Wednesday March 16th, 2011

The five regional covers for SI's tournament preview issue, combined into one animated .gif:

For the issue's main story, "Great Adaptations," I took inside looks -- through film sessions with coaches, and conversations with players -- at four teams that are thriving with offenses that barely resemble what they ran a season ago: Notre Dame, Texas, Kentucky and Kansas, whose system is now run through the Morris twins rather than ball-dominating point guard Sherron Collins.

At the end of a conversation about post tactics with Marcus Morris, KU's outspoken hybrid forward, we began talking about other college players. I make the mistake of suggesting that Missouri forward (and eventual Big 12 Newcomer of the Year) Ricardo Ratliffe, whom Morris had just played, was in the same realm as him athletically. "Ratliffe?" Morris said. "He's nowhere near as good as I am. I'd kill him any day."

Marcus does not like to compliment other post players -- he believes he's the best in the country in that department, and he's probably right -- but he will speak highly of some guards. Especially a certain one from BYU. When I asked him a question about UConn's Kemba Walker, Morris said, "Kemba's a great player, but I like Jimmer. That's a bad boy right there. He was my teammate in Vegas during the USA Basketball [Select] camp."

I asked him, exactly, what he liked about Jimmer.

"He's got heart. You can see he has a feel for the game, and he can SHOOT IT from anywhere. Even if you try to box-and-one the guy, he brings it up and just pulls up from the hashmark. That's tough to guard.

"He's a great kid, too, if you've ever met Tyrel Reed on our team, he's like that -- Christian kid, is open about a lot of stuff.

"Jimmer works hard too. We were actually roommates in Vegas at the USA camp, and he was doing push-ups and sit-ups every night. And I was like, 'Man, that's a hard worker,' because I do not do push-ups or sit-ups every night."

I then asked if Jimmer did anything else in Vegas, and this is what Morris said: "He just read his Bible. Maybe he went out to eat with his friends, but he came right back in, and he went to sleep early. He was over 21, and he didn't gamble, anything like that. We were in Vegas, and he went to sleep early. But that's just the type of guy he is -- he doesn't change for anybody."

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