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Darius Morris handling preparation the right way

December 5, 2011 |  5:03 pm

The Lakers hadn't even opened their gates, but Darius Morris couldn't wait.

On the first day the team opened voluntary workouts Thursday at its practice facility in El Segundo, the rookie guard arrived at 9:30 a.m., a half-hour before the facility opened. 

Talk about a solid first impression.

Of course, what matters will involve how Morris actually looks on the basketball court. Will his off-season  efforts to improve his outside shooting show results in NBA games? Can Morris, who led the Big Ten his sophomore season at the University of Michigan in assists, still maintain his playmaking abilities? Though the Lakers need help at the point-guard spot, could Morris realistically receive enough playing time on a veteran-laden roster?

Within all the uncertainties, it remains certain that Morris has taken the right approach in preparing for his rookie season.

"You come in ready," said Morris, who maintained optimism the Lakers will add him to the roster. "We'll put it in God's hands and I'll do what I can do and do what I can control and go out there and work hard."

That went beyond arriving to the Lakers' first two voluntary workout sessions on Thursday and Friday. It involved maintaining a rigorous schedule that included playing pickup basketball in the mornings at Loyola Marymount and working out at Mira Costa High School.

During his pickup games, he already began playing with teammates Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes, Derek Fisher and Luke Walton. He experienced firsthand what it was like playing with Blake Griffin and O.J. Mayo. His never-ending routine in altering his footwork, form and follow-through gives him confidence he can become a better outside shooter than when he hit only 25% of three-point attempts during his sophomore season at Michigan.  

The grind didn't stop. At Mira Costa, he squatted and bench-pressed as much as 225 pounds. He performed agility ladder drills to improve his quickness. He gained 10 pounds of strength and currently tilts the scales at 195 pounds. 

This may not translate on the Lakers' veteran-laden roster. But Morris has no other choice but to approach his rookie season this way.

"I'm glad I didn't take any time off," Morris said. "I'm glad I stayed in shape. As a rookie, especially in my position, I couldn't afford to take any time off. So it really worked out for my good."


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— Mark Medina

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