Going into his third season as head basketball coach at the University of Missouri, it's obvious that the fan base is growing impatient, and results are needed right now. Head Coach Mike Anderson hasn't finished under .500 either year at Missouri, but at 36-28 overall in his first two years, more is expected from a school that used to rule the hardcourt.
Anderson is a student of Nolan Richardson, the legendary Arkansas head coach who taught Anderson the "40 Minutes of Hell" style of basketball. Missouri uses a full court press for most of the game, and plays a hectic style of ball, pushing for layups and open jumpers.
After dealing with the disappointing players and recruiting probation that Missouri had to deal with after the Quin Snyder era in Columbia, Anderson seems to finally have a clean slate. He's got an astounding seven new faces playing for his team this year, with only two senior holdovers from the Snyder era. It appears that he's finally got the players that can run the style of play that he wants.
For an in-depth look at what the Tigers should look like this season, check out my previous article giving a sneak peak at the team. For now, I'll take a quick look at the first two games of Missouri's season.
Game No. 1 VS Prarie View A&M
This game started in alarming fashion, with the Tigers falling behind 8-2 in the opening minutes. However, Missouri righted the ship quickly, and ended up coasting to an easy 86-65 victory.
In a true microcosm of what Missouri's season should look like, there was an interesting mix of seniors stepping up and putting up big numbers, combined with freshman that played aggressively and weren't afraid to pull the trigger.
Senior forwards DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons combined for 40 points, but frosh guards Marcus Denmon and Miguel Paul put up 26 of their own. At one point in the game, the freshmen scored 16 straight points for Mizzou. The jitters were obvious, with some stupid turnovers and frantic play, but overall the team looked good.
Game No. 2 VS Chattanooga
Missouri looked much better in their second game against Chattanooga, a team expected to contend for the conference title in the Southern conference. The older players definitely stepped up in this game, but in a 103-75 blowout, all the younger players got some valuable time.
Lyons and Carroll had 46 points combined for another dominating effort, and Matt Lawrence had his shooting stroke, scoring 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Although the typical freshmen stars, Denmon and Paul, struggled a bit, Kimmie English had his best showing yet, with nine points and two rebounds in only 12 minutes. As he gets more comfortable, he'll be even better.
It was nice to see Steve Moore and walk-on Jarret Sutton get their first points as Tigers. But Moore is clearly not ready for the college game. In two games against lesser opponents he only has three points and two rebounds, and has hit one of six free throws. Hopefully Mike Anderson and his staff can help shape his game.
Puerto Rico Preview:
Mizzou now heads off to Puerto Rico to play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, where they'll be among teams like Xavier, USC, and Memphis. It should provide a big gauge of where they stand among the nation's better teams.
Missouri faces off against a talented Xavier team on Thursday that has had obvious success in recent years. The team lost some talent last off season to graduation, but they have two capable scorers in wings BJ Raymond and CJ Anderson. But while they have capable size, Xavier doesn't have a lot of depth at the guard position.
Missouri should be able to let Carroll and Lyons, who have had success as long as they're not dwarfed in size, get loose down in the paint against the Musketeers. If Mizzou can hold their own on the glass and shoot well from the outside, they be able to win this game.