinson make up the 1-2 punch of players that would fall most readily in this category, although Markieff Morris, Mario Little and maybe even Travis Releford could find minutes at a "4" spot so to speak depending on the situation.

If there's one thing we've learned about Coach Self it's that he's not afraid to try a few things. Just look at Tuesday's matchup against Emporia State for a sample of some of the lineup options he'll toy around with. 

But if we're going traditional, and we're going with a true power forward type, Morris and Robinson have the potential to be absolutely huge for Kansas this year.

Marcus Morris

What word describes Marcus Morris better than progress?  If you can remember back to his freshman year he was the "forgotten" Morris as Markieff was the one that actually stepped into a starting role right of the bat.  Marcus was supposed to be the one that could step away from the basket a little more easily.  He was supposed to be the one that fit maybe even in the 3 spot.  All in all though it was hard to envision those things early.

During his Sophomore year Marcus Morris absolutely exploded in comparison to his first season.  The development was about as dramatic as Kansas fans can probably remember in recent years.  On the season Morris averaged 12.8 points and 6 rebound, but his statistics really don't tell the whole story.

Perhaps partially assisted by the attention others on the court were receiving, Morris went form a mistake prone freshman to a productive and extremely efficient player.  In Big 12 conference play Morris led the entire league shooting at a 56% clip.  In fact when you look at conference only statistics, which is when Morris really stepped thing up, it's impressive all around.

14.2 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game, 3rd in the conference in terms of offensive rebounding production and again 56% from the field which led the conference.  When you add all that up, it's easy to see why Morris will be in contention for Big 12 player of the year in 2010-2011.

All in all the last year has been a good one for "McMorris". A summer spent playing with the USA Men's Select Team alongside and against top competition, and a weekend turning heads at Amar'e Stoudemire's skills camp have put Morris at the forefront of a lot of conversations.  He'll be the leader of this team and a player that can catapult himself from an awkward mistake prone freshman to an NBA lottery pick in two years time. 


Thomas Robinson

Thomas Robinson was once described by Bill Self as the best natural rebounder he had ever seen.  Not a bad label from a coach of that caliber.  Especially a coach who has had the privilege to be around some pretty solid big men. With that statement comes expectations and as is often the case, expectations that can be tough to live up to.

The more you look back at Bill Self's time with Kansas, the more you start to realize that there seems to be a process that he goes through with most freshman.  I'm not sure what it is or how to describe it, but it's almost a "you thought you were the man, but here's what you didn't know" type development.  Break em down and build em back up perhaps.

Now obviously there are exceptions but Thomas Robinson definitely fell into the category of a guy who looked a bit like a fish out of water in 2009-2010.  Certainly minutes were difficult to come by in a log jammed front court rotation focused heavily on Cole Aldrich and the Morri, but when he did play Robinson sometimes struggled to find a rhythm and looked a little frantic.  That's ok, it's to be expected and this is a year where he can take that step forward.

The only bad news for Robinson is that Marcus Morris has set the bar for year one to year two development, but after averaging just 7 minutes per game a year ago, playing time and another year in the system should start to show some of that promise that was expected of Robinson from the start.