Missouri Basketball: Coach Mike Anderson Has Tigers Believing

Bill RobbinsCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2011

Missouri newcomer Ricardo Ratliffe has been a presence in the post this season and has been a big reason why this team is ranked #8 in the nation.
Missouri newcomer Ricardo Ratliffe has been a presence in the post this season and has been a big reason why this team is ranked #8 in the nation.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Many didn't know what to expect when up-and-coming coach Mike Anderson took over the reins as the head man of the basketball program and the University of Missouri in 2006.

It didn't take long for Anderson to instill his brand of basketball, 40 minutes of hell, that he adapted from legendary coach Nolan Richardson.

After a lackluster first two seasons, his third Tigers team took off. They were able to get to the Elite Eight for the first time in eight seasons and won a school-record 31 games in the process.

When that season ended, many began to believe that Anderson's system was starting to fall into place and that he was indeed the right man for this job.

Last year, in Anderson's fourth season, Missouri once again reached the big dance, but got knocked out in the second round.

Coming into the 2010-11 season, the expectations were high as Missouri was returning most of their offense, including juniors Marcus Denmon, Kim English and sophomore stud Mike Dixon.

However, this year's team had some question marks to go along with it as they had five new players coming in, including four freshmen and two JUCO transfers.

The major issue concerning the newest Anderson recruiting class became their ability to play defense.

The Tigers lost three standout defensive players to graduation from last year's team—J.T. Tiller, Zaire Taylor and Keith Ramsey.

So far, the early returns for this year's team have been good from the defensive side of the ball.

After getting off to a relatively shaky start to begin the season, Anderson seems to have his men playing solid defense and really disrupting the offensive rhythm of opposing teams.

Take Missouri's last opponent, for example. Old Dominion came into their game with MU picked to battle for their conference championship and were in the NCAA tournament last season.

Anderson's Tigers held them in check to just 58 points for the game and they were hardly ever a factor in the game at all.

Or how about the previous game where Missouri held Northern Illinois to just 61 points for the game?

Mike Anderson is a man who stresses defense over offense and there is no doubt that he has to be one of the happiest people to see the newest version of the Tigers starting to play his style of basketball.

He has this team believing right now and this is a scary thought for the rest of the Big 12 as conference play kicks off this weekend.