November 12, 2008
Powered Up: Time to talk hoops
The opening tip of Mike Anderson's third season at Missouri is just days away now. And it could not be a more critical season for Anderson and the Tiger program.
I'm not into ultimatums or putting a certain number of wins out there as an expectation. Too many things can happen, so much can change over the course of a basketball season. The Tigers could lose two players to injury and have a good season. They could win nine games in the Big 12 and not have a very good one (yes, I think the Big 12 might just be that bad).
So what's the goal? Simple. The goal is progress. And how do you define that? Well, I know it when I see it.
Yeah, I know that's pretty vague. But for most of last year, I saw bad basketball played by players that didn't really seem to want to be there in front of very few fans who mostly weren't there and didn't really seem to care much whether their team won or lost. Harsh? No doubt, but that's pretty much my in a nutshell description of the 2007-08 season.
So what I want to see, at its essence, is a team that is better in December than it is tonight, a team that is better in February than it was in December and a team that is better in March than it was in February.
The Class of 2008, ultimately, will define this program. At one point, I looked out on the floor Tuesday night against Missouri Southern. The backcourt had Miguel Paul at the point with Marcus Denmon at the two. The forwards were Kimmie English and Laurence Bowers. Steve Moore was in the middle. I turned to another reporter and said, "If we're seeing this lineup on the floor to start games in two years, Missouri might be close to back."
But two years is a long time to wait. Fans need something a little bit sooner. Missouri has a basketball fan base. You can't tell by looking at the stands. Heck, Anderson probably has his doubts. There haven't been many people here to watch his teams for three years. But trust me, I grew up watching this program. I saw it rise to No. 1 in the nation, get a No. 1 seed, go unbeaten in conference play, beat Kansas every year, take on heavyweights like Iowa and Indiana and Wake Forest and more. It can happen.
Anderson has bet his future on the fact that he finally has the players that can make it happen. We might not know the ultimate answer at the end of this year, but we ought to have a pretty good idea. It's time for progress to come to this bright shiny building called Mizzou Arena.
...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now for a FREE Trial