Is Phil Pressey the Spark Needed To Ignite Missouri?

Eric HobbsCorrespondent IJanuary 18, 2011

Coming into the 2010-2011 season, Missouri fans were excited about a young freshman from Texas who was lightning quick and could pass like few others are able. Whether it was nerves, luck or pressure to meet expectations, Phil Pressey simply couldn't get it done early in the season.

In back-to-back games in November against North Florida and Wyoming, Pressey committed 11 turnovers. The following game against La Salle, Pressey totaled just 6 points in 14 shot attempts. He would make lazy passes and try moves that may work on the AAU circuit, but won't cut it at the college level. The game simply seemed to be moving a bit too fast for him.

Billed as a point guard who could slash into the lane and create shots for others, Pressey often tried to make fancy passes rather than making the easy passes. When he was throwing the ball away, he seemed to try to make up for it by shooting the ball. This resulted in a multitude of forced shots without running the offense or looking for an open shot.

As Christmas approached, the freshman began to find his stroke, scoring 15 points while dishing out 11 assists against Central Arkansas. Just as he seemed to be turning the corner, Pressey broke a finger during practice.

Since his return after missing four games, the son of former NBA standout Paul Pressey has only turned it over five times in four games. His first action came in the second half against Colorado, where has was used primarily as a body to give teammates extra rest. His first significant time back was against Nebraska, where he showed a few signs.

Against Texas A&M, he played sparingly in the first half, but came out in the second half without the glove he had been wearing over his cast and shot the ball much better, scoring a career-high 16 points.

Pressey followed that performance up with 13 more points and a highlight reel alley-oop pass to Lawrence Bowers against Kansas State in the Tigers' Big Monday win 75-59 win over the Wildcats.

Now, Missouri fans are seeing the player they saw in the highlight packages, a point guard that relentlessly harasses opponents and can get the ball to a teammate anywhere on the court.

As Missouri continues its conference schedule, Pressey may prove critical to the Tigers' conference title hopes as well as their chances in the NCAA tournament. With Pressey alongside the ever-dangerous Michael Dixon, Big 12 teams may need to get ready for a two-headed point guard monster leading the "fastest 40 minutes in basketball."